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A3 Highlights

Noteworthy operational achievements and progress against key outputs

The Strategic Plan 2010-2013: Everyone matters and the 2012-13 Priorities provided the key organisational directions in 2012-13. The four priority areas identified in the Strategic Plan were: Learning and Teaching; School Environment; Student Pathways and Transitions; and Leadership and Corporate Development.

Learning and Teaching

Strengthening curriculum practices

ACT Schools continued to lead the nation in implementing the australian curriculum.

Photo of students raising their hands to answer their teacher
  • In 2013, all ACT schools from kindergarten to year 10 implemented the Phase 1 Australian Curriculum learning areas: English, mathematics, science and history.
  • ACT schools implemented reporting student progress in the Phase 1 Australian curriculum learning areas using the national Achievement Standards from kindergarten to year 9 for the 2013 school year.
  • ACT teachers accessed the latest Education Services Australia interactive multimedia learning objects and digital curriculum resources to support the delivery of the Australian Curriculum.
  • The ACT continued to actively participate in Australian Curriculum Phase 2 (languages, geography and the arts) consultations with the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

Learning and Teaching

Raising standards in literacy and numeracy

Photo of primary students viewing a book

In 2012-13, the Directorate continued development of teaching and leadership capacity in public schools to deliver high quality literacy and numeracy programs.

  • pecialist literacy and numeracy field officers provided expert support in literacy and/or numeracy teaching and learning.
  • Literacy and numeracy coordinators were identified at each public primary, high and preschool to year 10 school. Literacy and numeracy coordinators provided specialist support to teachers to build on their knowledge and capacity to improve literacy and numeracy.
  • On 21 December 2012, the ACT Government signed the National Partnership Agreement on Improving Literacy and Numeracy to continue working towards improving student outcomes in literacy and numeracy.

Learning and Teaching

Closing the learning and achievement gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students

Photo of Wanniassa Junior School didgeridoo club

ACT schools continued to build connections and relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities, with a focus on school attendance.

Pictured: The Wanniassa Junior School boys didgeridoo club. Thirty boys from kindergarten to Year 6 were involved in learning the history and significance of the didgeridoo.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high achieving students were involved in the Student Aspirations Program. The Student Aspirations Program works with high achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to support them in reaching their potential through successful completion of secondary school and progression to further education, training and employment options.
  • Fifty Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students graduated in 2012 with a year 12 certificate, five more students than in 2011.
  • A Student Engagement Officer and a Family Support Worker were engaged to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to support disengaged students to re-engage them with school and their learning.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Officers in high schools worked to improve attendance and transition support and to strengthen relationships between schools and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Workers in primary schools continued to offer individual classroom support.
  • Twelve students were supported with scholarships to pursue teacher education studies.

Learning and Teaching

Improving teaching standards

Photo of ACT finalists in the 2012 Australian Awards for Outstanding Teaching and School Leadership

Improving teaching standards remained a strategic focus for the Directorate. A number of initiatives were implemented to enhance teaching quality in public schools.

Pictured: ACT finalists in the 2012 Australian Awards for Outstanding Teaching and School Leadership. Left to right: Gina Nugent, Nina McCabe, Karin Wetselaar, Robert Pastor, Colleen Matheson, Martin Hine, Director-General Diane Joseph and Hon Peter Garrett AM MP.

  • Executive Teacher (Professional Practice) positions were established in public schools to retain outstanding teachers in the classroom to coach and mentor other teachers.
  • An ACT Teacher Mentor program was developed which articulates into a Masters of Education program at both the University of Canberra and the Australian Catholic University. More than 300 teachers from across ACT schools were involved in the five day program during 2012.
  • Developing stronger partnerships among teachers, school leaders and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members, through initiatives such as reconciliation action plans, was a focus. The partnerships aim to design an integrated system for all learners.

School Environment

Building excellence in disability education

Photo of a primary aged student at Malkara School using iPads to assist her communication

Building excellence in disability education continued to be a priority, with the Directorate putting in place local initiatives to drive improvement, and being actively involved in national improvement initiatives.

  • The Directorate provided professional learning for Disability Education Coordinators in every school,supporting schools to develop the capacity to meet the needs of students with a disability and providing opportunities for ongoing networking and development.
  • The development and delivery of innovative projects and programs occurred in support of improving social and learning outcomes for students with disability.
  • In 2012-13 networking and workshopping sessions for families and carers related to disability education were held. The sessions included Moving to School and Positive Partnerships, both for families/carers as well as an information workshop for Special Needs Transport bus drivers and carers.
  • Internationally recognised online learning modules in speech,language, dyslexia and learning difficulties were introduced and implemented. Over 30 teachers were certified as tutors for these programs and approximately 400 teachers completed one or more programs to date.

