The gift of equity in education – a Fogarty EDvance case study

Fri, 15 Mar 2024 Estimated reading times: 3 minutes

The Fogarty Foundation is a philanthropic entity that works on improving education to achieve the broader aim of creating prosperous societies. It is committed to increasing access to high-quality education for all young people in its geographic scope. This case study is provided by the Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) and looks at the long-term impact for students from improving school leadership capability through high-quality training.

The challenge

In 2012, the Fogarty Foundation founded EDvance to support schools across Western Australia with students who were struggling with their learning or at-risk of missing out on educational attainment. They looked at some of the challenges that make it difficult for students to achieve learning outcomes, including things like parent or guardian educational achievements, household income and community wealth, and historic and cultural factors that impact First Nations students.

The response

The Fogarty Foundation considered if the corporate sector technique of improving leadership quality to lift business outcomes could be effective to bring about change in schools. They created a program, Fogarty EDvance, to build leadership capability in schools over three years, drawing on knowledge, resources and tools from education, business, philanthropy and community groups. The program delivery was designed to be distinct for each year across its three-year duration:

  • Year 1 focuses on developing school leaders’ knowledge of tools for leading change, growing their understanding of the education evidence base, deciding a strategic direction, creating a school improvement plan and starting to trial changes.
  • Year 2 continues implementation of the school improvement plan, connects leaders with other schools for peer-learning and support, and evaluates and adapts the plan based on areas showing promise.
  • Year 3 sees whole schools embed and scale effective practice, sets a future direction and determines ways to sustain improvement.

Since its inception, 11 cohorts have now participated in the three-year program. This has amounted to more than 500 school leaders supporting 68,000+ students at 148 schools across Western Australia. Fogarty EDvance now works with delivery partner Knowledge Society to deliver the program. While cohort and participant numbers increased year on year, the program is able to be iterated and finessed to allow for continued use of proven methods while addressing different schools’ individual priorities.

School leader participants in Fogarty EDvance’s training program.

The result

The impact of this program has been significant. All schools have recorded improvements, including across important learning enablers like student attendance and behaviour. More than half of the schools also recorded major improvements in student academic outcomes.

In Cohort 6, for example, all schools saw improvements, with approximately 50% making a significant improvement to student academic outcomes. NAPLAN areas at or above expected performance increased from 48% to 65% between 2019 to 2021. Further impact data can be found on Fogarty EDvance’s website.


At times, seeking proven ideas for lifting quality from areas outside of the system you want to change can be a useful way to identify elements of promise, to then transfer and trial in new settings. Developing leadership in schools is consistently contributing to wide and sustained improvement.