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Analysis of agency performance

A9 Analysis of agency performance

The Department identified 15 priority areas as articulated in the 2009-10 Budget Paper No. 4. The performance of the Department over 2009-10 is reported against these priorities.

Lowering class sizes across all years in ACT public schools

Reduction of average class sizes was an election commitment funded through the 2009-10 Budget, at a cost of $28.7 million over four years.

Implementation of the commitment commenced in 2010, with 70 additional teachers appointed (10 in primary schools, 50 in high schools and 10 in colleges). The initiative allowed for average class sizes to be reduced to 21.4 in primary schools (kindergarten to year 6) and high schools, and 19.4 in colleges.

Progress in the first year of implementation shows that average class sizes in 2010 were lower than in 2009. While the targets have already been met for primary schools and colleges, more work needs to be done to reduce high school class sizes over the remaining three years of implementation.

On a national basis, the ACT compared very well with other jurisdictions. Data is collected and reported annually on student to teacher ratios. In 2009, the ACT had the second lowest student to teacher ratio for both primary and secondary public schools, behind the Northern Territory (Figures A9.1 and A9.2).

Figure A9.1: Student to teacher ratios in primary public schools, 2009Student to teacher ratios in primary public schools, 2009

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2010, Schools Australia 2009

Figure A9.2: Student to teacher ratios in public secondary schools, 2009Student to teacher ratios in public secondary schools, 2009

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2010, Schools Australia 2009

Enhancing the literacy and numeracy performance of all students with a focus on Indigenous students

In 2010 all students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 were tested in reading, writing, language conventions, and numeracy. This was the third year of the National Assessment Program- Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) program. Results from the 2010 tests are not yet available.

In December 2009 a national Report was produced by the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA). The 2009 Report showed that in all year levels and most tests the ACT achieved the highest mean score, or was ranked at or near the top when compared with all jurisdictions.

ACT results for years 3, 5, 7 and 9 in reading (Figure A9.3) were the highest in Australia and substantially above the national mean, a similar level of attainment to 2008 NAPLAN. Between 93 and 96 percent of all students performed at or above the national minimum standard.

Figure A9.3: Mean scale score in reading for years 3, 5, 7, and 9 students by jurisdiction, NAPLAN 2009Mean scale score in reading for years 3, 5, 7, and 9 students by jurisdiction, NAPLAN 2009

Source: Ministerial Council on Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs 2009, National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy; Achievement in Reading, Writing, Language Conventions and Numeracy 2009

Results in writing across all year levels (Figure A9.4) were less strong than the results for reading. Generally, the ACT was equal first with other jurisdictions when confidence levels were applied.

Figure A9.4: Mean scale score in writing for years 3, 5, 7, and 9 students by jurisdiction, NAPLAN 2009Mean scale score in writing for years 3, 5, 7, and 9 students by jurisdiction, NAPLAN 2009

Source: Ministerial Council on Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs 2009, National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy; Achievement in Reading, Writing, Language Conventions and Numeracy 2009

In numeracy, the ACT had the highest results with confidence levels applied, along with NSW and Victoria in all years except year 7 where Queensland and Western Australia also recorded equivalent results (Figure A9.5). The results were above the national mean in all years except year 7 where it was statistically equivalent to the national mean. In all years, 95 percent of students performed at or above the national minimum standard.

Figure A9.5: Mean scale score in numeracy for years 3, 5, 7, and 9 students by jurisdiction, NAPLAN 2009Mean scale score in numeracy for years 3, 5, 7, and 9 students by jurisdiction, NAPLAN 2009

Source: Ministerial Council on Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs 2009, National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy; Achievement in Reading, Writing, Language Conventions and Numeracy 2009

The Department has taken a targeted approach to raising literacy and numeracy standards and addressing gaps in achievement. System-wide indicators have been established and translated into individual school targets. Driving the improvement agenda is the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy 2009-2013 , which provides a framework for building teacher capacity and improving student outcomes over five years. Implementation of this plan has impacted upon many aspects of teaching.

