Saturday, 18 January 2014
Thank you Chancellor and thank you to Edith Cowan University. To receive an Honorary Doctorate is a great privilege and I am particularly honoured to receive it in the essential area of education.
Education is at the core of our society: It runs like a highway through our lives. It takes us from early years learning, through primary and secondary school, to tertiary education and life-long learning of skills and knowledge.
For every person, education provides the skills for better employment, improved health, life opportunities and wellbeing.
For our society, an educated workforce will be economically productive, there will be less call on welfare, health and justice systems and improved social cohesion.
So it is in the whole of society’s best interest, and it is our responsibility, to ensure that everyone receives a quality education.
This is something that you must all know and believe in – which is why you are involved in education and here today at this education graduation ceremony.
And this is why the Fogarty Foundation focuses on education: Because we believe that education is the best avenue for providing opportunity for individuals and our community.
We support programs across the broad spectrum of our community from early years learning, working with organisations like Surf Life Saving WA and The Smith Family, providing leadership programs, supporting schools in low socio-economic communities through the Swan Extended School Hub and the Fogarty EDvance program.
We support and establish programs that bring new innovations into education such as Spark_Labs which is developing creativity and innovation in learning and CoderDojos which promote digital literacy - an essential skill as we move into the future.
We also work with universities in education research and provide scholarships, prizes and support for teachers and pre-service teachers.
Edith Cowan University is the largest teaching university in WA and one of the largest in Australia. So we know that what happens here at ECU impacts education in Western Australia. And one of the fundamental aspects of this university is the way it works withthe community – thereby knowing what is needed and providing expertise as well as tertiary education.
I saw the very real impact of what can be achieved when universities, schools and the community work together to transform education when I was in the United States a few years ago and visited a school in Camden, New Jersey. Camden is a very poor city, probably best known for its urban decay and racial unrest.
Camden is also one of the most violent cities in the America. I had caught a train from New York to Pennsylvania and then took a taxi to Camden. When I told the taxi driver where I wanted to go he said “You really want to go there?” So I approached my visit with some trepidation - but I was so impressed with what I saw there.
About twenty years ago a group of community leaders got together to see how they could turn the city around. Led by Dr Gloria Bonilla-Santiago from the Rutgers University in Camden, they decided that if the city was to have any chance they needed to educate their young people – and that the whole city had to be involved. So they formed the Camden LEAP Academy.
It takes children from birth through to high school graduation. It is open six days a week and for most of the year. It has over sixty different organisations working with the school including the city’s hospital, so that every member of the families attending the school, get free medical help – which is almost unheard of in the States. They have five different academies, one of which is to help build the capacity of the parents, because we know, the good parental support is vital to children’s education. Now after twenty years, they have 100 per cent high school graduation and 100 per cent college acceptance – which also is basically unheard of. And this is because the education institutions joined together with the community, to raise the children.
I left feeling so inspired knowing that they had been able to build something special and something that we could learn from.
The Fogarty Foundation sees our challenge is to encourage and support the best possible education in Western Australia, which is why since 2003, we have partnered with ECU in the Fogarty Learning Centre.
The aim of the Learning Centre is to improve learning and life outcomes for children through a number of avenues:
· It is essential that we recognise the important role that education and teachers have in our community.
· We provide scholarships and prizes for teachers to do postgraduate studies in learning difficulties and help build a network of teachers who are leaders in this field.
· We support literacy and numeracy clinics both at the Learning Centre at Joondalup and where pre-service teachers provide one-on-one literacy coaching at schools, often those where the children may not usually get one-on-one help.
· We support education research at the Centre which recently has included looking at governance in the new independent schools, behavior management and teaching effectiveness in early years learning and the way video analysis can contribute to teacher professional learning.
· The video analysis research was conducted at The ECU Fogarty Professional Learning Centreat Roseworth Primary School. This Centre is an outcome of the strong relationship between the Foundation and this university. It was established at Roseworth when the new school was built in 2010. Using state-of-the-art technology, this Learning Centre enables professional development for Roseworth teaching staff, pre-service teachers, research and teaching development in areas of early intervention, literacy, numeracy and student engagement which will inform ongoing teaching practises at this University.
· And in this last year, ECU have begun a three year evaluation of the Fogarty EDvance program which provides a three year school improvement program for schools in low socio-economic communities. EDvance guides the school to determine what it wants to change and helps with the how by providing mentoring, coaching, sharing best practice thinking and leadership tools and facilitating networking and ideas sharing.
We chose ECU to do the evaluation because of their expertise in this area, we value their support and advice on how we can continue to improve the program and because of this university’s ability to take these learnings in school leadership, networks, mentoring and equity, to inform education development throughout our state.
In this coming year we will be working with ECU to further develop the Fogarty Learning Centre with a focus on enriching the teaching experience, bringing in the knowledge of leading schools and practitioners and looking at the changes happening in education and how we can make the most of these new opportunities.
Education is dynamic: Although always changing, the rapid developments in technology in recent years, have catalysed the need for a new look at education, how it is delivered and ensuring that it is relevant to 21st Century learning.
In speaking with people in the education and community sectors in Australia and internationally, we are realising that as well as needing to improve education we also need to transform it.
Education will engage with students who are taking in information through new media and who will need to be life-long learners to make the most of emerging opportunities.
This will mean looking at:
· What education technology is already here.
· How to decide what is relevant and how to use it to its best advantage.
· What else can be provided.There should be opportunities for teachers who see a need, be given the opportunity discuss their ideas and
Looking into the future, learning has the ability to be more individualised, it will probably be more enquiry based with more real world experience and knowledge that links the students’ work to the bigger picture.
We want our children to have enquiring minds, be passionate learners, articulate and resilient. We want them to be able to innovate and come up with ideas for their rapidly changing world.
You as teachers and educators will need also need to be life-long learners and able to make the most of the benefits that educational technology and new innovations can bring.
Looking at education and the future, I don’t think that I can summarise it better than to quote Christa McAuliffe, the high school teacher who was invited on the team of the ill-fated Challenger 13 space shuttle. When asked how it felt to be part of the space shuttle mission and to be ‘touching the future’, Christa replied, “I’m a teacher, I touch the future every day.”
You as graduating teachers and educators, hold the future in your hands by being able to give our children the education they deserve.
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