While 2020 has been a year of challenges for international education providers, the Anglican Schools Commission’s international arm has turned that challenge into opportunity.
ASCI Director International Programs, Amanda Fritz, said they had acted quickly in response to the effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic, with border closures across the globe preventing some students from returning to Australia to continue their studies.
“We wanted to make sure that our students who were still at home could continue with their Australian education without any disadvantage,” Mrs Fritz said.
“In consultation with our ASC Language School academic staff, we launched our remote learning program, REAL – Remote Education Anywhere Live – so that our students who are still offshore could join in all their usual classes with their Australian-based classmates.
“The Programme has expanded beyond our initial scope and is now attracting enrolments from offshore students new to the school who want to study in the ASC Language School before arriving to study in Australia.”
ASC Language School Academic Coordinator Kate Simeon said the REAL Programme meant that students anywhere at any time could access their curriculum and prepare to come into ASC schools.
“All the classes are recorded so kids can watch it back or attend live. We have two students based in Yemen who join our classes live at 4am their time,” she said.
Miss Simeon said teaching classes with onshore and offshore students had led teaching staff to become more creative, prepared and strategic about student engagement.
“When we do group work, we buddy a remote student with a classroom student so that they are interacting with each other every day,” Miss Simeon said.
She said students were generally in the Language School between one and three terms before moving into mainstream classes at ASC schools.
Mrs Fritz said the challenges posed by border restrictions and the success of the REAL Programme provided an opportunity for ASCI to focus on expanding their role as an English language teaching support hub.
“We have established enrichment programs for international students and local students for whom English is a second language, to provide ongoing support for both the students and ASC schools,” Mrs Fritz said.
“A lot of students who are ready for mainstream schooling still need support for English, particularly when they get to Year 11 and 12 with EALD (English as an Additional Language or Dialect) as a WACE subject.
“Now, even if the school doesn’t offer EALD as a WACE subject, they can access it remotely through our programme, or simply take extra English classes in place of an elective.
It’s an additional level of service and support for the schools and students and both have peace of mind that they’re not on their own.”
The ASC Language School teaches both Intensive English and Academic English which includes skills such as essay writing to prepare students for the OLNA (online literacy and numeracy assessment), EALD or WACE preparation.
“Students can log in to our intensive English classes from anywhere. While some are overseas, others are in Perth schools or even in regional schools like Esperance,” Mrs Fritz said.
For those students attending on-campus, they are now revelling in the modern new surrounds of ASCI’s brand-new International Student Centre in William Street in the city. The new centre is a hub for all international students coming into Australia through ASC International’s programs and is home to the ASC Language School and all ASCI staff.
Mrs Fritz said students loved the new centre because it was a dedicated site and gave students ownership over their own school.
There are two class levels – Pre-Intermediate and Intermediate – and both host a mix of on-campus and remote learners from countries around the world. Along with intensive English classes, students also study mainstream subjects including science, humanities, media, and physical education held at Elizabeth Quay.
Senior students from St George’s Anglican Grammar School are based in the same building and Mrs Fritz said it gave students the chance to interact with their Australian counterparts.
“We get a lot of St George’s international students come up for recess and lunch. They get to talk with our students about what life is like in mainstream classes and help prepare and motivate the Language School students for progression into their primary or secondary programs” she said.
“We’ve got a good diversity of cultures in our international students and they are forced to speak English as their only common language. It’s really the most effective way for them to improve their language proficiency. ”