The SVA Education Dialogue

SVA is committed to an excellent and equitable education system in Australia and effecting systems change. The SVA Education Dialogues play an important role in the process, by convening education leaders and stakeholders from around Australia and building momentum to support change.

Bringing together an ‘uncommon alliance’ of leaders from across sectors and internationally, who are positioned to make a difference at a practical, policy and political level, the SVA Education Dialogues inspire new practice and energise new partnerships.

SVA recognises that Australia’s current and future education challenge is everyone’s concern. The Dialogues bring together leaders from education, government, business and philanthropy and academia. Each Dialogue focuses on identifying innovation, catalysing action, and connecting networks of people who are committed to equipping young people, regardless of background, to thrive in work and life.

The SVA Education Dialogue is chaired by Anthony Mackay AM.

SVA Education Dialogue 2017: Learning that Matters

The SVA Education Dialogue 2017: Learning that Matters, held in October addressed the education challenge presented by the future world of work. Diverse leaders came together to push for an agenda for change across all parts of the education system.

The sixth Education Dialogue generated a call for common action to ensure our young people are acquiring the broad set of capabilities – including critical thinking, creativity and non-routine problem solving – required for success in work and life. The SVA Education Dialogue 2017 consisted of three key events across two days: ‘Capabilities and Education System Reform Policy Roundtable: How do we do it?’ in Melbourne, and in Sydney the ‘2030 Education and Skills Seminar’ and the flagship ‘Education Dialogue 2017: Learning that Matters’ dinner.

With increased automation and artificial intelligence, the skills, knowledge, attitudes and values young people need now and in the future, are expanding. SVA recognises there’s a need to redouble efforts to keep up with the pace of change to achieve our goal of delivering a comprehensive education agenda by 2030.

SVA Education Dialogue 2017 speakers included:

  • Andreas Schleicher: Director for Education and Skills and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General, OECD
  • Dr Michele Bruniges AM: Secretary, Australian Department of Education and Training
  • Jan Owen AM: CEO, Foundation for Young Australians
  • Belinda Hutchinson AM: Chancellor, University of Sydney
  • Anthony Mackay AM: Chair, SVA Education Dialogue

Andreas Schleicher said:

We need to rethink the way we teach, learn, and assess progress; not just in Australia, but across the world. For example, we know it’s important for people to collaborate, compete, connect, and work with each other – and so we are beginning to test these skills through PISA. We’re doing so not just because it’s interesting but because these kinds of skills are playing an ever more important role for success in our society.’

Watch Andreas Schleicher’s keynote address on the Future of Education and Skills: Education2030.

Listen to the SVA Quarterly podcast where Andreas Schleicher outlines the ‘21st century skills’ or general capabilities, and discusses why they matter and whether they can be measured.

Key themes:

  1. The world of work is changing with increased automation and artificial intelligence and therefore the skills, knowledge, attitudes and values young people need now and in the future are expanding.
  2. Australian students compared to other OECD students are relying more on memorisation and rote learning than higher order elaboration skills like reasoning, critical thinking, creativity and non-routine problem solving. Literacy and numeracy will always be the building blocks for learning but it is not enough.
  3. Australian businesses need people with communication skills, creativity, resilience and an ability to keep on learning. Business leaders have been championing this agenda and want a bigger role at the table.
  4. Teacher professional collaboration is the key to school and system improvement. Australian teachers have significantly more face to face teaching time than other OECD countries. Less face to face teaching time allows for more intentional collaboration within the profession e.g. lesson observation and other targeted activities e.g. 1-1 tutoring of students.
  5. Universities are responding to employer demands for graduates with broader skill sets and are embedding competencies in the core curriculum.
  6. It’s the shared responsibility of all of us – students, parents and educators, government, philanthropists and business leaders – to support the change required.
  7.  Australia could address disadvantage in education by creating career incentives for teachers and getting the best teachers into the neediest schools.

Special thank you to our supporters – Paul Ramsay Foundation, the Commonwealth Bank, Bill and Heather Webster and AMP Foundation – for supporting the 2017 dialogue.


SVA Education Dialogue 2015: Building a culture of evidence-informed practice

In September 2015, education system leaders from across Australia joined national and international experts for the fifth Social Ventures Australia (SVA) Education Dialogue.

The Dialogue convened 150 senior national education leaders – representing all states and territories, all sectors, and national agencies and organisations – to focus our collective efforts on enabling and supporting great teaching in all schools through a culture of evidence-informed practice.  Such a collective focus is necessary to arrest the decline in the educational performance of Australian students and the widening gap in performance between the most and least advantaged young Australians.

SVA Education Dialogue 2015 was kindly supported by the Commonwealth Bank and the Australian Federal Department of Education and Training.