As part of the Literacy and Numeracy National Partnership Agreement, 21 literacy and numeracy officers were appointed: one each to four ACT low socio-economic schools; one each to support 12 targeted primary schools; and five to support targeted high schools. These officers work intensively with the schools, coaching teachers and supporting the school with literacy and numeracy practices to improve student learning outcomes.

In addition, 55 participating primary and high schools identified from within their staff, a dedicated literacy and numeracy coordinator. These coordinators are expected to spend half their allocated time coaching and the other half providing targeted support to identified students.

The First Steps Expo held in November 2009 provided an opportunity to showcase and celebrate the embedding of the First Steps Second Edition literacy resource in nine ACT public primary schools. Over 500 primary school teachers from within the public education sector attended the event.

While acknowledging the ACT’s excellent results, Indigenous students continue to perform less well than their non-Indigenous peers. In the ACT, the greatest difference between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students was in year 3 grammar and punctuation, reading and spelling. The situation improves as students move through school; with the achievement gap at its lowest by year 9.

In 2010, the Department commenced the development of a comprehensive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy aligning to the MCEECDYA’s Indigenous Education Action Plan 2010-2014 and the Department’s Strategic Plan.

The ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy will provide clear direction for the implementation of the MCEECDYA’s Action Plan across all sections of the Department. This includes setting specific priorities and measures to achieve the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) targets:

  • halve the gap for Indigenous students in reading, writing and numeracy within a decade (by 2018)
  • at least halve the gap in Indigenous year 12 attainment or equivalent attainment rates by 2020.

In the reporting period, 141 students from kindergarten to year 4 were supported by six Indigenous Literacy and Numeracy Officers. These officers were appointed to a school for a term and worked collaboratively with classroom teachers to model effective literacy and numeracy practices, to differentiate the curriculum, and to address the diverse needs of all students.

Also in 2010, the Department commenced developing and implementing a professional learning package for departmental staff involving a series of modules covering cultural competencies. This approach allows flexibility of delivery while also recognising that all employees are at different stages of understanding and levels of competency regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, peoples and cultures. The development of this program supports staff across the Department, and in schools, to build and enhance relationships, understanding, awareness and connectedness with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, parents, staff and community; facilitating the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives across the curriculum.

The School Leadership in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education program continued to provide principals and deputy principals with a targeted sequence of professional learning. This included opportunities for principals to share examples of good practice with colleagues. One element of the school leadership program offered in 2009 was the opportunity for schools to undertake local inquiry studies or action research projects.

A total of 22 schools across all sectors commenced a learning journey which involved them in identifying a need or concern at the school, developing a plan, and ensuring that standard elements such as qualitative data were evident in all projects. In 2010, schools have been invited to share journeys and learning outcomes through professional development opportunities as part of the program.

Ensuring the ACT has the best teachers in its classrooms

The Quality Teaching Initiative completed its first full year of implementation in 2009. During the year all teachers in ACT public schools were introduced to the Quality Teaching model. Three Quality Teaching consultants, each with responsibility for a district, worked closely with the cluster coordinators to familiarise teachers with the model. The model provides a lens for describing and reflecting on classroom practice and assessment. Professional development workshops exploring the use of the model were delivered.

The initiative is designed to broaden access to professional recognition and continuing professional development for all teachers, including women, Indigenous persons and persons traditionally disadvantaged in the jobs market. The long-term aim is to create a more innovative, educated and motivated teaching workforce capable of contributing to community and regional economic growth through enhanced teaching practices and higher quality student outcomes.

The leadership program, Leading to Leadership, continued in this reporting period. Participants undertook in-school projects, attended workshops on coaching, education futures and action learning. On 1 December 2009, 119 participants graduated at a special ceremony at Old Parliament House. This program has also been recognised by the University of Canberra as contributing credits to a Master of Education course. In 2010, the program again attracted a large field, with 130 participants.

