The 2007, Professor Tony Vinson report: Dropping off the edge: The distribution of disadvantage in Australia found that limited education had a significant impact on making and sustaining disadvantage.
Benalla’s community foundation, the Tomorrow:Today Foundation, investigated the link between socio-economic disadvantage and poorer student educational outcomes and found that Benalla had higher than average rates of educational disengagement and early school leaving, as well as declining literacy and numeracy levels, all factors that were either a consequence of, or reinforced, Benalla’s high level of socioeconomic disadvantage.
Tomorrow:Today Foundation responded by developing the Benalla Education Program, a large-scale community initiative that works with Benalla and district families, Benalla’s primary and secondary schools, local government, community groups and local businesses to improve school retention to Year 12 and completion of a diploma, degree or apprenticeship.
The program has four objectives:
- All Benalla and District children start school ready to learn
- Literacy and numeracy levels are measurably improved
- Student assessed levels of wellbeing improve to moderate or high
- Family and community raise expectations for students to go on to tertiary education or training.
In 2012, the Education Benalla Program became a Ross Trust Collaboration. This reflects the Trust’s commitment to addressing inequity and inequality of education in rural Victoria, using an evidence-based, community-led approach. The program has three sub-programs: School readiness and early years; Student wellbeing, and Student transitions. Tomorrow:Today have developed a number of activities designed to meet its objectives.
The Education Benalla Program is being externally evaluated by the Youth Research Centre, Melbourne Graduate School of Education at University of Melbourne.
Visit the Tomorrow:Today Foundation website