Education Dialogue 2014: Knowing is not enough: From bright spots to a bright system

Beginning on 15 October 2014, SVA hosted its fourth Education Dialogue. The core challenge for the Education Dialogue was how to address inequity by spreading good practice.

Three international guests shared their experiences with SVA Education Dialogue participants:

Videos of the day are also available.

SVA Education Dialogue resources

  • Overcoming barriers to spreading effective practice framework

The challenge of spreading good practice is central to SVA’s work in education.  As such, we used this year’s SVA Education Dialogue as an occasion to articulate our thinking about the barriers to spreading good practice and what we can do to overcome them. The framework below represents our first attempt to capture these thoughts. We view this as a living document to be updated and revised as we learn more, and we welcome your input. Our special thanks to Simon Breakspear for his important contribution.

Download the Overcoming barriers to spreading effective practice framework [PDF, 61kb]

  • Storify

Re-live the SVA Education Dialogue day action, tweet-by-tweet, with our Storify.

  • Bright Spot: National Exceptional Teachers for Disadvantaged Schools Program


Education Dialogue 2013: Bright Spots to a Bright System

The third SVA Education Dialogue was an opportunity to learn from the inspired education leaders who are using evidence-based approaches to make a difference in the education system. We were privileged to welcome Dr Vicki Phillips, Education Director at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to share the Gates Foundation’s journey using catalytic philanthropy to drive change.

Dr Vicki Phillips, Director of Education, Gates Foundation talks to Michael Traill AM, SVA during an ‘on the couch’ session at the SVA Education Dialogue 2013.

Together, our ‘uncommon alliance’ of educators, policymakers, business people, philanthropists, and changemakers affirmed its commitment to growing the impact of education Bright Spots, and to accelerating the change that enhances education outcomes in schools in disadvantaged communities.

Please find below the presentations from our inspiring speakers at the SVA Education Dialogue 2013.

You can also view the SVA Education Dialogue Storify, which follows a selection of tweets from the day.

Suzie Riddell, Executive Director of Education at SVA, opens the SVA Education Dialogue 2013.

Anthony Mackay AM, Chair, SVA Education Dialogue, fields questions from the floor.

Adam Smith talks to Kristian Jiminez, Thomas Jackson and Stephanie Armstrong to learn more about the student perspective.

Maxine McKew chairs a panel discussion on the National Exceptional Teachers for Disadvantaged Schools program.

Dr Vicki Phillips is joined on stage by Verity Firth and Ben Jensen.

Eager volunteers are put through their paces during a Beacon ‘Business Blackboard’ exercise.


SVA thanks the AMP Foundation, the Bryan Foundation, the Macquarie Group Foundation, The Trust Company and The Trust Company as trustee for The Fred P. Archer Charitable Trust for their generous support of the Education Dialogue 2013. 

Education Dialogue 2012: Great Teaching in Tough Schools

The Education Dialogue 2012 explored developing the teaching profession with a focus on understanding the skills required for teaching in disadvantaged communities. Areas covered over the course of the Dialogue were, innovations in teacher training and pathways into teaching, school-led early-stage teaching support and development, school-university partnerships, and teachers accessing skills and support beyond the classroom.

An incredible day of inspiration and passion, the SVA Education Dialogue 2012 showed us what is possible with committed, evidence-based, collaborative and passionate action on the ground to change the game for disadvantaged students.

Michael Traill AM, SVA opens the SVA Education Dialogue 2012.


What do you see as the biggest issues facing low SES schools today? Participants of the SVA Education Dialogue 2012 discuss the issues affecting education outcomes for young people in low socio-economic areas.

Download the Insights and Actions report from the SVA Education Dialogue 2012 (PDF)



Education Dialogue 2011: Effective School Leadership in Disadvantaged Schools

The inaugural SVA Education Dialogue brought together an exceptional group of education practitioners, policy makers, academics, non-profits, business leaders and philanthropists to showcase what is working to turn around student achievement in disadvantaged schools. The Dialogue focused on effective leadership, and lessons from schools working within the Smarter Schools National Partnership for Low Socio-economic Status School Communities.

Following the Dialogue, SVA continued discussions with a number of governments and key sector leaders around these issues, with a particular focus on sharing innovation generated through the National Partnership.

A key piece of resulting collaborative work is the partnership between SVA and Queensland’s Department of Education, Training and Employment, with the generous support of the Bryan Foundation. The partnership showcased success in Queensland’s low SES National Partnership Schools. The project generated an online resource for principals – identifying six schools which have seen significant changes in outcomes through working within the National Partnership, telling their stories and highlighting action-focused insights to inspire and guide principals at other low SES schools in Queensland and throughout Australia.

Download a copy of the Education Dialogue 2011 Communique (PDF, 633KB).