Through the Department’s Teachers Professional Learning Fund, support was provided to teachers through the Numeracy for Vocational Learning initiative. The program developed practical curriculum and support materials to assist schools in providing learning to students to better prepare them for post school learning and employment. Teachers from ACT public high schools and colleges participated in the program and an industry consultation group provided advice and support throughout the development of the learning materials.

Implementing COAG reforms in education, skills and early childhood development

The Department is committed to participating in a comprehensive national education reform agenda. To facilitate this agenda, the ACT has agreed to National Partnership initiatives that will see up to $107 million in Australian Government funding go to ACT early childhood education, schools and vocational programs. These partnerships began operating in 2009 and will continue until 2013; except the National Partnership Agreement on Low Socio-economic Status (SES) School Communities which will expire in 2015.

National Partnership Agreements continue to mark a new way in which public and non- government school sectors work together with the Australian Government to deliver better outcomes for students. The National Partnerships focus on the following areas of priority: Literacy and Numeracy; Low SES School Communities; Teacher Quality; Digital Education Revolution; Early Childhood Education; Productivity Places Program; and Youth Attainment and Transitions.

As reported in the 2008-09 Annual Report, the Department signed a bilateral agreement with the Australian Government for the ‘Smart Schools’ set of partnerships. These agreements focus on improving literacy and numeracy outcomes, improving teacher quality and improving outcomes for low SES school communities. During 2009-10 the Department completed implementation plans for these partnerships. The implementation plans include measures of performance, performance targets and reporting timelines. If performance targets are met, the Department will be able to access reward payments in 2011, and use these to further enhance literacy and numeracy outcomes in the ACT. The first round of reporting against partnership targets is due late in 2010.

In 2009-10 the Department was instrumental in implementing the Productivity Places Program. This is a National Partnership project under the Australian Government’s Skilling Australia for the Future initiative and aims to reduce skills shortages and increase the productivity of industry and enterprises. The Program offers training which leads to local employment opportunities for job seekers and upgrading of skills for existing workers.

In early 2009, all ACT schools collected data on kindergarten students as part of implementation of the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI). The Index is a COAG-supported national survey of all children in their first year of full-time schooling.

The AEDI is derived from checklists completed by teachers on all children in the kindergarten year on five AEDI domains: physical health and wellbeing; social competence; emotional maturity; language and cognitive skills; and communication skills and general knowledge.

AEDI results were reported publicly in December 2009 through a national report (A Snapshot of Early Childhood Development in Australia ) and online community maps. Schools were able to download AEDI School Profiles which showed the results for their kindergarten cohort.

Results for the ACT (Figure A9.6) showed areas where children in Canberra are lagging behind national results. Particularly in respect of physical health and well-being, the ACT had a smaller proportion of children ‘on track’ than was the case nationally.

Figure A9.6: Development profile of ACT and Australian five year-old students, AEDI 2009Development profile of ACT and Australian five year-old students, AEDI 2009

Source: Centre for Community Child Health and Telethon Institute for Child Health Research 2009, A Snapshot of Early Childhood Development in Australia – AEDI National Report 2009, Australian Government, Canberra

AEDI data was used to inform policy and program decisions including the rollout of the Universal Access to 15 hours of preschool education initiative. The ACT Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services, Child and Family Centres were also provided with data to enable further analysis and research as required.

The COAG early childhood reform agenda includes the establishment of the National Quality Standard to apply to all services for children birth to five years of age. The National Quality Standard has been agreed by all states and territories and in 2010 implementation incrementally commenced.

There will be a minimum qualification requirement for assistants working within ACT public preschool units. The ACT has negotiated a training package with the Canberra Institute of Technology to provide Certificate III in Children’s Services with 120 assistants undertaking the qualification in 2010.