School Environment

Improving school environments to support contemporary teaching and learning

Photo of early childhood students at the Franklin Early Childhood School

The new Franklin Early Childhood School (pictured) opened at the start of the 2013 school year.

  • Franklin Early Childhood and Neville Bonner Primary Schools opened for 2013 school year. The schools will provide for the education needs of more than 700 children in Gungahlin.
  • Construction of the Red Hill Primary School expansion, the Canberra College Performing Arts Centre and the Malkara School hydrotherapy pool were completed during 2012-13.
  • Significant progress was made in installing solar panel systems at public schools. Solar panel systems are an important step towards carbon neutral schools.
  • Gungahlin College won the Educational and Facilities Award in the new construction and overall project categories in 2012 of the Council of Educational Facility Planners International Australasian region.

School Environment

Engaging students

Photo of media students of the Gungahlin College preparing their media assignment

Excellent and engaging ACT public schools for all students is a Directorate priority.

  • The Directorate commenced development of the Engaging Schools Framework. The Framework's focus is on four key areas of good practice – strengthening relationships; valuing, understanding and having high expectations of every student; enriching connections with communities; and building engaging school cultures.
  • The Minister's Student Congress was an initiative established by the Minister in August 2012 to seek advice on educational issues important to students. It provides an avenue for students to network and develop their leadership skills. At the 2012 Congress students discussed the importance of student voice and empowerment.
  • New Directorate initiatives in 2012-13 included Student Engagement Teams and Targeted Support Teams working with each school network in providing wrap-around multidisciplinary services for students.

Student Pathways and Transitions

Improving secondary education in ACT public schools

Photo of a Gungahlin College students writing on the board

In order to continue to progress the Directorate's focus on quality secondary education in ACT public schools, specific projects were progressed through school and network improvement priorities.

  • INSPIRE associates conducted research and delivered professional development programs for teachers across the system. The professional learning was grounded in contemporary practice and promoted innovation in learning and teaching.
  • Seventy-one high school students received statements of attainment for completing vocational and educational training programs at Canberra Institute of Technology. The first Structured Workplace Learning placement from The Woden School occurred.
  • The Directorate continued to operate a number of alternative programs. Alternative Programs provided a flexible option for students to remain engaged with education and training and achieve, or partially achieve a nationally recognised certificate qualification.

Student Pathways and Transitions

Supporting successful transitions for all students

Group photo of secondary students at the Asia Pacific Young Student Leaders Convention 2013

The Directorate continued strengthening the engagement of students and parents in transition planning processes.

Pictured: Students from Melba Copland Secondary School and Erindale College who participated in the Asia Pacific Young Student Leaders Convention 2013. The Convention included students from China, the United States, Canada, Indonesia and other Asia Pacific countries.

  • Pathways planning for young people aged 11 to 18 years of age was implemented, enabling young people to consider options for their future. A Transitions and Careers website was developed. This website enabled all young people to access their pathways plans at any time from a range of electronic devices.
  • There were over 3,000 work experience and nearly 1,000 structured workplace learning placements arranged, enabling students to develop workplace skills and knowledge.
  • The CareersXpo organised in partnership with Rotary Club of Canberra City was held in August 2012. Approximately 8,000 people attended. CareersXpo provided students, parents, teachers and career advisors with access to nearly 100 exhibitors from universities, training organisations, professional institutes and employers, including government departments. It included a seminar program and Try' a Trade exhibition.

Student Pathways and Transitions

Improving skills and workforce development

Photo of the 2012 ACT Training Excellence Awards winners

Continuous development of skills and workforce is critical for sustaining growth and productivity in the ACT. The Directorate implemented a range of initiatives to drive reform of the tertiary and training sectors.

Pictured: Recipients of the 2012 ACT Training Excellence Awards – Rhys Godfrey, Sarah Alderson and Daniel Helson

  • Registered training organisations were funded to provide vocational education and training to the ACT community under the Priorities Support Program. The Program assisted disadvantaged and marginalised people who found it difficult to access, or be successful in, vocational training ranging from statement of attainment to Certificate III levels.
  • The Directorate commenced work towards implementation of a national entitlement to a training place. Under the National Partnership Agreement on Skills Reform, the national training entitlement will be an entitlement to access a government subsidised training place to a minimum of a Certificate III qualification for all working age Australians without a Certificate III or higher qualification.
  • Partnerships were fostered with employers to improve the commencement, retention and completion of Australian Apprenticeships.

