The year ahead will see the Department continue to position itself within the national reform agenda and strive to maximise opportunities for local improvement. The unprecedented size and rate of change will be challenging but through careful management of resources the implementation of local and national initiatives offers a rewarding outlook.
Our key goal for 2010-11 is to ensure that all students are supported and engaged to achieve their full potential. We will ensure that the academic performance of ACT students remains at the top of the country and that retention rates through to year 12 also remain the best in the nation. Our goal to increase retention rates is complemented by the passing of the new participation legislation. Changes to the ACT Education Act 2004 require all children to be studying or working until they are 17 years old. We will also strive to increase participation in our training and tertiary sector, an area where growth has been strong over the last year.
The Department’s Strategic Plan 2010-2013 provides the vision for our work over the next four years. It sets out four key goals in learning and teaching, school environment, transitions and pathways, and corporate leadership, and the priorities that underpin these goals.
Key priorities in the Strategic Plan are to ensure that we engage and retain teachers of the highest quality, that students have access to 21st century facilities and that we have a renewed focus on school collaboration and improvement.
Key to ensuring that the ACT has the best classroom teachers is the establishment of the ACT Teacher Quality Institute. The Institute will begin operations in 2011 and will be responsible for teacher registration, accreditation of pre-service teacher education programs, and certification of teachers in the ACT against national standards.
In the area of education for students with a disability, the Strategic Plan will be supported through the development and implementation of a comprehensive disability education strategy. This strategy will be guided by the outcomes of the Review of Special Education in the ACT, undertaken during 2009.
While the literacy and numeracy results of our students remain among the best in the country, we will be seeking to enhance the performance of ACT students even further. Our local actions, including a focus on improving teacher quality in the ACT, and the partnership with the Australian Government, will ensure that we achieve this important priority. As part of our efforts in this respect we will continue with programs designed to close the achievement gap in the performance of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. We are committed to the national goal of halving this achievement gap by 2018.
A major initiative over the coming year will be the introduction of the Australian Curriculum. The involvement of ACT schools in trialling the new curriculum in 2010 (from kindergarten to year 10) will enable us to be in the best position for implementation in all schools in 2011.
During the upcoming year we will continue to strengthen our leadership and provide greater opportunities for our emerging leaders. The Strategic Plan provides the basis for a stronger direction in relation to school performance and improvement. ACT principals will have more support in relating school performance to improvement and greater accountability for achieving results. In rolling out changes, in response to the Review of School Based Management, principals will have greater flexibility in the management of school resources and in staffing decisions in order to deliver on school improvement initiatives.
With the establishment of the new Tertiary and International Education Division, the Department has increased focus on training and tertiary education, including student transitions and pathways. We will also explore ways to increase the provision of flexible and responsive vocationally based training for students, job seekers and existing workers. In late 2010, the ACT Tertiary Taskforce will provide a report with recommendations to the ACT Government. This report will provide a context for policy and strategic directions for the future of ACT tertiary education including workforce development.
The Department has committed to reviewing the current high school and college arrangements with a view to renewal and reform in this area. Ensuring that our students have a suitable and accessible pathway through high school, college and into tertiary education or training is essential.
We will continue to complete renewal and refurbishment work under the Building the Education Revolution program, as well as completing the construction of the new Gungahlin College and P–10 school in Kambah. Our new schools are seeking a 5 star green energy rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.
In order to develop the next generation of teaching and learning online, we will deliver a new virtual learning environment. The Department has a strong commitment to ensuring that its students are provided with high-quality facilities to support learning.
It is evident that the Department has an ambitious work program over the next 12 months. However, the new directions we have put in place this year, supported by a strong and collaborative leadership, will ensure that the Department can continue to deliver high- quality services.