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The reading gap in primary school between the lowest socio-economic students (SES) and the highest SES is equivalent to almost 3 yrs of schooling2

The literacy foundations built by children during their primary and early secondary years are crucial to their ability to do well at school. Research identifies a clear link between the development of cognitive skills such as literacy and numeracy at an early age and higher levels of education achievement, greater employability, higher earnings and greater social participation.3

what is student2student?


Our student2student program works by matching students who need to improve their reading with peer buddies who help and encourage them with their reading. Peer support is central to the program’s success. Evidence indicates that one of the best ways to support students who have reading difficulties is for the help to come from others near their own age.4

student2student involves three groups of participants:

  • Students in Years 3 to 8 assessed as being up to two years behind in their reading development and want additional support to improve their reading.

  • Reading buddies with good literacy skills who are at least two years older than the student. The buddies are trained by The Smith Family to help their students develop reading confidence and skills, using the ‘Pause, Prompt, Praise’ reading support method. 

  • Volunteer Supervisors who provide support for up to 10 reading buddies, helping them with problems and ensuring that they are supporting the students effectively.

Each student and buddy receives an identical book pack from The Smith Family. The reading buddy then telephones the student two to three times a week for at least 20 minutes, over an 18 week period. The student reads to the buddy, who uses the skills learnt in their training to assist the student with their reading and offer encouragement and praise. The buddy keeps a simple record of each phone call and reports progress to a Volunteer Supervisor fortnightly. Student2student operates nationally via landlines, mobile phones and digital.

We are thrilled to have AGL as our national funding partner for our student2student program until 2024. Thanks to AGL’s support, we can continue to grow the program, and most importantly, continue to improve the confidence and reading skills of many more disadvantaged young Australians.

Learn more about AGL.


how does student2student help?

For more than a decade student2student has been annually evaluated and has consistently realised reading improvements in participants. Reading improvement is assessed through the implementation of a pre and post program reading test and surveys with all participants (readers, buddies and Volunteer Supervisors), including feedback from parents. Since its inception, the program has proven the value of telephone peer tutoring.

In 2016, a detailed analysis of data for 728 student2student participants was carried out. Students, buddies and parents were also asked to complete surveys about their experience of the program.

  • 97% of students improved their reading
  • 90% of students report that they enjoy reading more now
  • 88% of students agreed they read more having completed the program
  • 89% students agreed the program helped them feel more confident with school work
  • 94% of parents reported children felt better about themselves
  • 95% of parents report their child’s reading has improved

Before introducing the program nationally, The Smith Family trialed and independently evaluated the student2student program for three years in New South Wales.

Girl reading over the phone

what our participants tell us

s2s student

"It was good reading to someone that I didn't know because they didn't judge me when I made mistakes." - student2student participant

"The best part about being involved with student2student [is] knowing that I was helping my buddy, not just in school but for the rest of her life." - student2student reading buddy

You can help disadvantaged Australian children get the most out of their education and create a better future for themselves. Join our community of volunteers and help us to provide the support these children need.

Related links


One of the best ways to support students who have reading difficulties is for the help to come from others near their own age.

Learning Clubs

A safe and supportive out-of-school learning environment where primary or secondary students can participate in activities that develop their academic and social skills.

Let's Read

Let's Read encourages parents and carers to read with their young children and helps them to develop their child's ability to name letters, play with word sounds, and love books.

Let's Count

Let’s Count helps early childhood educators improve their own mathematics education confidence, knowledge and skills so they can better support families about everyday numeracy concepts.
DEEWR (2012), Review of School Funding Final Report
Department of Education Science and Training (2005), Teaching Reading: National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra
Australian Council for Educational Research Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEEDCDYA) 2010 National Assessment Program: Literacy and Numeracy Report
Rohrbeck, al (2003) Peer-assisted learning interventions with elementary school students: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Education Psychology, 95(2), 240-257

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