The Directorate's strategic priorities outlined in the 2017-18 Budget Statement guided the Directorate towards achieving our vision that every child and young person in the ACT will benefit from a high quality, accessible education system.
The 2017-18 Budget Statement reflected the five strategic goals of the Directorate's 2014-2017 Strategic Plan - Education Capital: Leading the Nation, focusing efforts on the following priorities:
- Quality learning;
- Inspirational teaching and leadership;
- High expectations, high performance;
- Connecting with families and the community; and
- Business innovation and improvement.
Under the direction of the 2017-18 Budget Statement, the 2017 Action Plan detailed specific initiatives and identified actions of work towards achieving the strategic priorities. The performance analysis outlines the Directorate's progress against the identified actions in six reform groups:
- System Performance;
- School Resourcing;
- School Infrastructure;
- Workforce Capability;
- Strategic Partnership; and
With the 2014-2017 Strategic Plan - Education Capital: Leading the Nation ending in December 2017, the Directorate has spent six months collaborating, consulting and developing the next Strategic Plan for 2018-2021 launched in July 2018. This will lead the Directorate to develop and deliver educational services to empower each young person in the ACT to learn for life.
Comprehensive School Improvement Reviews
People, Practice and Performance: A Framework for School Performance and Accountability, launched in April 2016, continues to provide direction for all schools to participate in a five-year cycle of school improvement planning aligned to their school strategic plan, culminating in a school review in the fifth year. School reviews were undertaken for the first time in ACT public schools in 2016.
Independent expert reviewers from the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) and experienced system Principals assessed 18 schools against the National School Improvement Tool (NSIT) in 2017. At the conclusion of the review each of the 18 schools received an individual school review report that included commendations, affirmations and recommendations to inform their 2018-2022 School Strategic Plan. ACER reviewers provided in-school support to ensure a sharp and narrow improvement agenda with increased focus on target setting and key improvement strategies.
The ACER review team synthesised the evidence gathered from the 18 schools reviewed and completed an ACT External System Review Report 2017 (the 2017 System Report). Areas of strength and opportunities for improvement from the 2017 System Report indicated that when compared nationally, the performance of ACT public schools is generally at a high standard.
Of the 36 ACT public schools reviewed in 2016 and 2017 the highest number of commendations and affirmations were in the domain “a culture that promotes learning”, providing evidence that this domain continues to be the area of strongest performance across the schools reviewed. The two domains identified as areas for improvement were “analysis and discussion of data” and “curriculum delivery”. Significant work is being undertaken coordinating teams across the Directorate to design and deliver differentiated services to schools within a model of evidence-driven school improvement.
K-10 Australian Curriculum and Early Years Learning Framework
The Australian Curriculum continues to be embedded in ACT public schools. Under the Strengthening Implementation of the Australian Curriculum initiative, the Directorate has provided a series of Australian Curriculum Workshops; Australian Curriculum Overview/Update, Unpacking Achievement Standards and Levels of Performance, Standards Based Planning and Assessment, and Australian Curriculum and Differentiation. More than 2,000 teachers have participated in Australian Curriculum professional learning to date.
The Strengthening Implementation of the Australian Curriculum initiative includes provision for a dedicated team of Australian Curriculum experts who work directly with school leaders and teachers to support the delivery of the Australian Curriculum across all schools through the development of whole school curriculum plans aligned to the Australian Curriculum achievement standards.
The Directorate has also been working with schools to ensure they understand and consider the Cross Curriculum Priorities; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultures and Histories, Sustainability, Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia along with the General Capabilities as part of their planning in implementing the Australian Curriculum.
In particular, the Directorate has been working to map the Understanding the Land through the Eyes of the Ngunnawal People, “Mununja” the butterfly, Ngunnawal Plant Use, and Footprints on Our Land. These resources will provide support for teachers to introduce local content knowledge in delivering the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultures and Histories Priority across the curriculum.
During 2018, the Directorate developed a suite of English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) Assessment resources for schools based on the Australian Curriculum EAL/D Learning Progression. The purpose of these tools is to improve outcomes for EAL/D students through consistent system-wide formative assessment and tracking of English language proficiency. The Guides to Practice, a component of the suite, provide a range of suggested strategies to progress students through the phases of the EAL/D Learning Progression. A series of professional learning events supported schools to understand the components within the suite and provided guidance for implementation.
All ACT public schools use Belonging, Being, and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF) to inform planning for quality teaching and learning in preschool. The EYLF emphasises essential elements of high-quality early childhood practice, including play-based pedagogies, strong relationships with children and families, and intentional teaching to extend and enrich children’s learning. Preschool educators use the five learning outcomes identified in the EYLF to assess and report on student progress. In 2017-18, the Directorate continued to provide tailored professional development schools requiring additional support to embed the Early Years Learning Framework.
The Directorate’s approach in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education is aligned to the National STEM School Education Strategy (the Strategy), which aims to sharpen the focus on the key areas where action will deliver improvements in STEM education. The Strategy outlines five areas for national action, which includes increasing teacher capacity and STEM teaching quality.
To address these areas, and to further strengthen our response to a national focus on improved literacy and numeracy outcomes the Directorate facilitated accredited professional learning aligned to the EYLF and system priorities. The Directorate partnered with the University of Canberra to deliver STEM Learning and the EYLF, and The Smith Family to deliver Let’s Count. Let’s Count is an early childhood numeracy program that focuses on engaging parents in children’s numeracy learning. Additionally, early childhood educators were supported to collaborate with one another to design and implement STEM focussed action learning projects, linked to the EYLF, to improve their teaching practice.
In 2018, the Directorate commenced the School Improvement: Writing (Secondary) project. During semester one, 87 secondary leaders and teachers across seven schools participated in evidence-informed professional learning workshops to support effective teaching of writing for students in years 7 to 10. Additionally, these schools were supported to design and implement action learning initiatives to embed learning from the project.
Early Childhood Strategy
In the ACT, government and non-government providers deliver a variety of early childhood education and care services for children from birth to 12 years of age. These services include those approved under the National Quality Framework (NQF), those licensed under the Children and Young People Act 2008, programs delivered by the Education Directorate, and additional informal programs delivered by community organisations, such as playgroups.
The ACT Government is developing a strategy to create a joined-up policy context for supporting equitable access to early childhood education and care in the ACT, and a seamless user experience for children and families when they access early childhood services.
The Early Childhood Strategy (the Strategy) will look to coordinate approaches across government, and in partnership with non-government organisations, to deliver an aligned education and care framework which maximises the learning and wellbeing benefits to children from government investment into early childhood services in the ACT.
A key element of the Strategy is improving collaboration between the ACT Human Services Directorates in areas like use of common data and evidence base, use of existing resources, and testing cross-portfolio impacts of policy proposals. It is also a component of the ACT Human Services Cluster work over the next three years.
The Minister released an Early Childhood Strategy Discussion Paper in November 2017, emphasising the importance of children participating in early childhood education and providing access to education and care services for children experiencing vulnerabilities or disadvantage. The paper identified the four key elements of the strategy:
- improving access, equity and affordability;
- enhancing workforce and qualifications;
- transitions from education and care to school; and
- maximising the benefit to children from money spent.