Leadership and Corporate Development

Strengthening leadership and system support

Photo of school leaders and teachers at the Gungahlin College

Strong leadership and system processes are pivotal in managing a high performing education system in the ACT. The Directorate enhanced the Leadership Framework and implemented improved data and human resource management systems.

  • The National Professional Standard for Principals was incorporated into the Directorate's Leadership Framework. The Standard sets out what principals are expected to know, understand and do to achieve excellence in their work.
  • The Directorate's leadership conference - Engaging Schools: ACT Public Schools Leadership Conference was held in May 2013. The Leadership Conference provided leaders in the Directorate with an opportunity to focus and reflect on the key elements essential to developing an engaging school. ACT school leaders used their conference experience to articulate action and direction at an individual, network and system level to ensure that engaging schools continue to be a hallmark of education in the ACT.
  • Throughout 2012-13 all schools were supported to select and develop the best staff for their individual setting, with less centralised selection of school staff occurring.
  • New models of resource allocations to schools were developed to improve transparency and enable greater decision making by schools.

Leadership and Corporate Development

Strengthening culture and values

Photo of the Director-General with other officials at the launch of the second Reconciliation Action Plan

Pictured from left to right: Director-General Diane Joseph, Leanne Wright, Michael Battenally and Irene Lind at the launch of the second Reconciliation Action Plan.

Promotion of positive culture and values lifts the workplace's productivity. Leadership teams at all levels modelled the ACT public service values.

  • The ACT Public Service Values and Signature Behaviours were incorporated in a strategic and planned manner to ensure consistency of message and action. The adoption and promotion of the values contribute to further strengthening workplace culture throughout the Directorate.
  • The second Reconciliation Action Plan was launched in December 2012 in partnership with Reconciliation Australia. The plan reflects the Directorate's ongoing commitment to productive relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Delivery of the leadership program Accepting the Challenge – Improving learning outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students continued. The aim of the program is for school leaders to learn, share and reflect on their role and responsibility for leadership in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education.
  • Respect, Equity and Diversity Framework and respectful workplaces training were delivered throughout 2012-13. The training supports a whole of Government initiative to promote respect, equity and diversity in the workplace.

Leadership and Corporate Development

Fostering productive partnerships with families and key stakeholders

Photo of visitors at the Step into Limelight Art Exhibition

Pictured: Step into Limelight Art Exhibition - a partnership with Australian National University School of Art. The 2013 exhibition displayed the work of more than 150 students from 26 different public school settings. It included work from preschool students right through to Year 12 in a variety of media. It showcased some pieces from the highly successful Artists in Schools program.

Productive relationships with families and key stakeholders ensure the Directorate delivers programs resulting in community benefit. We continued to strengthen community partnerships to support student learning and to encourage community input into public education and training.

  • Parent representation on key Directorate committees such as the Disability Education Reference Group was an important mechanism for ensuring that the Directorate remained in touch with family and community issues and needs.
  • Social media was effectively used to engage with stakeholders. Key events and announcements were communicated via Twitter and Facebook. As well as broadening the Directorate's communication base with stakeholders, they allowed for real time feedback from the community.
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Consultative Group were consulted in developing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy.

Major challenges

The Directorate successfully managed a number of challenges in delivering an ambitious program of educational reforms during 2012-13.

Emerging national reforms agenda

The Directorate values excellence in learning and teaching, in order to continually improve the learning experiences and outcomes of all children and young people. In 2012-13 the emerging national reform agenda was supported, with the National Education Reform Agreement signed by the ACT Government on 30 May 2013. The agreement seeks to introduce reforms that will see Australia as a high quality and high equity education system and placed in the top five countries by 2025 in terms of student performance in reading, numeracy and science. It delivers a total of $190 million funding over six years for ACT public and non-government schools. The funding will provide financial support to all ACT schools to ensure world best educational services are provided for all students, including focussed support to students from low socioeconomic and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

Sustaining smart schools

Information and communications technology (ICT) is crucial in delivering high quality learning. The Directorate received $10 million over four years from the 2013-14 Budget to meet the challenges of ICT upgrades and additional ICT infrastructure in public schools.

The Directorate undertook the following steps during 2012-13 to provide the latest ICT equipment in public schools for an enhanced learning environment for all learners:

Workforce sustainability

A highly developed and capable workforce is the backbone of any organisation, particularly for an education and training system for which inspirational teaching is a strategic focus. There were 4,185 teachers and school leaders employed by the Directorate as at the last payday in 2012-13, compared with 4,100 as at the last payday in 2011-12.

Implementation of the Executive Teacher (Professional Practice) positions and 15 hours of preschool education across all public schools with preschool units has demonstrated the Directorate's commitment to enhancing teaching standards and early childhood education for a stronger start to the educational journey of ACT children.