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“Humbling and exciting”: Pioneer Rosie Williams on supporting education

Before Schools Plus, John and I were involved in supporting education at a post-graduate level. Nurturing the hard work and excellence of individuals and institutions at this higher level of education is necessary, important and enormously gratifying. But what about the other end of the education spectrum?  

What about our kids who are struggling just to make it through primary school and where even getting to high school will be an achievement? And what about those individuals and institutions at the start of a child’s formal educational journey?   

So that’s where Schools Plus entered the picture. Schools Plus and the Pioneer program has given us a way to reach out and help support kids and their schools in those early years of a child’s academic experience. 

Rosie Williams-min

From left: John Grill AO, Schools Plus Board member Lisa Porter and Rosie Williams.

One of the projects we support is in Katherine (NT). It’s grown from five schools to 27. The project is about collecting data on student achievement and ensuring the teachers know how to read it and use it. They’re using the data as part of a long-term monitoring process with a focus on helping children transition from primary to high school. 

It’s humbling and exciting at the same time. We are only scratching the surface but at least we’re making a start. Amongst other things, I see our Pioneers program as a way of circumventing the system; we can come together to support an innovative project and say, “let’s start now” and it does start then.  

The Teaching Awards are another program we are very proud of. I see the Awards as helping to change the perception of teaching from within so that teaching is restored in standing to the crucial, highly-respected and honourable profession we know it to be. We are all concerned about the future of our society and with this in mind, we need to support our teachers who (along with parents) are the ultimate shapers of the citizens of tomorrow’s world. These are serious matters and it is a privilege to be a part of the Pioneers and to contribute to programs like this.  

What would I say to others considering supporting schools in need? I’d say don’t be overwhelmed, just start. One person can make an enormous difference and Schools Plus and the Pioneer program facilitates our desire to effect profound changes in the education of our children.

Education is a journey that the children are on, the teachers are on, we are all on. John and I are delighted to be Pioneers and to share in this journey to shape education in Australia. 

Schools Plus Pioneer in Philanthropy

This reflection was written for the Schools Plus Annual Review 2017.

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