On 1 February 2018, the Lifting Our Game report commissioned by all states and territories was released. (https://www.education.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/1159357/Lifting-Our-Game-Final-Report.pdf) The report aligns closely with the ACT Government’s vision for quality early childhood education and the key elements of the strategy. The focus of Lifting Our Game is on how Australia is performing in early childhood education.
Lifting Our Game emphasises the benefits of universal access to early childhood education and care and the importance of the NQF. However, gaps are evident in quality and opportunities for all children to participate in quality early childhood education and care irrespective of location, background or socio-economic status. The evidence applied in Lifting Our Game is fundamentally the same evidence being considered in developing the ACT Early Childhood Strategy.
In June 2018, the ACT Government announced in its 2018–19 Budget an investment of $6.727 million to develop the strategy to promote accessibility and quality in the ACT’s early childhood education and care sector.
Aboriginal Project Officers Adam Shipp visits Farrer Primary School
Through our Bush Tucker in Schools program, preschool age children in Canberra learn about Aboriginal culture and heritage through being out on country and bush tucker classes. Aboriginal project officers visit schools around Canberra to speak to young students about the importance of local bush tucker plants and to assist them to plant their own garden at their school. A range of traditional bush tucker plants for the native garden are supplied by our local Greening Australia nursery.
Early Childhood Advisory Council
In August 2017 the Early Childhood Advisory Council (the Council) was established to bring together representatives of the education and care sector to strengthen partnerships between the ACT Government and the sector.
The establishment of the Council presents an opportunity to create dynamic and strong partnerships within the sector, with the aim of increasing access to quality early childhood education and care for every child in the ACT.
Members were selected not solely as representatives of their organisations but based on their individual skills and expertise. A significant level of consultation has taken place with the Council in 2017-18 with seven face-to-face meetings being held across Canberra.
The table below lists the members of the Council.
Area of Representation
Ms Cathy Hudson (Chair)
Policy Advisor and Deputy Chair ACECQA Board
Ms Natalie Howson (Deputy Chair)
Director-General, ACT Education
Mr Simon Bennett
Not for profit and early childhood
Ms Jodie Ledbrook
Community not for profit
Ms Bernadette Carbin
Community not for profit
Ms Alice Castrission
Mr Peter Curtis
Australian Education Union – ACT Branch
Ms Joanne Garrisson
Association of Independent Schools ACT
Independent Schools Association
Ms Sandy Leitch
Early Childhood Australia
Ms Lee Maiden
Community not for profit and Family Day Care
Mr Bruce Papps
Northside Community Service
Community not for profit
Ms Reesha Stefek
Woden Early Childhood Centre
Independent not for profit
Ms Lisa Syrette
AIS Site Services Branch
Independent not for profit
Ms Symmone Turner
Preschool Teachers Professional Association
The initial work of the Council has been to report back to the Minister on proposals that arise from the development of the four key elements of the strategy:
- increasing access, equity and affordability;
- enhancing workforce and qualifications;
- ensuring seamless transitions from education and care to school; and
- maximising the benefit to children from money spent.
The Council is also supporting the work of the Future of Education community conversation, and this work will continue in the next year.
Use of Data to Inform School Performance
The ACT Government's Future of Education Strategy sets the objective for the Directorate of ensuring students succeed through the delivery of high-quality learning that engages students and supports the development of learning for life.
The progress of students towards this objective is measured through a range of student data that can be used to inform and support the work of teachers in schools, as well as to provide broader system level data. Much of this information is also provided to families to help them understand the progress of their children and young people.
The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), is just one measure by which the progress of students in reading and numeracy can be demonstrated, and is supplemented in schools by teacher assessments in the classroom. Together, these measures are intended to provide a broader picture of the whole child and their experience of school.
Due to a generally high socio-economic demographic, the ACT has historically been a national leader in school education, as measured by NAPLAN. As gains in the ACT have become harder to achieve, our performance growth in some measures has levelled out and improvements in other Australian school systems have brought them in line with or ahead of the ACT.
This levelling out of performance should also be considered against the national and international context, where assessments of student achievement across Australia over the past 10 years have shown little improvement, and in some areas, achievements have declined, despite an overall increase in per student expenditure. ACT data reflects the national trend.
Broadening the focus of performance in schools requires new and revised indicators to more accurately reflect what matters most to students and their families. To achieve this, the Directorate will introduce, for the next reporting period, indicators that focus on the gain in student learning by supplementing existing reporting on NAPLAN mean scores with measures of student learning gain through comparing student progress between Years 3 and 5; and Years 7 and 9.
To support the strategic objective of an equitable education system, which might be described as student achievement that is blind to the background and family circumstances of children and young people, new measures that can demonstrate change over time in equity within the education system will also be introduced for the next reporting period.
Finally, the culture of a school and the student experience while they are at school has a quite understandable impact on their lives as students, as well as their learning outcomes. To better understand this impact, the Directorate is introducing measures that will show the strength of student identity with the school, or their sense of ‘belonging’.
The performance of year 5 public school students between 2013 to 2017 in reading is shown by the mean achievement score in NAPLAN. Figure B2.1 shows that the 2017 mean achievement score for year 5 students in reading reached the target and was higher than the national mean. ACT year 5 results have remained relatively stable since 2013. A number of other jurisdictions, such as Western Australia and Queensland have seen significant improvement in recent years and, therefore, the ACT is no longer as far in front as in previous years.
Figure B2.1: Mean achievement score of all Year 5 public school students in reading in NAPLAN, 2013 to 2017
Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy 2013 to 2017
Year 5 numeracy results have consistently been above the national mean since 2008, but ACT year 5 results have reached a plateau between 2013 and 2017. The ACT mean achievement score was slightly below target for 2016 and 2017 (Figure B2.2).
Figure B2.2: Mean achievement score of all Year 5 public school students in numeracy in NAPLAN, 2013 to 2017
Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy 2013 to 2017
The performance of year 9 public school students in reading 2013 to 2017 has been consistently higher than the national mean (Figure B2.3). There has been no significant change in ACT year 9 reading results since NAPLAN testing began in 2008.
Figure B2.3: Mean achievement score of all Year 9 public school students in reading in NAPLAN, 2013 to 2017
Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy 2013 to 2017
The mean achievement scores of year 9 public school students in numeracy have been stable with no statistically significant change between 2013 and 2017 results. The ACT mean score was statistically the same as the target and the national results in 2017 (Figure B2.4).
More detailed information regarding NAPLAN can be found at www.nap.edu.au.
Figure B2.4: Mean achievement score of all Year 9 public school students in numeracy in NAPLAN, 2013 to 2017
The National Assessment Program – Civics and Citizenship (NAP-CC) measures student skills, knowledge and understanding of Australia’s system of government and civic life, and attitudes, values and participation in civic-related activities at school and in the community. The 2016 NAP-CC, the fifth in the triennial cycle of NAP-CC surveys, was administered to a random sample of whole-of-ACT students in year 6 and year 10 in 2016.
