Education Foundation Australia: making a difference since 1989
Education Foundation Australia is unique in its focus on philanthropic support for public education. It is the only independent, non-profit organisation in Australia that strengthens public education by investing private monies (philanthropic and corporate) into primary and secondary schools. Our focus is educational excellence and equality of opportunity.
Every child, regardless of home circumstance, deserves the best possible education. Our vision is that every student is imbued with the confidence, creativity and imagination to seize every opportunity and to contribute productively to the nation’s future.
Since 1989, we have raised $9 million which has been invested in the support of public schools to make a difference to the education of students, especially those who are disadvantaged or at risk of dropping out of school.
Our current Areas of Activity
1. Transforming Learning in the Middle Years
The middle years 5 to 9 see a big drop off in student engagement in learning and school. If this is not addressed, students are at risk of leaving school early or switching off from learning. Conventional approaches to schooling – traditional classrooms, hierarchical teacher-student relationships and a rigid curriculum broken up into separate subjects – do not work for young people in the middle years. They need rich task learning in the real world that lets them explore their own interests and values. They need to be trusted and independent.
2. Creating Community Solutions
Communities with high social capital are strong communities, able to overcome disadvantage and create opportunities for their members. Yet Australia is becoming a more isolated and less interrelated society, with weaker levels of community trust and reciprocity. Highly effective schools work closely with the local community in ways that have multiple benefits:
- In a society where some young people lack trusting connections with adults, schools are bringing people together from across the community to support its youth. Community role models and volunteers can provide academic assistance, social and emotional support and positive role models for learning and life
- Engaging the community in the school through corporate partnerships and other programs brings new resources to support school innovation and capability and reduces the isolation from which schools suffer
- At the same time, government schools can be key agents for social cohesion and powerful conduits to community capacity-building.
3. Seeding Student Opportunities
Socioeconomic background is the most important determinant of student achievement, more important even than what happens at school. Students from low socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to truant, have negative attitudes to school and leave school early. Australia has one of the widest achievement gaps between students from lower and higher socioeconomic backgrounds of all OECD countries.
The number of Australians living in poverty has grown by 30% over the past 3 decades. Improving young people’s educational prospects is the best way to reverse this trend, yet the cost of education and extra opportunities for children increasingly falls on families, creating a big problem for those already financially disadvantaged.
Innovative and responsive teaching can also make an enormous difference to student learning and life outcomes. Funding teacher innovation builds the capacity of schools to cater for all students, especially the most disadvantaged.
4. Driving new policy: bold research for real change
There are many historical and political reasons for the current structure and governance of school education in Australia. They explain, but do not justify, an education system that is producing growing regional disparities and entrenched disadvantage. The social and economic cost of continuing with this situation is too high. Debate about creative solutions to Australia’s education framework quickly gets bogged down in entrenched positions about public education versus choice, government versus non-government, public versus private and secular versus religious.