Educator stories

Hear from educators about their experiences in the program.

Mackenzie from Oak Flats Public School

Read about Mackenzie Allen, a third-year student and pre-service teacher (PST) undertaking a Bachelor of Primary Education at University of Wollongong, and her experiences in the Small Group Tuition at Oak Flats Public School.

  • Name: Mackenzie Allen
  • Educator type: Pre-service teacher
  • School: Oak Flats Public School
  • University: Third year student, Bachelor Primary Education University of Wollongong
What is your role as an educator in Small Group Tuition?

I was employed at a local primary school (Oak Flats Public School), two days* a week to work as a tutor in Small Group Tuition. I worked with five literacy and four numeracy groups of 4 early-stage students in each group.

What did your role consist of?

My role consisted of working with these small groups for half an hour each day. I worked closely with the early stage one team to develop resources and learning activities to support the development of these students. literacy and numeracy confidence and ability.

I was responsible for taking attendance for each group, having a lesson plan developed prior to each day, a summary of the lesson of the learning each group completed during their session, developing literacy and numeracy goals for each student based off the literacy and numeracy progressions and recording in Plan2 once a goal was achieved.

I was also responsible for attending fortnightly meetings with the Small Group Tuition teachers to discuss the progress of the students in my group and make adjustments where needed. I was also a part of a shared Google Drive which has become a valuable future resource.

What has this experience given you?

This experience has cemented my future career aspirations in the teaching profession.

What would you say are the benefits of being an educator in Small Group Tuition?

The most significant benefit of being a pre-service teacher involved in the program was the opportunity to build relationships with students, including their likes, dislikes, strengths, and areas for development, which I feel was a key component in forming positive rapport and achieving high engagement and positivity during each session. Other benefits include collaborating and creating relationships with a team of experienced teachers, including the early stage one team. The Small Group Tuition educators and learning support teachers as an intervention team within the school.

The opportunity to be involved in assessing students using Department of Education assessments and utilising PLAN2 as apartment as a platform of recording observations and learning the significance of learning and support, especially the Small Group Tuition program in a school setting.

I also experienced countless benefits that applied to the progression of my degree being a part of Small Group Tuition gave me the confidence to engage successfully and enjoy my first practical experience.

I was able to communicate effectively with the students at my practice school and collaborate and share experiences and insights with my supervising teacher who was impressed with the work I was doing as a part of Small Group Tuition.

I've been able to transfer my practical experiences into my tutorial and lecture content and make connections between theory and practice.

Overall being involved as a pre-service teacher in Small Group Tuition has done wonders for my confidence, my practical experience progression towards the APST (Australian Professional Standards for Teachers) graduate standards.

What would you say are some of the highlights you have experienced as an educator in the Small Group Tuition program?

I have made many memories and experienced highlights from my participation in Small Group Tuition that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

The highlights for the joy I felt watching each student grow and develop throughout the year and having the opportunity to prepare resources, plan lessons and learn about

PLAN2 and literacy and numeracy progressions and see firsthand the positive impact that I had on students and share this knowledge on my prac and in tutorials and lectures.

A few very specific highlights are those towards the end of term one when one of the boys showed his classroom teacher that he could count all the way to 20 and when she asked how he learned this, he told her that Miss M taught him. There was also a student who presented a page of writing that we worked on for two consecutive lessons as her weekly news to the rest of her class. An extended highlight is that this year the students will still find me in the playground and ask what I am going to take them for groups again. These are memories that will stay with me throughout the completion of my degree and well into my career as a primary education teacher.

Would you recommend taking part to other pre-service teachers?

If you get the opportunity to be involved in the Small Group Tuition program, I would highly recommend you seize it with both hands. You won't regret it.

*Time commitments are negotiated with each school and may vary

Noah and Zoe from Vincentia High School

Read about Vincentia High School's approach to Small Group Tuition and how they created an integrated team of educators.

Find out how one high school employed pre-service teachers to deliver a successful small group tuition program

  • School: Vincentia High School (NSW South Coast)
  • Students: 1,050
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander: 16% students identify themselves
  • Small Group Tuition School Coordinator: Lisa Raftery
  • University of Wollongong student/pre-service teacher: Noah Egan
  • University of Wollongong student/pre-service teacher: Zoe Sillato

Vincentia High School decided early on to recruit a mix of professionals to undertake the Small Group Tuition. It then began recruiting from within the school and broader community. Recently retired teachers and suitably qualified people were considered and approached to join the team.

The next step was to look for pre-service teachers to join the team. Noah Egan and Zoe Sillato are both Pre-Service teachers who were known through the school community. Noah and Zoe met with Lisa at school to discuss the aims of the program and were immediately interested in being part of Small Group Tuition. Both Noah and Zoe joined in term 2 2022, Noah being in his first year of Bachelor of Education Degree (Mathematics) and Zoe into her second year of Bachelor of Education Degree (Mathematics). Noah and Zoe were really looking forward to interaction with students in the school environment so early in their academic studies.

Pre-service teachers in the small group tuition program are supervised by a NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority) accredited teacher. They have the same responsibilities as other educator-non teachers in the program, including lesson planning and preparation, tutoring students in small groups, analysing relevant data and recording progress.

Noah and Zoe hit the ground running and enthusiastically took on ‘everything thrown at them’ according to Vincentia High School’s ILSP School Coordinator, Lisa Raftery.

“The pre-service teachers work alongside one of our Educator (non-teacher) who is a teacher recently retired from VHS. That relationship has been wonderful, having them mentored by a teacher who has worked at the school for a long time,” she added.

Noah and Zoe, they have been provided with many different experiences and responsibilities they would not have as ‘prac’ students. At Vincentia HS they have been responsible for their own timetables, working three days per week around their university commitments. This suits both the school and the pre-service teachers who are also being renumerated for their time as small group tutors - another bonus which means that they can work and get paid in the profession they plan to join.

As Noah identified: “Being able to make connections with colleagues and have professional learning conversations with experienced teachers and given room for growth was another benefit of being involved in Small Group Tuition.”

The school benefits from having enthusiastic pre-service teachers, willing to learn, take on responsibility and appreciate the opportunities given to them to experience real life teaching so early on in their studies with the assistance of mentors.

“Lisa’s sensitive leadership and methodical guidance has been an essential component to build the confidence and skills of our Small Group Tuition team,” Vincentia High School’s Principal, Ruth Winfield said.

For the preservice teachers, not only do they gain an early insight into teaching, but they are also able to build rapport with teaching colleagues and students.

Why schools should consider having a pre-service teacher on their Small Group Tuition team
  • It helps build the professional capacity of a wide variety of staff within and across schools and helps develop future workforce.
  • It provides opportunity to create deeper connections with other schools and organisations (Universities, TAFE), and opens new doors, opportunities and working relationships in the future.
  • It may provide a strategic approach to manage funding – making the funding stretch further, more small group tuition opportunities ensure more students supported.
  • It gives greater access to a variety of staff/roles and provides opportunity to develop or further strengthen communities of professional practice
  • It recognises and acknowledges the strengths that varied roles bring to the ‘fabric of staffing’ in a school.
  • Positions are ‘fit for purpose’ – each role brings a distinct set of knowledge, skills, and expertise to meet the unique and often complex needs of students – ‘differentiation’.
  • Provides flexibility for a variety of implementation of models, during, before and after school, days etc.

Work for the department? Find out more about the program on the Small Group Tuition program guidelines webpage. For program enquiries contact us via email at


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