The performance of ACT year 6 and year 10 students in the 2016 NAP-CC was above the national means and has shown little variation across the five surveys within the triennial cycle beginning in 2004 (Figures B2.5 – B2.6).
Figure B2.5: Mean achievement score ACT and Australian Year 6 students in NAP-CC 2004 to 2016
Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, National Assessment Program Civics and Citizenship years 6 and 10 Report 2016
Figure B2.6: Mean achievement score ACT and Australian Year 10 students in NAP-CC 2004 to 2016
Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, National Assessment Program Civics and Citizenship years 6 and 10 Report 2016
An indicator of success in public education is the retention of year 10 students in public schools to year 11 in public colleges. The percentage of year 10 students who proceed to public secondary college education reports the total number of year 10 students in public high schools, as at the August census, who enrolled in year 11 at public colleges as at the February census in the following year.
The percentage of year 10 students who proceeded to public secondary college education has consistently exceeded the target over the last five years (Figure B2.7).
Figure B2.7: Percentage of Year 10 students who proceed to public secondary college education, 2013-14 to 2017-18
Source: ACT Education Directorate
Year 12 Certification and Outcomes
The year 12 certification indicator is the number of students who meet the requirements of an ACT Senior Secondary Certificate, expressed as a percentage of year 12 enrolments. Estimates are calculated based on the number of students completing the requirements of the ACT Senior Secondary Certificate divided by the number of students enrolled in a year 12 program as at the ACT School Census in February each year.
The ACT public school certification rate for year 12 has remained stable over the last five years and in 2017 was just below the target of 89 percent (Figure B2.8).
Figure B2.8: Percentage of Year 12 public school students who received an ACT Senior Secondary Certificate, 2013 to 2017
Source: ACT Education Directorate
The percentage of year 12 students receiving a nationally recognised vocational qualification is the number of year 12 students who completed year 12 and achieved a vocational qualification, or equivalent, divided by the total number of students enrolled in year 12 at the February census of a given year. A nationally recognised vocational qualification (Certificate or Statement of Attainment) is awarded to a student who has achieved one or more units of competence in a nationally endorsed Training Package or Course, under the Australian Qualification Training Framework.
The reduction in numbers of ACT students receiving a nationally recognised vocational qualification in 2017 was due to a decline in the number of students enrolled in vocational education and training (VET) courses (Figure B2.9). This is consistent with national trends for vocational education and training (VET) in Schools, which showed decrease in student numbers in 2017. This decline may be a reflection of student choice. Students may choose courses leading to a Tertiary Entrance Statement and/or a vocationally recognised qualification. The indicator is more strongly influenced by student enrolment choices than most anticipated outcomes expressed as targets.
Figure B2.9: Percentage of Year 12 public school students who received a nationally recognised vocational qualification, 2013 to 2017
Source: ACT Education Directorate
The percentage of year 12 students receiving a Tertiary Entrance Statement is the number of year 12 students who completed year 12 and achieved a Tertiary Entrance Statement, divided by the total number of students enrolled in year 12 at the February census of a given year. The percentage of all ACT students receiving a Tertiary Entrance Statement has remained relatively stable over the last five years and was just below the target in 2017 (Figure B2.10).
Figure B2.10: Percentage of Year 12 public school students who received a Tertiary Entrance Statement, 2013 to 2017
Source: ACT Education Directorate
ACT destination data are based on a survey of graduates who successfully complete an ACT Senior Secondary Certificate. Graduates from the previous year are surveyed in May of the reference year. The survey frame is drawn from the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies (BSSS) administrative records.
The percentage of ACT public school year 12 graduates engaged in study or employment six months after completing year 12 has been stable at around 90 percent over the last five years (Figure B2.11).
The Directorate continues to develop and implement pathway support programs and provide high quality teaching and learning facilities and opportunities to build a foundation for student success in employment and/or study after leaving school.
Figure B2.11: Percentage of ACT public school Year 12 graduates studying or employed six months after completing Year 12, 2013 to 2017
Source: ACT Education Directorate
The student attendance rate is the number of actual full-time equivalent student-days attended by full-time students in years 1 to 10, as a percentage of the total number of possible student-days over the period.
A data quality statement on this measure can be obtained from the Report on Government Services page of the Australian Productivity Commission website at: http://www.pc.gov.au/research/ongoing/report-on-government-services
The attendance rate of students in ACT public schools has achieved the target rate of 91.5 percent over the last five years (Figure B2.12).
Figure B2.12: Attendance rate of public school students Years 1 to 10, 2013 to 2017
Source: ACT Education Directorate
The real retention rate for preschool to kindergarten, year 6 to year 7 and year 7 to year 12 represents the number of children continuing in ACT public education (at the February school census of a given year) as a proportion of the number of children enrolled in the prior year level (at the August school census).
The proportions of students continuing in ACT public education from preschool to kindergarten, year 6 to year 7 and year 7 to year 12 have increased between 2014 and 2018 (Figure B2.13). Real retention is affected by a number of factors including but not limited to:
- migration out of the ACT;
- inter-sector (affiliation) transfer;
- children of diplomats and short-term international exchange students returning to their place of origin; and
- students progressing at a faster or slower than expected rate of one grade a year.
Figure B2.13: Real retention rates in public schools from preschool to kindergarten, Year 6 to Year 7 and Year 7 to Year 12, 2014 to 2018
Source: ACT Education Directorate
Proportion of student enrolments by schooling sector
The proportion of school enrolments by school sector includes all students enrolled from preschool to year 12 in all ACT schools, including specialist schools, at the February census of a given year.
ACT public schools continued to enrol the majority of students. ACT public school enrolments as a proportion of overall ACT enrolments have shown a small but steady increase from 2014 to 2018 (Figure B2.14).
Figure B2.14: Proportion of student enrolments (P-12) between 2014 to 2018
Source: ACT Education Directorate
The number of preschool enrolments in ACT public schools in the August census of a given year includes students who were attending a preschool program at a specialist school and/or as early entry students.
Preschool enrolments in ACT public schools increased from 2013 to 2014, but have reduced slightly from 2014 to 2017 as non-government schools increase their capacity to provide early childhood education services. Preschool enrolments in public schools slightly increased from 2016 to 2017 (Figure B2.15).
Figure B2.15: Number of enrolments in preschool in public schools, 2013 to 2017
Source: ACT Education Directorate, Census of ACT schools, August 2013 to 2017
Cross-Border Enrolments In ACT Public Schools
The number of cross-border enrolments in ACT public schools has remained relatively consistent between 1,800 and 1,650 over the last five years. However, due to rapidly rising public school enrolments within the ACT, cross-border enrolments have fallen as a proportion of all enrolments from 4.4 percent in 2013 to 3.5 percent in 2017.
The proportion of cross-border enrolments in ACT public primary schools (years P-6) fell to 1.9 percent in 2018, compared with approximately 2.5 percent of total enrolments in the previous five years. High school enrolments (years 7-10) of interstate students decreased from 6.2 percent to 5.2 percent of total enrolments between 2014 and 2018, while the proportion of interstate college enrolments has decreased from 9.1 percent in 2014 to 7.1 percent in 2018 (Figure B2.16).