Delivering the Building the Education Revolution (BER) initiative funded under the Australian Government’s Nation Building and Jobs Plan

The Australian Government is investing $150 million to upgrade ACT public schools through the BER initiative. This is in addition to the ACT Government’s $523 million investment, from 2006-07 to 2013-14, to modernise our schools for 21st century teaching and learning, and build schools where they are most needed.
Projects funded under the BER are progressing well. There are two main components to the BER initiative in the ACT. National School Pride (NSP) projects are small scale infrastructure and minor refurbishments such as shade structures, and classroom and school entry upgrades. All 84 NSP projects were completed in the reporting period.

Primary Schools for the 21st Century (P21) projects include new classrooms, libraries, multipurpose buildings, and the refurbishment of halls and classrooms. By 30 June 2010, 19 of the 68 P21 projects, funded for ACT public schools, were completed. All other projects are on schedule for completion by December 2010, in line with Australian government guidelines.

Constructing new schools and upgrading school facilities

The Department has been busy with construction, refurbishment and upgrades. In October 2009 construction began on the new P–10 school in Kambah and Gungahlin College, with both sites to open for the start of the 2011 school year.

Projects under the five-year Schools Infrastructure Refurbishment program ($86 million) were well advanced. Both the extension of the resources centre at Narrabundah College and the extension of the assembly hall at Miles Franklin Primary School were completed on 14 December 2009. Other projects will be completed by June 2011.

Other capital works projects completed include the refurbishment of the Erindale Leisure Centre (19 October) and the hydrotherapy pool at Turner School (14 December), as well as the construction of new gymnasiums at Belconnen and Stromlo high schools (23 November). In December 2009, the installation of roof safety systems at all ACT public schools was completed.

Aranda Primary School

The Building the Education Revolution program has had a tremendous impact on schools, as seen in the before and after photos of Aranda Primary School.

Aranda Primary School

Contributing to the strengthening of Canberra’s economy and its community by targeting Vocational Education and Training (VET) funding to areas of skill shortage

The 2008-09 ACT Budget provided an extra $4.169 million over four years to meet the continuing high demand for Australian Apprenticeships through the User Choice program. This program supports and encourages lifelong learning as it is available to anyone of working age, including school leavers, people re-entering the workforce or people wishing to change careers.

In addition, the Australian Apprenticeships program recognises existing skills and prior experience, potentially reducing formal training time. Available as full-time or part- time, an Australian Apprenticeship leads to nationally recognised qualifications and skills which provide the basis for further education and training over a person’s working life. In 2009-10 there were 4,542 commencements in Australian Apprenticeships through User Choice.

The Department’s Priorities Support Program (PSP) provides flexible and responsive VET opportunities for persons in equity target groups. In 2009-10, 1,526 training clients were funded to a total of $2.32 million.

Participants included:

  • people with a disability or mental illness, which may affect access to training and employment
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
  • mature aged workers (aged 40 years and over)
  • youth at risk (aged 16-24 years)
  • small business employee/employers (fewer than 20 employees)
  • casual workers and volunteers.

The ACT Adult and Community Education Grants Program (ACE), administered by the Department, is part of the continuum of education and training provision in the ACT. In 2010, the Department granted $250,000 to community education providers for the delivery of 20 community-based education courses, six of which were specifically designed to improve adult literacy.

For example, the Department granted $14,500 for the Links to Learning: Adult Literacy Program, a literacy tutoring program that delivers free tutorial lessons in literacy and information technology skills to adults living in the ACT. The program aims to assist the students to develop new pathways to further education and lifelong learning.

The Department actively supports the ACT Strategic Plan for Positive Ageing 2010-2014 and in particular, ‘Strategic priority 7: work and retirement’. This strategy focuses on active participation in the community in the senior years of life.

The PSP and ACE programs provided opportunities for seniors to access educational and recreational activities. During 2009-10, 84 seniors participated in subsidised accredited vocational training under the PSP and 19 of the 20 ACE courses were accessible to seniors depending on their interests. Details of ACE courses can be found in section C15.

