We have recently seen a shift in the way the Foundation operates focussing on a theme in girls’ education in which we can make some impact. Check out the latest stories making news.
The McPherson Family and Invergowrie Foundation PhD Scholarship for Women
University of Melbourne
A partnership to empower women in STEM in the Mallee Region.
New partnership to investigate improving STEM
As Australia’s performance in mathematics and science continues to decline and pressure to engage students increases, a new research partnership is leading the charge to better understand and improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education outcomes, particularly for women and girls.
Research conducted by Dr Rebecca Cooper on the status of education of girls and women in Victoria.
A profile of the current status of education of girls and women in Victoria has been prepared on behalf of the Invergowrie Foundation.
On behalf of the Council of the Invergowrie Foundation I am very pleased to provide this Chair’s report for 2019.
The last four years have seen the Council slowly shifting the focus on how the Foundation operates. We have changed our grant-making practices to focus on a single theme – and this theme is currently STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). The Council believes, as do the majority of the Foundation’s member schools that it is important that girls be encouraged to broaden their thinking about their career options and to ensure that they are not excluded from areas simply based on a conscious or unconscious gender-bias that says careers in the STEM area are only suited to men.
To this end we have been working to understand the best way to deliver on this approach.
Our ﬁrst step was to commission a research piece to provide a current snapshot of Girls and STEM using data from Australia and overseas. This research was undertaken by The University of Melbourne and Deakin University in partnership and culminated in The Invergowrie STEM report Girls’ Future – Our Future.
From this research the top 3 areas that the Council agreed to investigate were:
• How to improve the quality of teaching in STEM subjects at the primary level;
• To look at the opportunities to run programs or provide scholarships that support students to be inspired and supported;
• How to develop and build the capacity of Career Advisors/Teachers
Ms Wendy Lewis
To date we have undertaken to re-establish a scholarship at the University of Melbourne. The scholarship has been named The McPherson Family and Invergowrie Foundation PhD Scholarship for Women to honour the McPherson family who donated the Invergowrie property to the Headmistress’s Association in 1933. This scholarship is to support a woman to undertake a PhD in the STEM area.
Over the next four years the Foundation has committed to funding projects from Deakin University and Swinburne University of Technology. Deakin’s project is focused on Girls as Leaders in STEM (GALS). This project is an extension of a pilot project that Invergowrie funded previously. This project will target girls in the middle years of schooling within the area of Greater Geelong and extending to Warrnambool and the Mallee-Wimmera regions.
We are currently funding a project at Swinburne – Standing out from the crowd, which aims to tackle the issue of under-participation and underrepresentation of females in the Australian STEM sector. The project involves creating a series of educational resources proﬁling highly successful enterprising females in STEM and also conducting a knowledge-based train the trainer course for teachers focused on resource delivery in their classrooms. I believe a number of teachers from our member schools will be attending these workshops next week. A larger project from Swinburne the Foundation will fund over the next four years is focused on developing creative approaches to teaching STEM to advance female students (called Acorns to Oak Trees). This project will map and tailor existing programs and resources to the Victorian curriculum with the primary goal of providing primary schools with tailor-made STEM education resources to advance girls’ learning and upskill teachers. Resources will also be developed to generate awareness and understanding of STEM careers to parents of girls at primary school.
The Foundation is undertaking what we are labelling a signature project with Primary Connections, the Australian Academy of Science education program, to fund the development of a Professional Learning Program for primary teachers in our member schools. Further information about this program will be available in the coming months and it is currently planned to commence at the beginning of next year.
The other signature project we are looking to develop is in the area of Careers teachers to develop their STEM career awareness and enhance the advice provided to students in this area. To assist us to do this we have commissioned the research team from Deakin University/UoM to update The Invergowrie STEM report Girls’ Future – Our Future (we had determined to do this every 2 years) and to conduct a focused investigation into STEM career advice, as part of their research. The report is due for completion in early November. The ﬁndings from this report will enable the Council to consider how the Foundation can assistin building the capacity of careers teachers.
The next 4 years will see the Foundation invest over $3m into STEM focused projects. This approach will allow us to support targeted projects and provide funding certainty for the organisations we have commissioned to undertake these programs.
Last year, at the annual current and past Principal’s luncheon I said that in many ways generating the income is the easy part; and the diﬃcult part is ensuring that the funds that are distributed provide good outcomes that beneﬁt those they seek to support. While I still stand by this statement the ﬁnancial management of the Foundation is a strong focus of the Council and the expertise of the Investment and Finance Committee we have worked hard to ensure that we are well positioned to maximise the impact of the work we are doing.
Last year the value of the Foundation’s investments had grown to over $17m. As at 30 June 2019 the value of the portfolio was just under $20m. The signiﬁcant increase in the Foundation’s investments has been another deliberate strategy that the Council took, in shifting the focus of the Foundation operations, to strengthen our funding capacity and enables us to build strong partnerships that provide opportunities forour member schools to be involved and participate in the projects/programs that are developed, if they wish to do so.
Supporting the Council to implement the work that is being done is Kim Bartlett who has been appointed as our CEO. Kim has signed for the next 4 years and we are delighted that she will continue working with us as we continue forward.
At the 2018 Annual General Meeting Dr Susan Stevens retired from Council. I would like to acknowledge Susan and the signiﬁcant contribution she made to the Foundation. Susan joined the Foundation’s Grants Committee in 2004 and was elected to Council in 2006. She was Deputy Chair of the Foundation from 2013 until she retired. Susan brought to the Foundation a wealth of experience and a passion for the work that the Foundation does and for the direction that she helped to put in place. All members of the Council greatly appreciated her contribution, wise counsel and the collegiality that she brought to the Foundation.
As always, the work undertaken by the Council and the Finance Committee is amazing. The Finance Committee chaired by Anne Sarros with Heather Schnagl as Treasurer and Judith Potter, John Symons and Neil Tonkin, in conjunction with our investment advisor Ms Sandi Tuddenham of Bell Potter Securities, continues to provide careful management of the Foundation’s investment portfolio and this is greatly appreciated.
I would like to acknowledge and thank the members of the Council – Heather Schnagl (Treasurer), Susan Just, Meg Hansen, Judith Potter, Lisa Ronald and Anne Sarros. These women are passionate and dedicated to the work of The Invergowrie Foundation and provide the inspiration and momentum that drives the Foundation forward and it is a pleasure to be a part of such a wonderful group.
It is gratifying to know that the vision that has been developed is now starting to come together. It is only the beginning and there is still much more work to do but it is an exciting time for the everyone who is part of the Invergowrie family.