An announced program by the NSW Government to build additional schools in the capital region, and the introduction from 2018 of structured ‘pathway’ schools in the ACT for cross-border enrolments may lead to further changes in the proportion of cross-border enrolments in ACT public schools.
Figure B2.16: Comparison of ACT and interstate enrolments in ACT public schools, 2014 to 2018
Source: ACT Education Directorate, Census of ACT schools, February 2014 to 2018
For further information contact:
Director, Planning and Analytics
(02) 6207 6197
Instrumental Music Program
The Instrumental Music Program (IMP) began in 1973 in four schools and continues to deliver high quality instrumental learning in across 54 schools with 90 primary school bands, six high school bands, two recorder schools and four ukulele schools. In 2017-18, there are 4 schools under Executive Teacher Professional Practice role and more than 3700 students engaging in the IMP.
The IMP also runs an out of school hours extension ensemble, with the top music students in ACT public schools who are selected annually by audition. Auditions are open to all ACT public school students.
There are four concert bands, one jazz band, one percussion ensemble, one flute ensemble and two choirs. In 2017, students completed 71 performances for school and community events in Canberra and interstate. The Senior Concert Band has an ongoing relationship with Ichijo High School in our sister city Nara, Japan and an exchange tour is planned for late 2018.
A number of high profile events are also lead by the IMP annually. These include:
- 32nd School Band Festival – 38 bands over four days;
- Singfest – with eight choirs;
- Step into the Limelight – the 11th Step into the Limelight “Inspire – the artist within” with more than 1600 students involved in the Gala Showcase and Art Exhibition; and
- Arts Up Front 2017 Conference – 140 participants at a day-long conference addressing the Australian Curriculum, arts learning for experienced arts educators and general classroom teachers. This Conference is supported by the Australian National University Schools of Music and Arts as well as drawing on presenters from schools, community arts organisations and national institutions.
School resourcing has been a significant policy focus in order to improve the educational outcomes and support of all students in ACT public schools. In 2017-18, the Directorate continued to implement the Student Resource Allocation (SRA) Program and Gonski Reform along with strengthening our ability to support individual student requirements.
Needs-Based School Funding - The Implementation of the ACT School Resource Allocation Model
The Student Resource Allocation (SRA) Program is a transformative initiative designed to achieve improved educational outcomes for all ACT public school students through better allocation of funds and use of resources.
The SRA funding model includes:
- Core Funding;
- Additional resources (loadings), based on student need:
- Students from Low Socio-Economic Status backgrounds;
- Students with English as an Additional Language or Dialect;
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students; and
- Students with Disability.
Phase 1 of the SRA funding model commenced at the beginning of the 2016 school year with each public school receiving a core funding amount plus a loading relating to low Socio-Economic Status (SES). Phase 2 included the review and implementation of a loading for students with English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D). The School Operational Allocation (previously known as School Based Management) was also re-designed. These two further resourcing elements were applied to each public school for 2017. The third and final stage includes the introduction of the loadings for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and developing the loading for Students with Disability. The design of the SRA is informed by perspectives of a range of stakeholders, including through a reference group of school leaders.
The development of a needs-based loading for Students with Disability continued in 2017-18 following extensive consultations and data analysis completed during the previous reporting period. Victoria University’s Centre for International Research on Education Systems continued to support the Directorate in this work during the reporting period. In late 2017, the Directorate hosted a public feedback forum for families, school staff, peak bodies, leading practitioners and students on key findings. This was presented by Mr Graeme Innes AM, former Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner.
Activity in the 2017-18 period included data analysis, a consultation phase, and the design of evidence informed options for a funding methodology and model. Further work on the redesign of the needs based loading for students with a disability will be a priority in 2018-19.
In 2018, the Directorate commenced implementation of the SRA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student support (cultural integrity) loading to meet the needs and aspirations of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students across the system. Developing cultural integrity across the Directorate is a key priority in achieving this intent and the Directorate developed a suite of resources to define cultural integrity and strengthen cultural practice within each school in support of that aim.
The Commonwealth Government and School Funding and Reform
Continuing negotiations with the Commonwealth Government about schooling reform will be underpinned by the Australian Government’s Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools: Through Growth to Achievement (Gonski 2.0), which was released on Monday 30 April 2018. Gonski 2.0 argued that Australian students should be challenged and supported to progress and excel in learning in every year of school, appropriate to each student’s starting point and capabilities. Furthermore, the report outlined that more school leavers will need skills such as problem solving, interactive and social skills and critical and creative thinking.
The Future of Education for the ACT has strong parallels with the recommendations from the Gonski 2.0 review and the ACT, along with all other jurisdictions, is continuing to develop a national funding agreement which reflects the reform directions.
The Future of Education for the ACT: positions the ACT well to respond comprehensively to the Gonski 2.0 review through our emphasis on personalised learning and teaching, equipping students to thrive in a rapidly changing world, ensuring student wellbeing is an important outcome at school and focusing on learning growth supported by formative assessment.
Early Identification of Students Requiring Support
Network Student Engagement Team
The Network Student Engagement Team (NSET) is a multidisciplinary group including:
- specialist teachers with training in positive behaviour support, disability and learning difficulties, hearing and vision support;
- support at preschool;
- senior psychologists; and
- allied health professionals including speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and social workers.
Schools refer to the Network Student Engagement Team (NSET) for advice, to build their capability and support individual students with a focus on improving educational outcomes for all students. NSET supported schools with a total of 1,359 referrals in 2017-18. Almost half of the referrals were for targeted support for individual students with just over a third for students in the early childhood age range, preschool to year 2. NSET also provided advice, support in building school capability and 59 Professional Learning opportunities including Positive Behaviour Support, Sensory Processing, Trauma Informed Practice and Communication.
Early Years Oral Language Intervention
NSET Speech Language Pathologists have developed and supported the Early Years Oral Language as an intervention for the Early Years Literacy program at Southern Cross Early Childhood School and Kingsford Smith School. This initiative aims to enhance the identification and supports for students with additional speech, language and communication needs, in particular Language Disorder, with the support of speech language pathology services.
Work has commenced to implement a whole school approach to enhance the early identification of students with Language Disorder and the provision of reasonable adjustments and supports for these students with a focus on early years. The model works to promote and further develop classrooms that support good communication for all students through improving teachers’ professional knowledge in promoting the oral language competence of students. In turn this aims to provide enhanced provision for those students at risk of language difficulties.
Support at Preschool
The Support at Preschool (SAP) team, part of NSET, has continued to build the capability of school leaders and preschool teams to provide inclusive preschool environments for all students. The SAP team plays an important role in assisting preschool teachers with the early identification of children with developmental concerns and understanding the appropriate referral pathways. This has included supporting preschools to connect and develop relationships with external providers, for example, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funded allied health providers.
