Visit the Fogarty EDvance website: http://fogartyedvance.org.au/
We are fortunate in Australia to have an excellent education system, however, there is currently a significant minority of children whose educational attainment is below national minimum benchmarks. These students predominantly attend schools located in low socio-economic communities.
Children in low socio-economic areas can face a range of challenges that can impact negatively on their education and, even with intervention, it can be extremely difficult for students to ever bridge this gap. This often leads them to disengage from education, resulting in high levels of absenteeism and non-completion of school. Research overwhelmingly shows that low levels of academic attainment can lead to poor employment opportunities, health issues and lower life expectancy, higher rates of incarceration and generally fewer life opportunities – and so the cycle continues.
However, we know that there are some highly effective schools located in these communities making a significant difference with their students. Factors associated with effective schools that lead to good educational outcomes are:
- The quality of leadership of the school
- The quality of teaching
- Parent and community support of learning and the school
As in business, the most valuable strategy to increase the effectiveness of a school is to improve the quality of its leadership. High quality school leadership enables high quality teaching, parent and community support for the school, and the fundamental aim: learning by the children.
So how can we help support our school Principals and their leadership teams working with children with high needs in challenging environments?
The Fogarty Foundation has initiated a new approach to this challenge. Working with educationalists, business consultants and universities, Fogarty EDvance – Advancing Educational Opportunities will be working to support and build the capacity of school leadership teams in low socioeconomic communities. Leadership research and business consultancy practice shows that mentorship and peer support networks are highly effective in developing positive change in organisations. Fogarty EDvance will be taking this best practice out to the schools and will include:
- Course work specific to Principals of schools in low socioeconomic communities that can be accredited to a Masters of Education (School Leadership)
- Each participating school Principal will have a Mentor who will work with them on areas of need including strategy and planning, financial and organisational management, data analysis and engaging with parents and the community
- Building and working with a network of other schools which will provide an ongoing peer support network for the leadership team
- Supporting the school to establish closer working relationships with other government and community agencies for a more integrated approach to the complex needs of these communities
The program will be evaluated and refined to inform best school and community practice and public policy on the wellbeing of our children and communities. Fogarty EDvance will also liaise and share information with other programs around Australia and globally.
We are being supported in this endeavour by the Western Australian Department of Education and the Catholic Education Office of Western Australia and are also receiving input from the business community. Fogarty EDvance is an exciting initiative as it will be bringing the best of business, community and schools together.
Megan Enders and Keith Newton have been engaged to work with the Foundation on Fogarty EDvance:
Megan Enders – Program Director – (B Arts (Hons), MBA) is a freelance management consultant who is assisting the Fogarty Foundation to implement the Fogarty EDvance initiative. Megan has an eclectic background and brings a unique blend of operational management and business advisory skills. Megan started her career as a senior policy adviser for transport, communications and later, environment policy in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet during the Keating Government. After this, she was an adviser to a Minister in the former Howard Government, Nick Michin. After gaining her MBA Megan worked as a consultant in human capital (people) management. This led to the roles of General Manager of the then 600-person shared services business unit of Western Power Corporation (prior to its separation) and also as General Manager of a similar commercial services delivery team of 200 people in Rio Tinto.
Keith Newton – Director of Learning Programs – (M Ed Man; B.A. Social Science) is a Senior Lecturer and Researcher at Edith Cowan University (ECU) where he coordinates and delivers a Master of Education (Leadership) program for ECU in China in partnership with Zhejiang Normal University. He is also engaged in research on educational leadership in Australia and overseas, including the Principals as Literacy Leaders action research project. Keith has had extensive school and system level experience having been a teacher, Principal, District Director and Deputy Director-General of Schools in the Department of Education and Training in Western Australia. Keith is a national director and state president of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) and member of the national ACEL Leadership Faculty. Keith also works as a consultant to the Department of Education Services in the area of non-government school registration and performance review for Independent Public Schools.