Fair Education NSW - program evaluation

Fair Education aims to build the capacity of school leaders in low socio-economic areas to design and implement activities that strengthen family and community engagement in education. To date, Fair Education has supported 110 schools across NSW.

The Centre for International Research on Education Systems (CIRES) at Victoria University has now concluded its four year evaluation of this program for the first two cohorts of schools in NSW.

Five years ago, a VFFF Education Working Group set out to identify a potential role for VFFF play to make a catalytic contribution towards educational equity in NSW. In 2016 the Fair Education Program commenced with Australian Schools Plus engaged as the delivery partner in this multi-year schools funding and coaching program.

For VFFF, building in an independent evaluation from the start of Fair Education represented sound practice in program evaluation, it was an important ‘insurance’ for this large investment, it served to test the original thinking behind Fair Education and was undertaken in the spirit of learning about this new way of working for us.

Our investment of funding and time in this program evaluation has been significant and worthwhile. It has provided invaluable learnings for us and for Australian Schools Plus and continues to inform this work as it expands in NSW and, with the support of other Foundations, to Queensland and Victoria.

VFFF is especially encouraged by the role that Fair Education is playing in supporting school leaders to realise their own ideas for their schools.

The design of Fair Education empowered school leaders to drive the improvements on their own terms. Fair Education did not impose a model of reform or expect a standardised set of outcomes. The independence provided schools with the chance to try something new and think differently. (CIRES, p.2)

VFFF is pleased to make the evaluation report publicly available to showcase this example of philanthropy in education, to highlight the work being undertaken in schools and to encourage the continued application of the many learnings.

We are grateful for the efforts of Professor Stephen Lamb and the CIRES team in delivering this program evaluation and for the inclusion of six case studies that bring this work to life. We also appreciate the continued leadership of Australian Schools Plus in the expansion of Fair Education to more than 150 schools nationally.

Recruitment of the fourth cohort of NSW schools will commence in July 2020.

The impact of COVID-19 provides a real opportunity to accelerate the new relationships that have formed between families and schools and to strengthen the participation of parents in their child’s education. We would be delighted to discuss the opportunity for other funders to join VFFF in supporting this next cohort of Fair Education schools in NSW.

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