Since the ACT’s transition to the NDIS, the SAP team has developed relationships with NDIS registered Early Intervention providers to identify children requiring adjustments in their education setting, prior to commencing preschool. This has ensured that the Directorate and the schools are aware of children's needs, before the commencement of the school year and can ensure appropriate adjustments and supports are in place for the child’s first day. In partnership with NDIS providers, SAP ensured support was in place for 78 children prior to the 2018 school year. Currently, the SAP team have referrals for 49 children in preparation for the 2019 school year.
Disability Education Support
For students who are eligible for Disability Education support, their needs are assessed in a Student Centred Appraisal of Need (SCAN) process across a range of areas including mobility, personal care and safety, social development and curriculum. Parents and carers are an important part of this process which is guided by a trained moderator and informs both resourcing to schools and the development of an Individual Learning Plan for each student.
During the reporting period, 574 Appraisals were conducted for newly identified students with disability. Reappraisals were conducted for a further 367 students to ensure currency of student support needs.
Individual Learning Plans
An Individual Learning Plan (ILP) outlines the learning goals and the required educational adjustments for students with disability. Each student who accesses a disability education program is required to have an ILP developed and reviewed annually.
The percentage of ILPs completed for students in specialist and mainstream schools who access disability education services represents the number of ILPs completed divided by the number of students accessing disability education programs. Data is obtained from a survey of schools conducted in term 2. ‘Completed’ means the ILP has been developed and is guiding classroom teachers in the delivery of the student’s educational program. ‘Disability education services’ are programs provided to students who meet ACT Student Disability criteria. Programs include: Specialist School, Inclusion Support Program, Learning Support Centre, Learning Support Unit, Learning Support Unit – Autism, and Hearing and Vision Itinerant Teams.
The percentage of ILPs completed has remained relatively stable between 2014 and 2018 (Figure B2.17).
Figure B2.17: Percentage of ACT public school students with Individual Learning Plans in specialist and mainstream schools who access disability education services, 2014 to 2018
Source: ACT Education Directorate
School Administration System
The ACT Government is investing $10 million over three years in the provision of a new School Administration System (SAS) that will streamline parent interaction with schools and provide improved and more efficient school administration. SAS will be progressively implemented across all ACT Public Schools throughout 2018 and 2019 and when fully implemented will ensure Canberra continues to be recognised as a leading digital city.
Implementation of this contemporary system will deliver outcomes to enable:
- An enhanced online enrolment process;
- A reduction in the number of paper forms between home and school with digital transactions including permissions, consent, payments and updating of student details;
- Improved access to data every day for schools to drive continued improvement in student learning;
- Online attendance marking and faster absence notifications to parents and guardians;
- Digital student academic reports and learning progression information; and
- Improved administrative efficiency for schools through automated workflows enabling staff to spend less time spent on administration and greater focus in the classroom.
The implementation in 2017-18 has provided foundational capability and enabled an enterprise approach to the reporting and management of student well-being and attendance of students.
This program builds on the successful digital services already available in ACT public schools including high speed internet and the implementation of Google Apps for Education and aims to enhance the partnerships between home and school.
Phase 3 of the SAS implementation will continue into 2018-19 with the introduction of academic reporting and assessment, finance, human resource management, asset management, and the parent communication portal.
Schools for the Future – More Schools, Better Schools
The Directorate has expended more than $80 million during 2017-18 to deliver many infrastructure and capital works improvements, including school expansion projects totalling more than $35 million. Infrastructure and capital works projects have included the:
- commencement of construction of the new Margaret Hendry School in the suburb of Taylor to be operational for the start of the 2019 school year for preschool to year 6 students;
- advancement of Stage 2 of the modernisation works at Belconnen High School including major refurbishments of student learning and teaching spaces and the creation of a new school administration and main entry area;
- commencement of early planning work for the new preschool to year 10 school in Denman Prospect in the Molonglo Valley;
- completion of expansion works at Amaroo School creating new learning spaces for an additional 300 students and an expanded gymnasium;
- completion of further expansion works for the start of the 2018 school year at Neville Bonner Primary School and Gold Creek School as part of the in Better Schools for Our Kids – Expanding Schools Gungahlin four year program;
- completion of the construction and the commencement of operation of the Caroline Chisholm School Centre for Innovation and Learning located on the senior campus;
- completion of the installation of five new transportable units and student amenities at Campbell Primary School and the demolition of an end of life building housing 10 classrooms for the commencement of the 2018 school year;
- commencement of the installation of 22 transportable units and student amenities at Narrabundah College;
- completion of the construction of a Year 11-12 building at the Woden School;
- upgrade of 21 schools to Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephone services;
- creation of withdrawal/sensory spaces at 12 schools;
- roof replacement/refurbishment at Mount Stromlo High School and Erindale College;
- cooling upgrades to one third of schools;
- a new car park at Palmerston Primary School;
- a new transportable classroom at Aranda Primary School;
- two new classrooms at Arawang Primary School;
- a new lift at Alfred Deakin High; and
- access improvements including new accessible toilets at 10 schools for start of the school year.
The Directorate is also continuing the development of the Sustainable Delivery of Public School Facilities suite of documents that inform the design of new and refurbished learning spaces in accordance with contemporary pedagogy.
Belconnen High School – Modernisation
Belconnen High School - school modernisation project
The modernisation project for Belconnen High is the first of its kind in the ACT. It is a multi-faceted project that aims to fundamentally change the way high school students are educated in the Territory. The projects focuses on the re-creation of a school that will focus on the skills our students will need to succeed in the 21st century. The way our schools have been both built and run in the past were designed to equipment students with the skills they needed to be successful in the “Industrial Age”, our students need a different set of skills.
The project has focussed on the skills or learning qualities we are aiming to develop in the future students of the school. Staff and students have been involved in their development, they are:
- Critical Thinking,
- Problem Solving,
- Communication, and
The project has also focussed on the learning environment (the design and physical infrastructure) and the pedagogy (the way teachers teach) that will enable our students to have the above skills of a 21st century learner. The new design of the school will provide teachers and students with the flexible and open learning spaces that are required to achieve this aim. The building component of the project is being completed in two stages to enable the continual operation of the school while construction occurs. Stage 1 has now been completed with staff and students now using these new spaces. These facilities include: Home Science, Digital Technology, Science and Learning Support. Stage 2, which predominately includes the learning areas, is due for completion at the start of the 2019 school year.
Better Schools for Our Kids – Technology Enabled Learning
In February 2018, more than 14,500 year 7 to year 11 students received a Chromebook following the ACT Government's $11.48 million commitment to provide all year 7 to year 11 students in public high schools and colleges with a tablet/notebook device.
This will follow with all new Year 7 cohorts and any other new students allocated a Chromebook in February 2019 and 2020.
The ACER Spin 11 Chromebook was selected after a competitive process, providing students with high quality technology and capabilities to enhance and support their learning.
Our schools support ICT use so that students can develop their capacity to analyse information, solve problems and communicate in an increasingly digital society. The use of Chromebook devices align with the objectives of the Australian Curriculum which requires students to understand how to operate effectively in a digital world.
Lanyon High School – Technology Enabled Learning
Lanyon High School students
Providing all students with a Chromebook has provided a sense of equity amongst students within our school community. They make it easier for teachers to support students with the technical use of these devices, as they only need to provide guidance about a single operating platform.
