Australia spends 10% more than the OECD average on secondary school students, and we've seen sector wide gains since 2001. But outcomes keep falling. Classroom engagement is at its lowest point in decades. We need to act.
We can't wait for the government
Government is a third-party payer and a third-party problem solver. Their distance from the classroom has lead to a growing bill for worsening outcomes. Our solution starts from a simple, first party principle — we believe that funding innovation in education is more effective when delivered by those most invested in the outcome.
Since 2001, the government has increased sector wide funding for Australian schools. Funding for education is a hot button political issue, but the focus of the debate often misses the point. There has been little concern at the fact that the disempowerment of educators has led to a decrease in the overall core competencies of Australian students.
We can see the impact of an out-dated model of education when compared with our global peers. Outcomes have been steadily declining annually. The first PISA tests ranked us in 6th place for maths, 8th for science and 4th for reading. Now we're 19th for maths, 16th for science and 13th for reading. Overall, Australia now ranks behind Vietnam and Poland — countries that spend far less and achieve far more.
Successful schools need to be nimble, innovative, challenging, adventure-focused, research-informed, industry and community connected and geographically and philosophically autonomous. Our funding model should empower a vision that rests in the heart of every teacher and school leader.
Our solution is research-informed, and community driven, philanthropy that focuses on building a lighthouse community for others to emulate.
Without our leadership, Australia will not be able to compete in the modern world and our kids will be disadvantaged.
Our response has to be driven by educators who are in the front seat. They know how to reengage our kids, invent new models and empower a love of lifelong learning. By 2030, 41% of our children’s time at work will be spent engaging in critical thinking and judgement. If we don't rise to the occasion, today, Australia will continue to languish and our kids will be disadvantaged.
Why we need to fund a revolution of the state within
Plato asserted in The Republic that to bring about a change in our nation, we must start with addressing ‘the state within’, developing the character and virtue of the individual.
Since the turn of the century, student relationships have become more complex. Family structures and practices have fractured, counselling and discipline needs have skyrocketed, academic standards are being challenged from all quarters, and we are coping with the consequences of technology being omnipresent every moment of the day.
Over a quarter of a million young Australians aged between 4 and 17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015. That means children as young as four are experiencing: panic disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia, generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depressive episodes, dysthymia and bipolar affective disorder.
We need communities that not only acknowledge the challenges but actively work, for the good of the nation, to solve them. We need to start by funding a new dawn for programs and facilities that imbue our educators with the tools they need to turn the tide.
The imperative of getting it right when our children are young cannot be overstated. We know that three in four adult mental health conditions emerge by age 24 and half by age 14. The challenges and anxieties of youth should not become a debilitating condition for life; we need to engage our young people through the expert provision of care to turn the tide.
Disengagement keeps climbing annually. According to research by the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University, we’re now at the point where 45% of year 9 students dislike school. Those who dislike school and are disengaged from their learning are more likely to drop out.
The research is clear — 90% of men who leave school early and 82% of women never achieve another formal qualification or return to further training. Students, who leave school early, without a clearly defined pathway, never achieve another qualification and are locked out of prosperity.
The cost of youth disengagement can be measured, and the facts are astounding. Not caring for our youth today will cost us $412 million per year in lost taxes, healthcare, crime and welfare. Across the lifetime of a cohort, that totals more than $18.8 billion.
Our response must be driven by you, your family and our educators — we are the people who know our children best. Together, we can reengage our kids, invent new models and imbue a lifelong love of learning that will hold them in good stead for the challenges of tomorrow. By reinventing the way schools interface with universities and industry, we will ensure our children graduate strong in their character and ready to succeed in the world.
What you can do today
None of us would ignore a serious medical diagnosis, so let's not ignore an educational one. The research is clear that we need to help our teachers improve the way they teach and the facilities in which they work. Giving to the Foundation is a direct way you can impact Australia and leave a legacy for you and your family. For every dollar, you contribute to, you are freeing a dollar for the College to spend on developing leading programs to care for the challenges of a new world.
We wholeheartedly believe that, with your support, the College can truly affect a paradigmatic shift in the character education of young people — that is why we seek your support.