Schools First is a national awards program initiated by the National Australia Bank (NAB) in partnership with the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) and the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). NAB has committed $15 million in awards funding over three years to recognise and encourage excellence in school-community partnerships. The program was launched in October 2008 by the then Hon Julia Gillard, MP, and is being implemented from 2009-2011 inclusive. Schools First builds on the growing recognition that the task of raising young people who are resilient, adaptable and well-adjusted, rests on the shoulders of the entire community. It aims to bring teachers, students, parents, business, local government and community members together to share this responsibility. Schools First wants communities to become more involved in their local school and for an extended range of people to contribute to student learning. Effective school-community partnerships mean schools can draw from a much broader range of resources and support networks. The primary objective of the Schools First Awards program is to recognise the social networks that already exist between schools and communities and to encourage the strengthening of these and the building of new linkages. For the purposes of Schools First, ‘success’ in a school context means improved outcomes for students. Such outcomes may include: improved attendance, retention or graduation rates; better academic performance; more student engagement in learning; or increased self-esteem. Successful outcomes for a school starting from a low base, in terms of student performance or levels of student engagement, may be quite different from the successful outcomes of schools that are already high performing.
Simons, Robert, "First interim report of Schools First: Evaluation of the 2009 awards" (2010).