The rollout procedures were smooth and timely. Students and parents are positive about the devices being issued. Teachers can plan lessons that include digital technologies into all learning areas.
The Chromebook roll out has allowed us to better differentiate our teaching, students are able to access and show their evidence of learning easier and have embraced their new devices. The Chromebooks make it easier for teachers to provide an extra layer of support for students to access the curriculum through software such as “Google Read&Write”.
Students can more easily engage in online research in any subject and at any time. It also provides an easier way for students to submit learning for assessment and for teachers to provide timely feedback about their progress.
Transition to NAPLAN online
The ACT Education Directorate worked closely with all ACT schools and sectors in moving to NAPLAN Online in 2018, with schools and teachers investing valuable effort into ensuring the readiness of their schools. In May 2018, 106 of 116 (91%) ACT public, Catholic and independent schools that sit NAPLAN successfully participated in online testing; this included all eligible ACT public schools.
In 2018-19 and 2019-20 the Directorate will continue to work closely with the small number of schools in the ACT still working towards transition to online assessment. Across Australia, all schools are expected to transition to online assessment by 2020.
NAPLAN Online offers benefits for students and teachers including better assessment, more precise information, faster turnaround of results and a more engaging experience. In particular, the use of ‘tailored testing’ available through NAPLAN Online provides students with questions more suited to their level of achievement, hence making more information available to teachers and schools to inform learning programs.
To meet targets against sustainability measures, the Directorate implemented energy and water conservation measures across schools including:
- conducting energy audits at 11 schools to identify energy conservation measures for implementation in 2018-19;
- conducting audits of four hydrotherapy pools to identify opportunities to enhance pool energy efficiency and thermal comfort;
- upgrading and refinement of building heating, ventilation and cooling systems and components targeting improved operational efficiency at three sites;
- the upgrade of priority windows and doors to double glazed performance glass at North Ainslie Primary School, Southern Cross Early Childhood School and Wanniassa Hills Primary School;
- draught proofing at Alfred Deakin High School, Fadden Primary School, Harrison Primary School, Southern Cross Early Childhood School and University of Canberra High School Kaleen;
- holding capacity building workshops in each of the four school catchments to train building service officers in draught proofing techniques, 20 building service officers attended;
- installing a building control system at Calwell High School, to be complete in 2018-19;
- the upgrade of internal building lighting at Hedley Beare Centre for Teaching and Learning, to be completed in 2018-19, and;
- planting 90 advanced tree specimens tree across five schools in 2017-18 to provide passive shading to buildings and shaded outdoor areas to students at Alfred Deakin High School, Amaroo School, Arawang Primary School, Calwell High School and Miles Franklin Primary School.
To encourage active transport, the Directorate designed and commenced construction of end of trip and school bicycle storage facilities at Amaroo School, Melrose High School, The Woden School and Wanniassa School Junior Campus.
The Margaret Hendry School will be the first school to be built to the Sustainable Delivery of Public School Facilities technical output specifications P-6 (preschool – year 6). The specification guides performance outcomes and sustainability inclusions for all new primary schools. Sustainable Delivery of Public School Facilities technical output specifications for high schools and colleges will be developed in 2018-19. Further information on sustainability performance is provided in Section B9.
Improved Road Safety Around Schools
Parking and traffic safety around schools continues to be supported through collaboration between schools, Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS) and the Directorate. The school road safety plan includes new infrastructure, the roll out of the school traffic supervisor program, improved school crossings and traffic islands.
In February 2018, TCCS rolled out a School Crossing Supervisor program at 20 of the busiest schools crossings. This allows children to safely cross at school crossings identified as having a high volume of traffic.
Traffic and safety improvements included the expansion of the Active Streets program with the inclusion of wayfinding signage, new and upgraded footpaths, safer crossings and traffic calming devices. The program also included educational resources for families to promote active travel.
During 2017-18, the projects included:
- completing construction works to improve the car park at Palmerston District Primary School;
- undertaking design and consultation to improve parking at Wanniassa Hills Primary School; and
- working with schools and their communities to implement strategies that better support education and enforcement initiatives around the school.
Quality teachers and teaching by design
New Educator Support
The New Educator Support Plan (the Support Plan) was developed in late 2017 to strengthen the implementation of supports for beginning teachers outlined in the current ACTPS Education and Training Directorate (Teaching Staff) Enterprise Agreement 2014-2018 (the Agreement). These supports include reduction of face-to-face teaching hours in their first year of teaching to facilitate enhanced support and learning. In addition, 15 days of professional learning resource is provided for all beginning teachers in their first three years of teaching.
In January 2018 the Support Plan was launched as part of the revised Teacher Performance and Development Framework in order to facilitate planning for quality coaching and mentoring programs designed to meet the individual professional development needs of New Educators.
Aspiring Leaders Program
The Aspiring Leaders Program (the Program) aims to enhance the contemporary leadership knowledge, skills and attributes that contribute to student, school and system improvement. The key anticipated benefit to school leaders, and to the system as a whole, was an improvement in their capability for leading teaching and learning, ultimately resulting in improved student outcomes.
Cohort 2 was launched in May 2017, with 30 participants (school leader Bs, Cs and Classroom Teachers) and 23 mentors (school leader As and Bs) selected to take part in the Program.
This cohort had a strong emphasis on the use of research and evidence in school leaders’ professional practice, including the use of evidence in understanding student and teacher learning and how instructional leadership can create the conditions for this to occur. There was also an improved focus on:
- identifying the leadership strengths and needs of individuals, in order to provide a basis for targeted professional development;
- establishing productive and purposeful mentoring relationships between aspiring leaders and current leaders within the system identified as high performing; and
- providing a talent identification role in terms of both aspiring leaders, and high performing leaders within our system.
Cohort 2 concluded in March 2018. Of the 30 participants originally selected, 24 successfully completed the Aspiring Leaders Program in Cohort 2 (80% successful completion rate).
2018 Aspiring Leaders Program participants
Quality Teaching Workforce
The People and Performance Branch engages directly with universities and university students undertaking teaching degrees to actively showcase the work of the Directorate and encourage newly qualified teachers to choose ACT public schools as their first teaching experience. This includes partnering locally with the University of Canberra, and regionally with universities in NSW and QLD encouraging out of state teachers to teach in the ACT.
Schools continue to have the option to advertise vacancies through local site selection processes and registered teachers are able to join the teacher recruitment pool throughout the year. There are currently over 1,300 teachers available on the casual register interested in casual teaching that hold current registration. The Directorate works closely with TQI to ensure professional learning requirements for ongoing registration is met. More information about the Annual Professional Learning program is available in Section B8 - Human Resources Management.
The major implementation projects within the Agreement has an explicit focus on the continuing development of a highly capable teaching workforce, with reported critical outputs on the following projects in outlined in Section B8:
- sustainable reduction of teacher workload;
- alignment of Teacher Performance and Development processes with national standards;
- recognition and reward for Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers;
- school Leader C career development; and
- competitive teachers’ salary and conditions.