In 2009, 1,127 students in ACT public colleges and high schools received 1,234 nationally recognised VET qualifications ranging in level from Certificate I to Certificate III. The Certificate III qualifications attained were in the areas of Business and Information Technology. Additionally, 1,459 students achieved a total of 2,344 Statements of Attainment.

Between March and June 2010, the Department conducted consultation forums involving VET stakeholders from 37 industries. The aim of these consultations was to gain advice about local VET needs from employers, registered training organisations (RTO), group training organisations, unions, industry associations and peak bodies to inform the 2011 ACT Annual Training Priorities.

According to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research publication Employers’ use and views of the VET system 2009 , the level of employer satisfaction with the training of apprentices and trainees as a way of meeting skill needs has increased to 85 percent in 2009, compared with 82 percent in the previous survey conducted in 2007 (Figure A9.7).

Figure A9.7: Employer satisfaction with training by jurisdiction, 2007 and 2009Employer satisfaction with training by jurisdiction, 2007 and 2009

Source: National Centre for Vocational Education Research 2009, Employers’ use and views of the VET system 2009

At the 2009 Australian Training Awards, more organisations were shortlisted from the ACT than from any other state and territory. The Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT ) was chosen as one of three finalists in the Large RTO category and Canberra College was one of the top three in the VET in Schools category for their Futures Program, which has a focus on delivering VET to students with a disability. ACT organisations were also shortlisted in the Small RTO and Employer of the Year categories.

2009 was another successful year for ACT VET students. Lake Ginninderra College student Mr Alex Agostino was the winner of the ACT Australian School-based Apprentice of the Year.

ACT Australian School-based Apprentice of the Year 2009, Alex Agostino

ACT Australian School-based Apprentice of the Year 2009, Alex Agostino

The Department acknowledges the importance of providing opportunities for high achieving VET students’ skills and talents to be recognised and challenged. WorldSkills is a program of competitions showcasing youth skills achievement in VET and trade excellence. In 2009-10, the Department led and coordinated WorldSkills activity across the ACT, including Try’a Trade exhibits, VET in Schools competitions, as well as competitions in the Open category.

At the 2010 WorldSkills National competition in May 2010, four members of the ACT WorldSkills team were awarded medals.

In 2009-10, system-wide documents and procedures were prepared as part of the Moving Forward initiative. These documents and procedures will streamline the process of recognition of prior learning processes within the college sector. The Department also conducted a review in 2010 into Accredited (A) courses and how the content and assessment of VET-related A-courses aligned with employer and other workplace requirements.

The Department has been active in expanding its connections with post-school institutions. With a view to enhancing career pathways and facilitating transitions into the workplace we have placed a priority on providing flexible and responsive vocational-based training options, and engaging with industry and employers to ensure students’ training options are relevant and rewarding.

In June 2010, CIT committed to work with a range of primary school communities to provide early careers information leading to an expanded understanding of career options in the training sector. The commitment is funded ($6 million) to raise family awareness of post- school opportunities leading to better home support of students when making career choices.

Our partnership with the CIT contributes to addressing and reducing skill shortages.

The Department developed learning resources for teaching specific maths skills needed in a broad range of apprenticeships and traineeships. The resources developed include: units for the General Mathematics and Mathematics Application courses; high school numeracy units focused on automotive, hospitality and horticulture; and a compilation of electronic resources. The resource development was informed by input from a wide range of VET stakeholders, identifying the numeracy expectations of employers and training providers regarding students’ preparedness for vocational learning beyond school.

The Department, ACT Stimulus Package Taskforce, Construction Industry Training Council, and Indigenous Success Australia worked to maximize the opportunities for the employment of Indigenous apprentices and workers. As a result, successful construction companies agreed to employ at least one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander worker.

Supporting the improvement of information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure in schools

NAP-ICTL is a performance measure of the ability of students to use ICT appropriately; to access, manage, integrate and evaluate information; develop new understanding; and communicate with others in order to participate in society. The ACT had the greatest percentage of students attaining the proficient standard (75% at year 6 and 77% at year 10).

