In 2011 the Origin Energy Foundation partnered with Big Picture Education Australia to help it chart a different course for students struggling through conventional high school and with little hope of progressing to university or further study.
Seven years on, the program is providing a successful alternative pathway for students to higher education in circumstances where they may have battled to finish school.
The program is developing a new way of learning that takes students away from traditional academically focused education to build a high school curriculum around the specific interests of each student, with smaller classes, closer relationships with teachers and enriching work experience.
Many Australian universities are now accepting Big Picture graduates on the basis of a portfolio rather than their marks.
With the Help of the Foundation, Big Picture is now operating in more than 40 schools around the country.
Sean Barrett, head of the Origin Energy Foundation, said Big Picture was helping students see a pathway from higher education to tertiary education to meaningful careers.
“These young people from the Big Picture system have found what interests them and settled on a career path aligned with their passion, built their schooling around this and now see university as a means to that end, not an end in itself,” said Barrett.
“Compare this with the experience of a quarter of recent graduates in full-time jobs who believe their roles are unrelated to their studies, with their degree adding nothing to their employability.”
The Foundation’s support for Big Picture is just one of dozens of partnerships with organisations using education to break the cycle of disadvantage and empower young people to reach their full potential.
Recently Good Weekend magazine looked at how our partnership with Big Picture is changing lives, speaking with students who have graduated from the program and revealing how they found a new purpose and are on the path to rewarding careers.