Project/Icons / advocateProject/Icons / appealsProject/Icons / blog postProject/Icons / documentsProject/Icons / educateProject/Icons / healthProject/Icons / media releaseIcons/moneyIcons/moneyx2Project/Icons / petitionIcons/Ionic/Social/social-pinterestProject/Icons / protectProject/Icons / quoteProject/Icons / supportProject/Icons / volunteerProject/Icons / water

Make a tax-deductible donation and help save lives now


NEW ANALYSIS: ‘Hands on’ education program sees child learning and wellbeing soar

96% of surveyed parents report their child developed new work and life skills through the Hands on Learning program.
02 April 2023

New analysis by Hands on Learning has revealed dramatic educational and emotional improvements for students engaged in the program, Save the Children announced today.

Five years of feedback (2018-2022) collected from 1,161 parents with children at 126 schools in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania has shown:

  • 96% of parents reported seeing their child develop new work and life skills;
  • 90% of parents reported wellbeing improvements for their child;
  • 87% of parents reported their child is happier at school and;
  • 77% of parents believe Hands on Learning is the key reason that their child has been engaged and motivated to go to school. 

Hands on Learning, run by 54 Reasons, Save the Children's Australian service delivery arm, builds wellbeing, engagement, and school attendance by creating opportunities for students to discover their talents and experience success through practical learning outside the traditional classroom setting. 

The program has delivered consistently excellent outcomes for participants, with 95% finishing school well and transitioning to work or study*. Hands on Learning was founded more than two decades ago and now operates in 130 schools across the eastern seaboard, with ambitions to expand nationally. To achieve this, Save the Children is calling for an investment in the Federal Budget of $14.6m over four years to engage children at risk of disengaging from school.

Hands on Learning's Head of School Education and Engagement, Cameron Wiseman, said the program is an evidence-based antidote to widespread school disengagement across Australia.

“Even before COVID-19, Australia’s high rate of school disengagement could fairly be described as a national crisis, given the lifelong adverse impacts of educational disengagement for individual students and society as a whole,” Mr Wiseman said.

For children already at risk of school disengagement, the pandemic has been especially detrimental to their learning outcomes.

“24 years of the Hands on Learning program has shown us that engaging these at-risk students in hands-on activities that are meaningful to them and their schools increases their sense of connection and belonging.
“This, in turn, develops their social and emotional skills, increasing their happiness now and readying them to navigate life after school.”

The recently published Productivity Commission’s report into the National School Reform Agreement highlighted the acute need to focus on wellbeing and engagement for students to thrive, now and in the future.

“As these statistics illustrate, the Hands on Learning program is well placed to mitigate school disengagement for at-risk kids. There is good cause to call for this evidence-based program to be federally funded so it can be available at schools across Australia for students who need it,” Mr Wiseman said.

“This is a national problem that requires a national approach and solution to avert the looming social and economic costs of Australia’s national education disengagement crisis.”


MEDIA CONTACT: Holly Robertson on 0414546656 or

Notes to editors:

  • *Statistics gained from a separate 2021 analysis of known pathway data from 219 student from 13 partners schools who participated in the program for at least six month (two terms) in 2018.

  • The feedback focused on the impact of children’s participation in the program across areas of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and positive pathways (aligned with the globally recognised Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) framework).

  • Save the Children is a leading global non-government organisation focused on children’s rights and has been active in Australia for over 100 years. 54 reasons delivers Save the Children’s services in Australia, working alongside children and their families and communities in accordance with the 54 articles in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  • Save the Children and 54 reasons last year provided a submission to the Productivity Commission’s review of the National School Reform Agreement, which can be accessed at the link here.

Stay up to date on how Save the Children is creating a world where every child has a safe and happy childhood