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VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING (VET) COORDINATORS NETWORK MEETING CATHOLIC EDUCATION OFFICE OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA Perth, Wednesday 21 March 2012. Follow the Dream: Partnerships for Success Presentation. Addressing issues of engagement during schooling. Educationally Engaged

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Perth, Wednesday 21 March 2012.

Follow the Dream: Partnerships for Success Presentation


Addressing issues of engagement during schooling

Educationally Engaged

The research tells us that much student \'activity\', regardless of movement, intensity as children do tasks, and colourful classrooms results in little serious, systematic and sustained learning of knowledge and complex reasoning processes of the kinds required in today\'s world (Ministerial Advisory Committee For Educational Renewal, 2004). For a variety of reasons, being at school does not necessarily mean engaging in learning.


Conditions that inhibit Learning

  • Tired
  • Distressed
  • Illiterate
  • Resistant
  • Long absences
  • Low teacher expectation
  • Teachers lack training to understand what is required to create a learning environment

Munns, McFadden and Koletti (2002) consider that engagement implies a longer term commitment to school and education in which the student develops "an emotional attachment and commitment to education". Rather than being an outsider in the learning process, the student identifies with the school and becomes an insider in the culture of the classroom (Durrant & Green, 2000, cited in Munns, McFadden & Koletti, 2002).


Successful Students

  • Common goal of seeking a better life

Family Characteristics

Munns and Parente (2003) found that the characteristics of family life for

students who finished their secondary schooling were typically as


  • parents were working but living in low socio-economic conditions;
  • parents provided encouragement for the students\' studies;
  • parents valued education and wanted the students to complete their schooling.

Munns & Parente examined the students\' attitudes and relationships and

found that students:

  • found they received more respect from teachers in the senior years;
  • continued to experience racism in playgrounds and classrooms, from both peers and teachers. However, they chose not to respond to it and so avoided trouble;
  • felt pressure because so many of their Indigenous peers had left school;
  • were determined to achieve their educational goals.

Present Situation

  • The Covenant, RAP’s and the general industry commitment to employment opportunities for Aboriginal Youth is unprecedented.
  • The supply of young people capable of taking up these opportunities nowhere near matches demand
  • For reasons of educational entry requirements or the geographic location of the opportunities
  • The aspirant population faces great barriers to success based upon their Aboriginality and / or socio-economic situation.

Yet they are the most likely to succeed, they are motivated, family supported and capable.

  • The barriers to success lie in the school system, in their accumulated lack of educational success and in their out of school environment.

Follow the Dream / Partnership for Success

  • Our program provides significant and evidence based out of school support
  • Builds a bridge to the school which engages the school and commits the school to their success
  • The result is partnerships for success that succeed.
aims of the ftd pfs strategy
Aims of the FTD/PFS strategy
  • Secondary graduation of an increased number of Aboriginal students achieving a TER (Tertiary Entrance Rank) score resulting in university entrance or WACE (Western Australian Certificate of Education) allowing TAFE entrance;
  • Improved retention rates;
  • Improved literacy and numeracy levels;
  • Increased employment opportunities;
  • Functional and reciprocal partnerships established to enhance education outcomes;
  • High level achievement in education becomes the norm rather than exception in the Aboriginal community;
  • Community pride in excellence;
  • Engagement of Aboriginal people in education through employment and support

Overall Program Characteristics

  • Good conceptualisation
  • Good, stable leadership
  • Program champions
strategies for achieving program goals
Strategies for achieving program goals
  • Clear criteria for participation:
    • entering program
    • remaining in program
strategies for achieving program goals 2
Strategies for achieving program goals (2)
  • Structured program:
    • timetabled learning centre program
    • individual education plans
    • career development
    • good administrative procedures
  • Good relationships with stakeholders
the benefit of industry sponsors
The benefit of industry sponsors

Provision of money and resources for the following:

a study centre

trips and camps

transport of students

equipment and materials

entertainment expenses

food and drink for learning centres

the benefit of industry sponsors1
The benefit of industry sponsors
  • Provision of money and resources for:
  • part salary of the coordinator
  • employment of additional clerical support
  • additional tutoring

Incentives for Students

Expectations of jobs on graduation

Scholarships, apprenticeships and traineeships


Students in Sponsored Sites

  • Greater resources mean more, and more varied, activities: travel, camps, computers, etc.
  • Job prospects motivate students.
  • Graduates who go on to university, apprenticeships, etc. return as models for student aspirations.

