Tuesday 24 March 2020
Hansard of the Legislative Council

Miss B's Student Services


[11.16 a.m.]
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, most school students cope well with school environments and benefit fully from standard curriculums.  But some, for various reasons, fall behind in their learning and need extra tuition.  Some want to study subjects that are not available in their schools.  How can these extra needs be met? 

In my electorate of Rosevears an extremely highly qualified educator, Catherine Byers, had the idea to set up a student services institution in 2013 - 'Miss B's Student Services', she calls it.  The service has grown exponentially since then and has helped hundreds of students feel confident and engaged with their learning.  Catherine was rewarded for her business efforts last year, when Miss B's Student Services became a finalist in the social change maker category of the Telstra Business Awards. 

I mentioned that Catherine Byers is highly qualified.  Among other qualifications, she has a Bachelor of Education from the University of Tasmania, a postgraduate certificate in education, a Masters of Education from the University of Southern Queensland, a Graduate Certificate in Education Studies from Murdoch University, and a certificate III in children's services.  In addition to the above education and childcare qualifications, she also has an Associate Diploma of Music Australia.

Her career experiences in teaching have taken her to national and international schools, including one in Sweden during 2008.  In 2010 and 2011 she was employed by the Department of Education and Training in Western Australia, working in a remote Aboriginal school as head of music and the arts.  I might point out, too, Mr President, that recently she held a music gathering at the Windsor Precinct in my electorate with community musicians as well, and raised well over $2000 for the firies who had the recent experience of helping out with the fires on the mainland.

Her student services offers one-on-one tuition for students who are behind in reading, writing, spelling, grammar or numeracy.  It offers help with homework.  Where was she when I was at Hobart High School, for goodness sake?  Essay writing is also covered by her and assignment help up to university level.  As well as helping students who have fallen behind, it has assistance and support programs for students who are ahead of their peer average.  It caters for 180 students and employs eight casual staff members.

Some will ask:  Why can't the Education system take care of these needs?  Why is it that a private system is necessary?  Well, Cathy responds -

Classes of 30 children means a wide variety of backgrounds, abilities, languages, cultural and social demographics etc not to mention learning styles, rates of knowledge acquisition and prior knowledge. Teachers usually cover between 4-5 subjects a day - which means getting around each of the 30 students at least once in those 4-5 subjects making essentially 120-150 students to teach, assess, catch up etc. It just isn't possible. If a student misses a few days due to sickness and is slow understanding a concept the teacher can't hold the learning journey of the other 29 students to allow the student to catch up. Miss B's Student Services can help catch the student up. So you might be asking:  what about coronavirus?  Well, with increased hygiene and cleaning methods, students can still choose face-to-face tutoring at Miss B's.  However, there is an online learning platform where students can still interact with their tutors via an e-learning program.  As this pandemic continues, online learning may become the norm and carefully managed one-on-one tutoring maybe safer than the normal school environment, threatened as it is.  In these difficult times the conventional education system can learn lessons from Miss B's Student Services.