Class act

Posted on 18 Dec 2023

By Greg Thom, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Teach For Australia

A group of highly motivated teachers are dedicated to helping Australia’s most disadvantaged students achieve their full potential.

Teach For Australia’s mission is to address educational inequality.

It does so by focusing on leadership in education – recognising this as the key to improving struggling schools and to equipping young people with the skills they need to reach their full potential.

To achieve this goal, the not-for-profit organisation relies on donations to help turn highly motivated Australians into exceptional educators who are prepared to work in sometimes challenging low-socioeconomic communities across the nation.

The ability of these teachers to instil a lifelong love of learning in struggling students is particularly prized in rural and remote parts of the nation.

It was the chance to make a real difference in the lives of disadvantaged students, combined with the opportunity to be mentored by some of the best educators in the business, that convinced Will Sloss to join Teach for Australia’s (TFA's) flagship leadership development program.

Will Sloss Teach For Australia associate
Teach For Australia associate Will Sloss.

“I don’t think I would have had the same support and encouragement if I had entered teaching the traditional way,” said Mr Sloss.

“I have an amazing mentor – they are so caring and nurturing and I feel really lucky.”

Mr Sloss said while teaching isn’t the easiest job, it can be incredibly rewarding.

“If you’re thinking about changing your career to become a teacher, it’s never too late.

“I tried out a few different degrees and careers before I landed where I am. You can bring your newfound energy and passion paired with decades of prior experience to make a positive impact.”

Teach for Australia acting CEO Jane Phipps said it was important to connect exceptional teachers with disadvantaged students.

"We know that there is vast inequity in Australia's education system – the postcode in which you are born radically impacts your future,” said Ms Phipps.

“The communities we partner with face that reality head-on.

“They value the motivated, talented people we recruit to our leadership development program, who bring diverse career experiences and subject matter expertise to their classrooms.”

Ms Phipps said teachers were selected for their leadership ability, resilience, social justice motivation and ability to manage the workload of the program.

She said the rigorous selection process was justified by the high percentage of alumni – 88% – who remained in the education system after completing TFA's programs.

TFA leadership development program stats
"We know that there is vast inequity in Australia's education system – the postcode in which you are born radically impacts your future.”
Teach For Australia acting CEO Jane Phipps.

They include school teacher Harry Pickett, who Ms Phipps cites as just one example of how TFA trained educators make a positive impact on the lives of their students.

Mr Pickett partnered with his school community in Champion Bay, WA, to raise funds for musical instruments for his students – after first providing them with his own violins as an interim measure.

"Harry's efforts ensured his students could access the life-changing impacts of musical education,” said Ms Phipps.

“His approach is emblematic of the direct impact our associates can have on young people's lives."

Teach For Australia acting CEO Jane Phipps.
Teach For Australia acting CEO Jane Phipps.

TFA’s efforts were recently given a significant boost when the charity renewed its partnership with financial technology company IG Group, which donated more than $8.5 million to Teach for Australia's global partner Teach For All.

IG was also among the top contributors to TFA’s annual Giving Day, a 12-hour online fundraising event, which raised more than $131,000.

“We are so thankful for the generosity of the Teach For Australia network and we’re incredibly appreciative of IG Group's Giving Day contribution this year,” said Ms Phipps.

“The team’s donation will directly support our work in finding, training and supporting new, exceptional teachers that aim to inspire, spark curiosity, and install a love for learning in young people facing disadvantage across the country.”

IG Group Asia–Pacific and Africa CEO Kevin Algeo said the company was proud to play a part in helping TFA make a difference to the lives of young Australians.

“IG has contributed both financial and physical support to Teach for Australia to help expand the impact of this incredible initiative,” said Mr Algeo.

“Our partnership with Teach for Australia is a longstanding one and we are excited to continue to help get children the critical education and tools they need to close the gap in educational inequity.”

More news

Become a member of ICDA – it's free!