The most critical in-school factor influencing student outcomes is the quality of teaching. Teachers need in-depth knowledge of the subject areas they teach, how students learn that content and an understanding of classroom environments that optimise learning. They need access to ongoing, high quality professional learning opportunities to develop and enhance necessary skills and understandings.
Providing a systems approach to professional learning directly supports improved teaching practice in classrooms across all ACT public schools; increasing teacher capacity, confidence and capability through professional collaboration. Professional learning provides the nexus between the Directorate’s School Improvement Service Principles and quality teaching. The Directorate utilises the expertise of educational leaders within the Employment Support Office as well as through partnerships with industry, tertiary institutions, or external providers to deliver exceptional programs that involve elements of action research.
High quality evidence-based professional learning has been delivered in gifted and talented education, to ensure all students have access to powerful and relevant learning experiences. The workshops have included understanding gifted learners, programs for gifted learners and developing differentiated curriculum. In addition, workshops were presented, examining the results of the Action Research schools had undertaken to evaluate the impact of gifted programs.
In 2018, the Directorate commenced the School Improvement: Writing project for secondary schools. During semester one, 87 secondary leaders and teachers participated in evidence-informed professional learning workshops to support effective teaching of writing to students in years 7-10. Additionally, seven secondary schools were supported to design and implement action learning initiatives to embed learning from the project.
A series of professional learning events supported the implementation of the newly developed English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) Assessment Suite. The EAL/D Assessment Suite aligns with the Australian Curriculum EAL/D Learning Progression. Teachers can use the resources to assess students’ English language proficiency, track student progress over time, and identify research-based pedagogical practices to improve students’ outcomes. This supported evidence-informed practices for formative assessment and teaching practices.
The Directorate offered a range of professional learning to strengthen the capability of school leaders and teachers in numeracy learning and teaching. In 2018, the Directorate offered Principals as Numeracy Leaders (PANL) system-wide professional learning for school leaders, and Count Me In Too, Middle Years Mental Computation and mathematics by inquiry professional learning, presented by Emeritus Professor Peter Sullivan, for primary and secondary classroom teachers.
Centre for Innovation and Learning
The Centre for Innovation and Learning opened in term one 2018. The Centre supports educators to develop, and showcases, leading practice in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Students have opportunities to develop STEM knowledge, skills, capabilities and dispositions in a unique environment featuring contemporary spaces and technology.
During the semester, the Centre’s Pedagogical Leader supported 47 teachers, from across the Tuggeranong network to plan and co-deliver STEM education programs for students in preschool to year 10. The facility hosted a total of 2,484 primary school student visits and 3,570 high school student visits, and a range of STEM-related competitions and learning opportunities for students and teachers. The Centre also hosted 17 professional learning workshops for public school teachers during semester one, ranging from STEM education in the early years to implementing the Australian Curriculum in Digital Technologies.
A Ngunnawal name for the Centre will be selected through a community consultation process. An official naming ceremony will be planned with the United Ngunnawal Elders.
Recognition and Acknowledgement
The Public Education Awards recognise and celebrate outstanding achievements in public education in the ACT, covering nine award categories. In August 2017, the Directorate received 168 eligible nominations for the 2017 Public Education Awards, the largest number of nominations received since its inception. Out of the nominations, seven individuals and two groups were announced as winners recognising their contribution to the ACT public education system.
The 2017 award recipients were:
- Education Support Person of the Year: Luke Ferguson, The Woden School
- Volunteer of the Year: Playground Enhancement Team - Emily Walter, Daniel Trevino and Louise Woodruff, Macquarie Primary School
- New Educator of the Year: Emily Gregory, Turner School
- Early Childhood Teacher of the Year: Maree Blume, Namadgi School
- Primary Teacher of the Year: Vanessa Stephens, Mount Rogers Primary School
- Secondary Teacher of the Year: Jeff Hunt, Murrumbidgee Education and Training Centre
- Outstanding Partnership of the Year: Black Mountain School and YMCA
- Leadership in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education: Elinor Archer, Dickson College
- Outstanding School Leader of the Year: Helen Witcombe, Deputy Principal and Manager of Tuggeranong Sustainable Living Trades Training Centre.
Public Education Awards 2017 recipients with the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development and the Director-General Education Directorate
The following recipients were presented Recognition of Service awards at the event:
- Eric McCabe – Hawker Primary School
- Graeme Falls – Canberra High School
- Ian Johnson – Melrose High School
- Jennifer Hall – Macgregor Primary School
- Mark Ashdown – Gungahlin College
- Patricia Cregan – Gold Creek High School
- Rae Pottenger – Narrabundah College
Professional Learning To Encompass Inclusive Education, Evidence-Informed Practice, Community Engagement and Leadership At All Levels
Safe and Inclusive Schools Initiative
Since the launch in March 2018, the ACT Safe and Inclusive Schools (SAIS) initiative has provided professional learning programs at the whole school level and to the ACT public school psychology service. They also offered two general sessions to allow relief teaching staff and other school staff who may be on leave to access the training.
A public community feedback session on professional learning for International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia and Intersex Discrimination (IDAHOBIT), was attended by a small but diverse participant group including parents, teachers, senior secondary college students, and community organisation staff.
Support and advice on addressing school-specific issues is available to all schools, across the range of SAIS Initiative supports including:
- individual student needs and welfare;
- student awareness of inclusion and diversity;
- consultation on inclusive curriculum design; and
- planning/review with school leaders on inclusion strategies, and management of school staff and parent community information needs.
The SAIS website www.saisact.info was updated to include links to community and health support organisations and other useful online resources and information links. SAIS continues to work on a request as required basis to support teachers and school leaders to identify, adapt and use appropriate learning materials relevant to the Australian Curriculum, identified student learning needs, and the school community context.
In October of 2017 Professor Claxton built on his previous work with ACT Principals, developing strong links between the learning power approach and the general capabilities of the Australian Curriculum. His keynote address and School Leader Master Class workshop with secondary school principals focussed on teaching and learning approaches that lead to improved student outcomes.
Engaging Schools Summit 2017
In September 2017, Student Engagement presented an Engaging Schools Summit (the Summit) to educational leaders. Lee Watanabe-Crockett (international educational speaker and author), Professor John Fischetti (Head of Education, University of Newcastle) and Peter Morgan (experienced principal and educational consultant) delivered keynote presentations. Workshops were facilitated by the keynote speakers, ACT school representatives, NSET and Learning and Teaching.
A Community Services Expo was also set up for educational leaders to investigate community service collaborations in order to produce positive outcomes for students. The overarching theme was around future focused and innovative education. The Summit was well attended and the feedback obtained was very positive.
Positive Behaviour Learning
Each ACT public school operating under the Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) Framework has an internal coach to lead implementation of PBL in their schools. This internal coach is supported by four coaches from the Education Support Office who provide professional learning and ongoing support to the school implementation team, acting as coach and critical friend. To date, there are 40 PBL ACT public schools.
Everyone Everyday is a national award winning Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program that supports schools to create inclusive school environments. It consists of a comprehensive teaching resource and professional learning program.
