OUR AREAS OF FOCUS:
- LITERACY AND NUMERACY
- MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING
- STUDENT ENGAGEMENT
- FAMILY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
- EMBRACING FIRST NATION AUSTRALIANS’ CULTURE
- DEVELOPING TEACHING PRACTICE
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATHEMATICS
An estimated 75 per cent of jobs in the fastest-growing industries require workers with STEM skills, but the numbers of Australian students studying science and maths in high school are dropping. This is further exacerbated by an inequality in access to technology based learning for students in low SES and remote areas.
LITERACY AND NUMERACY
Literacy and numeracy are the fundamental building blocks of a child’s education and key to a thriving society. School-led projects to address this need include professional development for teachers, workshops for parents and evidence-based programs to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of students from Kindergarten through to high school.
MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING
It is estimated that poor mental health accounts for up to 25% of the education gap caused by disadvantage. Wellbeing and learning are inextricably linked. Schools are not just for academic learning – they are where students develop essential social, emotional and cognitive skills that will help them succeed later in life.
It’s a compounding cycle; children learn best when they are mentally healthy, and they develop a strong sense of wellbeing when they succeed in learning.
Disengaged students are more likely to drop out of school altogether and be involved in behavioural incidents. Encouraging students to enjoy and be inspired by school can take a variety of forms. Some of our work has included project-based learning, projects to improve understanding of culturally and linguistically diverse cultures and initiatives that enhance employability.
FAMILY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Families and communities are the first and continuing educators of their children, with some saying they are the greatest factor in helping children succeed at school. Through strengthening the relationship between school, families and community, values and attitudes towards education improve. This often results in families and communities who are more engaged in their child’s education and more likely to actively support student learning and wellbeing and mitigate potential barriers to learning.
EMBRACING FIRST NATION AUSTRALIANS’ CULTURE
Being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background is a large contributor to educational disadvantage. To ensure that First Nations Australian students have the best chance to succeed, schools must embrace and celebrate their students’ cultures. Projects that successfully champion student culture often lead to increased engagement from students, their families and community.
DEVELOPING TEACHING PRACTICE
The single biggest factor that helps children succeed in the classroom, is a great teacher. Teachers want to improve their effectiveness in the classroom through professional development in areas such as explicit teaching instruction, mental health and wellbeing, data analysis, differentiated learning approaches and using digital technologies.
OUR UNIQUE APPROACH:
Schools Plus has regular grant application rounds, which enables eligible schools* to apply for funding for their projects.
We fund a wide variety of projects, with the key criteria being that the project will result in significant and sustainable change that will help students succeed.
The projects should align with the school’s strategic plan. We support initiatives that may already have been proven successful or new initiatives that have a sound research base.
Funding is available via our Smart Giving program or via our Fair Education program, which is only available in select states and focuses on projects that drive family and community engagement.
Development of leadership skills for school leaders through coaching is a central component of the Fair Education program and is often cited as being influential in the success of the program.
Schools Plus also offers coaching to schools participating in Smart Giving projects. Improving the capacity of school leaders plays a significant role in enabling them to better support their students to succeed.
Schools Plus’ coaching is delivered by a team of expert education professionals.
At Schools Plus, we believe effective measurement and evaluation of outcomes is critical. We help build the capacity of schools to evaluate their own projects, enabling them to track the impact of their work and make ongoing improvements. We often share these insights with other schools so they can learn from the work and also with donors, enabling them to see the difference their funding is having on students facing disadvantage.
As well as an internal evaluation approach, CIRES has been engaged to independently evaluate our Fair Education programs.
One of the most effective ways we can help close the education gap is by sharing the knowledge that we are compiling in terms of initiatives and strategies that schools are employing to help their students succeed.
We have built a community of practice amongst our Fair Education schools, our Teaching Fellows and other groups of schools, which is where we actively encourage schools to collaborate with each other via webinars, forums and other interaction.
Another benefit of our knowledge sharing program is that we are able to share our insights far and wide, amongst all schools, education departments and any other interested parties, including internationally. This means that we are able to expand our impact on the education system, influencing practice across Australia.
OUR PROGRAMS EXPLAINED:
Applications for our national Smart Giving program open annually. Grants of up to $30,000 are available for individual schools, and up to $60,000 for a cluster of schools. Projects run from 12 – 18 months and support making significant and sustainable changes to learning, which help students succeed.
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Fair Education runs across NSW, Queensland and Victoria. Grants of up to $70,000 for individual schools and $250,000 for clusters of schools are available. All projects support a commitment to improve family and community engagement in students’ learning. Projects are supported with professional coaching over a 3 year period.
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All eligible schools can use our fundraising platform to raise money online for their school projects. All donations made to schools via our platform receive the benefit of tax-deductible giving through Schools Plus’ deductible gift receipt (DGR1) status.
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Each year, we Award 12 deserving educators with a unique Fellowship program designed to celebrate teachers making a real difference in their schools, and build a national community of education change-makers who will inspire and influence practice in classrooms across the country.
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