Benefits to companies

  • Participation in PFS contributed to fulfilling Native Title agreements
  • Training a local workforce and so avoiding need for fly-in, fly-out workers
  • Acknowledgment of broader social responsibility
benefits to companies
Benefits to companies

By supporting strong education at a local level and particularly a

strong Indigenous education and getting those graduates through,

it’s a sustainability issue for those communities and for the

businesses we operate in those communities. Local employment is

a huge commitment that we have... it’s not only about employment,

it’s about retention of employees, it’s about employees at the

higher level, so graduate positions and ... and management

positions and those kind of things, and part of it’s about kind of

obviously some kind of sustainability in the community.

coordinators perceptions of sponsorship
Coordinators’ perceptions of sponsorship

Coordinators liked having an industry sponsor:

  • The sponsor facilitated a range of activities associated with the program.
  • Staff from industry sponsors demonstrated a ‘can-do’ attitude to problems and sorted them out quickly: no problem is too difficult.
  • The availability of a range of resources not normally available to schools was beneficial to the program.
coordinators perceptions of sponsorship1
Coordinators’ perceptions of sponsorship

There\'s never been a problem between [the company] and Polly

Farmer and the Department that I can think of. I can\'t think of one

instance where we\'ve had any tension and they work collaboratively,

cooperatively. X will ring up and say look, I need this, can you do it?

Yes, okay I\'ll organise people for the ... enough students during the

holidays. I\'ll organise that and whatever else is you know ... and I

really appreciate their can do attitude. They\'re ... they\'re very

professional, very switched on as you see by Y. They\'re all ... they all

seem to be like that.


Conditions of Sponsorship

Sponsorship is not unconditional:

Sponsorship is for support that is not normally provided by the school.

The sponsorship must be effective: sponsors may request evaluations of their contributions.

Sponsorship is not a binding contract: the sponsors are at liberty to redirect their support.

Consequently, the FTD/PFS program has to be seen to be effective.


Thirteen years is a long time to be in a relationship. For Rio Tinto this number is especially weighty as it represents our longest standing community partnership. Rio Tinto’s Hamersley Iron business became the first supporter of The Polly Farmer Foundation in 1997; helping to establish the groundbreaking Gumala Mirnuwarni Aboriginal education centre for aspirational students in Karratha and Roebourne.

Since those early days the partnership has grown, resulting in the establishment of similar projects around the State, including in Roebourne, Tom Price, Carnarvon, and Kununurra. To date 122 students have graduated from these locations, with 43 gaining entry to university; 56 starting apprenticeships and traineeships and 2 going directly to employment.

These results are nothing short of incredible. Graduates have demonstrated what can be achieved with a bit of help and a lot of hard work; ensuring younger generations have positive local role models. Now replicated throughout the country, the Polly Farmer Foundation model is celebrated as best practice. Its link to local industries like ours is a feature that has set it aside from many others.

For Rio Tinto, the relationship with The Polly Farmer Foundation has come to represent everything we look for when entering into a partnership. It has a logical link with our business; it delivers long-term sustainable benefits for the community, and is categorised by mutual respect and shared goals.

I would like to congratulate The Polly Farmer Foundation for their achievements and acknowledge the hundreds of students and graduates whose hard work and determination has been fundamental to the organisation’s success.

Sam Walsh

Chief executive, Iron Ore and Australia, Rio Tinto

walarba bugarri broome follow the dream partnership for success
WalarbaBugarri Broome Follow the Dream: Partnership for Success

Key Facts

  • First cross-sectoral project since the program began at Karratha/Roebourne in 1997.
  • Partnerships between:
    • Catholic Education Office of WA
    • The Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation
    • Western Australian Department of Education
    • Woodside Energy Limited
  • Commenced in 2011.
  • By the end of 2011 75 students from years 8 – 12 from Broome SHS and St. Mary’s College.
walarba bugarri

Governance and Project Management

  • Steering Committee comprised of representation from all the project partners and the local Aboriginal community.
  • Steering Committee meets quarterly to review budget, program initiatives and outcomes.
  • Project delivered by two Program Coordinators based at Broome SHS and St Mary’s College.
  • GPFF provides strategic project management, financial administration, reporting and program advocacy.
walarba bugarri1

Key activities and outcomes in 2011

  • Core business of establishing after school learning support in place e.g. tutoring, IEP’S, students, parents, Steering Committee members, project partners and supporters.
  • Local Aboriginal community engagement e.g. Steering Committee membership, local Aboriginal program name, logo.
  • Stakeholder Engagement/Communications plan adopted.
  • Strategic plan adopted.
  • Visit to Perth, 4 – 9 December 2011 including visits to tertiary institutions and Woodside Energy Limited.
  • 100% Year 12 Graduation success (13 Broome SHS, 7 St. Mary’s College.)
walarba bugarri2

2012 Goals

  • Consolidate student participation, parents support and destination outcomes.
  • Extend community links.
  • Expand education and employment pathways.
  • A second cross-sectoral project?
  • Other?


Follow the Dream / Partnership for Success is an effective program with great potential to make a difference to educational outcomes of Aboriginal students.

There are a range of factors that contribute to an effective program, including good leadership, a structured program with an appropriate mix of program elements, motivated Program Coordinators, carefully selected students, high but realistic standards and partnerships with stakeholder groups.