In the ACT the increase in attainment of the proficient standard from 2005 to 2008 at year 6 was significant. The ACT was one of four jurisdictions showing a significant improvement at year 6.

Figure A9.8: Percentage of years 6 and 10 students attaining the Proficient Standard in information and communication literacy by jurisdiction in NAP-ICTL, 2005 and 2008Percentage of years 6 and 10 students attaining the Proficient Standard in information and communication literacy by jurisdiction in NAP-ICTL, 2005 and 2008

Source: Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs 2007 and 2010, National Assessment Program – ICT Literacy Years 6 and 10 Reports, 2005 and 2008

In December 2009, and ahead of schedule, the fibre to schools project was completed providing gigabit access to ACT schools. This high-bandwidth network is the only one of its kind in the Australian education sector and enables faster internet services, video conferencing and more responsive applications.

Under the Digital Education Revolution (DER) National Partnership funding was provided for 4,518 ICT devices. To date, 4,258 devices have been purchased and deployed to ACT public high schools and colleges in order to reach the initial 1:2 ratio required. A further 5,000 netbook computers will be deployed before December 2011 to meet the 1:1 ratio required under the DER National Partnership.

Eight ACT public schools are piloting the new Connected Learning Community (cLc) virtual learning environment. The roll-out of the cLc is part of the ACT Government’s $20 million Smart Schools: Smart Students initiative. All schools are expected to be online for the beginning of the 2011 school year.

The cLc incorporates five key elements of the Smart Schools: Smart Students initiative:

  • podcasting
  • video conferencing
  • parent portal
  • digital portfolio
  • video on demand.

In 2010 implementation of the ACT Government ICT in Primary Schools project commenced. This three year program will ensure the delivery of a minimum 1:6 ratio of computers to students in kindergarten to year 6, as well as ensuring a ratio of 1:2 Interactive whiteboards per classroom. A next generation portable multi touch interactive plasma display will also be provided to each public preschool under this program.

The Microsoft Partners in Learning program has been a successful relationship between the Department and Microsoft with both teachers and school communities benefiting from participation in the program.

Mr Ed Staples from Erindale College received the ACT Microsoft Innovative Teacher award for 2009 and represented the ACT at the Asia Pacific Innovative teachers conference. Hawker College was selected as one of only 20 Microsoft Innovative schools in Australia in 2009-10. This enabled Hawker College to participate in national collaboration with other leading ICT schools on sharing best practice in teaching and learning with technology.

The Apple program recognises the skills of first-class educators from around the world who are leading the way in the field of educational technology. This program commenced in 1994 and now, after 15 years, there are more than 1,500 educators around the globe making use of technology to deliver primary, secondary and tertiary education to students. Mr Bruce Fuda, Executive Teacher for information and communications technology at Stromlo High School, was selected to join the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) program as a member of the Class of 2009. Mr Fuda is one of 40 newly selected members for the ADE class of 2009 in Australia.

Bruce Fuda with students from Stromlo High School

Bruce Fuda with students from Stromlo High School

Increasing the number of Indigenous teachers and teachers’ aids in our public schools

To promote education and training career options for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders 10 scholarships have been awarded to students in years 11 and 12 who wish to progress to university and pursue a career in teaching.

Late in 2009, 19 applicants completed a rigorous, merit based selection process for the scholarship program. Students presented evidence of achievements and reflected on learning and future pathways at selection panels. It is envisaged that the current scholarship recipients will in time inspire younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to also develop leadership and teaching skills.

In 2009-10, the Department worked with the Australian National University to attract Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students into the Secondary College project with a view to taking up a tertiary science degree; and if successful gaining early entry to the University’s post graduate medical degree. In 2010, there were five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students participating in the program.

Improving learning outcomes for students with English as a second language (ESL)

Generally, students with a language background other than English (LBOTE) achieved a higher mean score in NAPLAN results in writing, spelling and numeracy than non-LBOTE students. In reading, while the mean score was lower for LBOTE students, the difference was not significant (Figure A9.9).

