In 2008 colman foundation approached the Brumby Government (Victoria) saying that it wished to become directly involved in the education of kids in an area of significant disadvantage – ideally, one with a large migrant and refugee population.
The wonderful result of discussions with Premier John Brumby and his team was the creation, on September 11 2009, of a unique social partnership, defined in a written Memorandum of Understanding with the State Government, which saw the construction of Doveton College.
Construction of the new school and children’s centre began in November 2010, with the first stage completed in January 2012 and the second stage in early 2013.
Why a A School and Why in This Way?
Bill Gates, after looking very closely at how some $5 billion had been spent by philanthropy in education, concluded:
a. as a proportion of all the money that governments spend on education, $5 billion amounts to barely a “rounding error”
b. and the philanthropic dollar didn’t appear to have moved the needle much
c. the optimum vehicle to be effective was probably one where philanthropy linked with a local school and local community.
By reason of the insight of Premier Brumby and aided by a lot of good fortune and hard work, that is the model we have at Doveton College.
A wonderful model for any philanthropy.
A social partnership, such as the one we have at Doveton College, massively leverages the philanthropic dollar, because very significant monies are also spent by the Government and because, under the social partnership arrangement, philanthropy and the local community get an important say in the direction and governance of the school.
Additionally, if this model proves able to deliver strong educational outcomes, then the philanthropic dollar can be leveraged further, by influencing how public education dollars are spent.
Why at Doveton? Because it is the 3rd most disadvantaged non-rural community in Australia and has a very high migrant and refugee population. A key aim is for this school to turn out the future leaders of the communities which these children represent.
What are we trying to do at Doveton?
1. Show that, with the right structure and relationships, and using an evidence-based, business-like approach, high quality educational outcomes can be delivered in very disadvantaged communities.
2. Build on the Prof John Hattie’s research (which establishes that 50% of educational outcomes arise not from the school and its teachers, but from the child, parents and community), and create a school which increasingly becomes the central hub of the local community – delivering a wide range of social and health outcomes.
Doveton College – is unlike any other in Australia. Its underlying philosophy is that you can’t make a significant impact on the education of kids in disadvantaged communities without taking a whole-of-community approach (much along the lines of the Harlem Children’s Zone and of “Toronto First”).
And so our school seeks to utilise all the local forces in the community and provide:
- learning and support for infants and children, mums and dads and community members with:
- high quality early learning for children from pre-natal to age 5
- maternal and child health programs
- visiting health specialists,
- early childhood intervention services,
- parent groups,
- adult education
- a place where parents are always welcome as a key part of the school day to day
- community facilities
- a community Fitness and Well Being Centre
- kitchen garden
DOVETON COLLEGE aims to be the heart of its community, a one stop shop, a safe place where our children can grow, be confident and receive the very best education.
There are some 6000 early childhood learning centres in Australia of which only 20 (and only 4 in Victoria) have been given an “excellent” rating. Doveton College achieved this in its first 30 months. So we’re making a difference.
“We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.” Ben Sweetland