Schools around Australia are partnering with community groups and businesses to improve outcomes for students.
The NAB Schools First Awards are a national awards initiative developed by ACER, the Foundation for Young Australians and the National Australia Bank (NAB). The awards recognise and reward outstanding school–community partnerships across Australia.
By the end of 2013, the fifth year of the awards, more than $18 million will have been awarded to 530 school–community partnerships around Australia. Over 25 per cent of Australian schools submitted an application for a NAB Schools First Award between 2009 and 2011.
In 2013, Seed Funding Award winning schools will receive $15 000 to grow their partnerships and Impact Award winning schools, already able to show outcomes as a result of their school–community partnership, will be awarded $30 000 to further develop their partnership. Additional funding is awarded to eight Impact theme winners and one overall national winner. The process of applying for an award has provided schools with the means to think about the strengths of their partnerships and ways of developing them further.
According to two recent reports by ACER Senior Project Director Sharon Clerke, the awards have benefited winning schools by enriching the educational programs being developed by their partnership, and increasing the sustainability of the school–community partnership.
Snapshot of school–community partnerships in Australian schools is an analysis of more than 600 Impact Award applications submitted between 2010 and 2011, so other schools and communities across Australia can benefit from examples of successful school–community partnerships.
Partnering for Success reveals the impact the awards are continuing to have on winning schools from 2009 to 2011, and examines the impact the application process has had on schools that applied for an award in 2012. This report also contains case studies of award winning schools.
For 97 per cent of survey respondents, winning an award allowed them to meet their partnership objectives, such as improving educational outcomes or increasing students’ connection to the community.
According to the winning schools responding to the survey, winning an award has been responsible for boosting students’ self-esteem and confidence, led to a higher profile in the community for both the school and the community or business partner, increased students’ pride in their school and increased opportunities for the school to develop more partnerships in the community.
Schools reported that winning an award contributed to building and sustaining partnerships through:
- increased community engagement (90 per cent);
- increased partner involvement (85 per cent); and
- the opportunity to have their partnership’s success published nationally (75 per cent).
Schools used the award money in four main ways:
- to purchase specialist equipment and resources, such as a bus, trailer or electronic equipment;
- for building infrastructure;
- to employ extra staff, particularly in relation to coordination and curriculum delivery; and
- to provide increased professional training for teachers.
ACER’s findings show that the NAB Schools First Awards continue to have a significant impact on school–community partnerships throughout Australia.
Applications for 2013 close on Friday 28 June. ■
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