Figure A9.9: Mean scale score for LBOTE and non-LBOTE students in years 3, 5, 7, and 9 by domain and jurisdiction, NAPLAN 2009
Mean scale score for LBOTE and non-LBOTE students in years 3, 5, 7, and 9 by domain and jurisdiction, NAPLAN 2009

Source: Ministerial Council on Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs 2009, National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy; Achievement in Reading, Writing, Language Conventions and Numeracy 2009

ESL enrolments in ACT public schools increased during 2009, with 11 percent of the student population speaking a language other than English at home.

Significant resources were directed to mainstream schools to support ESL students with the greatest need. The secondary and three primary Introductory English Centres enrolled 498 students with minimal English language skills in 2009, including 41 refugee/ humanitarian visa holders.

The Secondary Introductory English Centre at Dickson College established a Bridging program for refugee students and, throughout 2009, had a steady increase in enrolments. Six students who began the program in 2009 became full-time college students. Enrolments increased further in 2010 with another 17 students enrolling. The program caters to literacy and welfare needs as well as academic progress.

A 2009-10 ACT Budget initiative provided $3.144 million over four years to the ESL program (Table A9.1). This initiative provides an additional eight teachers to improve learning outcomes for ESL students, increasing the number of ESL students who can receive targeted additional support.

Table A9.1: Funding for English as a Second Language program, 2009-10 to 2012-13

428 883 905 928

Source: ACT Treasury 2009, ACT Budget Paper No.4, 2009-10

Supporting ESL teachers in identifying, assessing and planning for ESL students has been a feature of the ESL Teachers’ Network Meetings. Technical information on data entry has been addressed through database training modules.

Professional learning, to build teacher capacity in addressing the needs of ESL students, continued through the delivery of a number of courses. These included Teaching ESL Students in Mainstream Classrooms, ESL in the Mainstream for the Early Learner, and Time for Talk.

Incorporating Strategies for an Inclusive Curriculum (InSinc) continued to be offered as a professional development program. The InSinc program addresses the language and literacy needs of a diverse range of students in mainstream classes including ESL learners, students with learning difficulties and gifted and talented students.

Three versions of the course became available to cater to sector cohorts. In the 2009-10, 30 primary school teachers, 100 high school teachers and five college teachers undertook InSinc professional learning. This program has been aligned to the Quality Teaching model and embeds the essential content from the ACT Curriculum Framework, Every chance to learn .

Strengthening and improving language education

In 2010, there were 50 primary schools conducting languages programs. This was an increase of 20 schools from 2008. All primary schools will offer languages for a minimum of 60 minutes per week in years 3 to 6 in 2011. In 2010, all high schools offered a languages program. High schools will offer languages for 150 minutes (one line) per week for all students in years 7 and 8 by 2011.

The implementation of this policy requirement saw over 2,630 additional students take up the study of a language other than English in 2009, over and above those who were already participating in such study in 2007.

Promoting participationof Australian School-based Apprenticeships (ASBAs)

Emphasis has been on transitioning ASBAs into appropriate post-school destinations and filling the positions vacated by graduating apprentices.

One challenge was to ensure all students were aware of the ASBA opportunities available. In 2009-10 departmental staff actively promoted two ASBA programs in the financial and sport and recreation sectors that specifically target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

A second challenge was to make undertaking an ASBA feasible for more students by improving the balance between school based course-work and external training requirements. In 2010, implementation of E courses by the Board of Senior Secondary Studies has increased recognition of ASBAs towards the requirements for an ACT Year 12 Certificate.

ASBAs provide students with the opportunity to achieve a nationally recognised vocational qualification by combining paid work and training as part of their education. In 2009, there were 403 ASBA student commencements in ACT public and non- government schools. This was 22 percent increase on 2008 commencement numbers, bringing the ACT closer to its target of 500 ASBA commencements per year.

Nurturing gifted and talented students and ensuring better outcomes for all students

A curriculum officer was appointed at the beginning of term 4 to deliver professional learning in the gifted and talented curriculum area. The officer formed an action plan for 2010 which included a range of initiatives designed to assist schools in the implementation of the 2008 Gifted and Talented Students policy.

In 2009, the ANU Secondary College Program offered courses to gifted and talented students in Japanese, conservation biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics. All of the 90 year 12 enrolled students achieved well and all received offers of early entry to the Australian National University.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing sustainability in schools

In line with the ACT Climate Change Strategy 2007-2025, the Department is helping schools to be carbon neutral by 2017. This is a challenging task but there is steady progress towards reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in public schools. CO2 emissions decreased by three percent (944 tonnes) from 2007-08 to 2008-09 (Figure A9.10).

Figure A9.10: CO2 emissions from public schools, 2006-07 to 2008-09CO2 emissions from public schools, 2006-07 to 2008-09

Source: Schools Capital Works Branch, ACT Department of Education and Training

Continuing to support non-government schools

The Department is responsible, under the Education Act 2004 , for the registration of non-government schools in the ACT. In this reporting period there were 44 registered non- government schools in the ACT.

During the reporting period:

  • no applications for in-principle approval of a new school, or additional educational levels or campus were received
  • no provisional or initial registration processes were undertaken
  • one Catholic systemic school received approval to change its name
  • one independent school received approval to change its location
  • one independent school expanded to include an additional year level
  • one Catholic systemic school opened an additional campus
  • the registration of four independent schools was renewed
  • two Catholic systemic schools were visited by registration panels for renewal of registration.

In order to measure client satisfaction, non- government schools and associations, and the ACT home education networks, were asked to participate in a client satisfaction survey. This survey sought to gauge the stakeholder’s level of satisfaction with both registration processes and administration processes and:

  • timeliness of responses to queries
  • quality of advice
  • overall services provided by the
  • Non-government Education Section.

Responses to the client satisfaction survey were received from 15 independent schools, the Association of Independent Schools, the Catholic Education Office and one home education network. The Catholic Education Office manages 27 Catholic systemic schools within the ACT.

All respondents were satisfied with the following services provided by the Non- government Education Section: timeliness of responses to queries; quality of advice; and overall services.

The Department places importance in retaining a strong and effective relationship with the non-government education sector.

During the reporting period the Department continued the central communication processes established in 2008-09 between ACT Health and non-government schools. This communication process provided information to the Catholic Education Office, the Association of Independent Schools and Home Educator Networks about seasonal and H1N1 influenza. Communication strategies were extended to include a range of matters including emergency management in the event of bushfire.

The Department processes distance education applications and provides funding for ACT residents enrolled in ACT public or non- government schools.

In 2009-10, eight students originating from non-government schools applied for full-time distance education. Of these eight students, six enrolled for secondary courses and two enrolled for primary courses.

During the reporting period, 169 children from 121 families were registered for home education. All registration applications were processed within the required timeframe.

Of the 169 children registered for home education 64 students were registered for provisional home education; 25 of these did not proceed to full registration, transitioning to a variety of educational destinations. These destinations included public and non-government schooling, the Canberra Institute of Technology, interstate, overseas, distance education, or into the workforce.

In 2009-10, seven students were registered or provisionally registered for part-time home education. The Department has a part-time home education agreement to assist school principals and home educators to define roles and responsibilities, including duty of care issues, in the provision of education for students in the ACT.

Registered home educators with children in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 were invited to register their children for the NAPLAN testing in May 2010. The Department worked closely with home educators to facilitate 13 home educated students’ participation in NAPLAN.

All home educators with current registration at the end of 2009 fulfilled the requirement to forward an annual report to the Department. The annual report provides an overview of the home education program, as well as details of student achievement and participation in external competitions and examinations.

For more information contact:
Measurement, Monitoring and Reporting
(02) 6205 5511

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