The Directorate has worked in partnership with Catholic Education and the Association of Independent Schools ACT to develop a cross sectoral train-the-trainer model to deliver the Everyone Everyday program professional learning to teachers, school leaders and learning support assistants across the ACT education system.
The evaluation undertaken has included extremely positive feedback, with participants reporting the content of the program and resources were helpful for teaching practice and directly relevant to the classroom. Across 2017-18, Everyone Everyday was run 10 times with 109 Directorate staff attending, including 53 relief teachers.
Online Training (OLT) was founded in 2008 to provide flexible professional development for teachers and teaching assistants who support children and young people with individual educational needs. This year, 133 Directorate teachers completed the Online Learning Modules which are delivered through tutor-led sessions for discussions, presentations and sharing of resources as well as self-paced individual study over an 8 to 10 week period. The topics available include:
- Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders/ASD;
- Understanding Dyslexia and Significant Difficulties in Reading;
- Understanding and Supporting Behaviour;
- Understanding Motor Coordination Difficulties;
- Understanding Hearing Loss; and
- Inclusion of students with Speech, Language and Communication Needs.
Professional Learning - Google Summit
Professional learning provides staff the opportunity to encompass inclusive education, evidence-informed practice, community engagement and leadership at all levels.
To improve digital education capability the Directorate organised a two-day Google Summit at Gungahlin College in April 2018 available for all ACT teachers to attend. The program was certified by the TQI to provide contributions towards the teacher’s professional development. 216 teachers attended the event and the next summit is planned for April 2019. The Directorate also organises four days of half day workshops every week five of each Term to up-skill ACT public school teachers in specific aspects of the Google G-Suite. 268 staff attended these sessions in 2017-18.
Workforce Diversity and Support Networks
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Network
The Directorate supports the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Network (Staff Network). Membership is open to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees; including permanent, contract and casual staff. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pre-service teachers in the ACT are offered associate membership of the Staff Network to establish relationships and connections within the Directorate. The Staff Network meets quarterly with the Education Governance Committee (EGC) to provide feedback and advice regarding the cultural integrity journey being undertaken by the Directorate and systemic workforce issues.
Accessibility Advisory Group
The Accessibility Advisory Group (the Group) was established in 2017 as a consultative mechanism for employees with disability. The Group has met regularly to provide input into the development of the EDU Access and Inclusion Employment Action Plan. The Group also has a presence on the ACTPS Disability Allies Network, coordinated by the Inclusion Team, Workforce Capability and Governance Division, CMTEDD. Increased membership of the Accessibility Advisory Group will be encouraged, coinciding with the launch of the Access and Inclusion Employment Action Plan in 2018.
Access and Inclusion Employment Action Plan
An Employment Action Plan for people with a disability has been developed and will be launched in the second half of 2018. The draft Action Plan has 28 initiatives and a total of 46 actions relating to building inclusive workplaces where people with a disability are welcomed and their contributions valued.
The Directorate supports the employment of people who identify with a disability through multiple pathways. In 2017 the Directorate employed a total of eight employees who identified as having a disability. One through the graduate program and two through the whole of government Inclusion Vocational Employment Program. Five people were also employed in 2017 on work engaging with principals and directors led by a principal on secondment into the Education Support Office. The two trainees employed through the whole of government Inclusion Vocational Employment Program where nominated for an award at the 2017 Chief Ministers Inclusion Awards. One trainee was nominated as a joint winner in the Emerging Young Leader category.
In 2018 the Directorate employed four graduates who identified as having a disability, through the ACTPS Graduate Program.
EDU LGBTIQ Staff Network
In July 2017 the Office of LGBTIQ Affairs (the Office) was established by the ACT Government. The Office is leading the development of the ACT LGBTIQ Strategic Plan 2018-22, which will be accompanied by annual Action Plans to achieve the ACT Government’s vision for Canberra to be the most LGBTIQ inclusive city in Australia.
The Directorate supports the Office through the ACT Government’s vision by promoting Directorate employment attraction, retention and ongoing development action for LGBTIQ employees.
An information session to establish an Education Directorate LGBTIQ staff network was held 16 May 2018. Outcomes from the meeting included a commitment to continue the discussion regarding a network model that reflects the diversity, inclusivity and culture of the LGBTIQ community. It was also agreed that allies who want to make positive and real contributions are welcome in the network.
Scholarships for Teachers to Achieve Post-Graduate Qualifications
Teacher Scholarships Program
The Directorate's Teacher Scholarships Program provides teachers and school leaders with financial support (fee reimbursement) to undertake further study, training and/or research to build teacher capability leading to improved student outcomes.
In June 2018, the Teacher Scholarships Program selection committee met to consider 26 applications. Out of the applications 16 scholarships were awarded. Ten of the scholarships were for study in the priority areas of STEM and Complex Needs and Challenging Behaviours. Successful recipients will have 24 months (2018-20) to complete their scholarships.
In the 2017-18 financial year the Teacher Scholarships Program received and paid claims for reimbursement amounting to $138,400 to teachers and school leaders currently holding scholarships.
Coaching and Mentoring For Leaders and Aspiring Leaders
Strengthening Leadership Capability Strategy
Through 2017-18, the Directorate is developing a Leadership Capability(the Plan). The Plan will outline a multi-faceted approach to strengthening the leadership capabilities of all school leaders at the Principal, Deputy Principal and Executive Teacher level and is based on a strengths-based model with Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), coaching and mentoring at the centre. The goal of the Plan is to strengthen the capability of school leaders at all levels to have the maximum impact on teaching and learning.
The Plan echoes the Australian Institute of Teacher and School Leadership (AITSL) statement on what is required for vibrant learning cultures in schools and the whole system to thrive, “…there must be diverse forms of support: learning communities, practitioner-based research, experiential events, reflection, courses, lectures, peer feedback, shadowing including coaching and mentoring and action.” The services delivered in this Plan reflect these diverse forms of support. Underpinning these diverse forms of leadership capability support will be:
- an evidence-informed approach; and
- a move to a system approach to PLCs.
The Plan will align with the Future of Education Strategy, the Directorate’s Strategic plan, the AITSL Principal Standard and the Education Directorate’s draft Principal’s Assessment Framework. This Plan will also address the ACT Government’s 2015-16 ongoing election commitment, parliamentary agreement regarding mentoring and pedagogical leaders.
Work With the Education and Care Sector to Professionalise the Workforce
Education and Care Workforce
On 1 February 2018 the Productivity Commission released its Report on Government Services (RoGS) chapter that covers childcare, education and training.
The RoGS report shows that the ACT had 61.7 percent of primary contact staff in early education and care services with a relevant formal qualification at, or above, certificate III. While this figure is the lowest in the country it shows an 11.2 percent improvement for the ACT since the 2013 Early Childhood Education and Care National Workforce Census (the Census) for certificate III graduates (https://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/2016_ecec_nwc_national_report_sep_2017_0.pdf).
The census shows 34.4 percent of educators nationally, in a Child Care Benefit (CCB) approved service, are studying towards a qualification.
As of 22 January 2018, there were 78 government preschools and 20 non-government preschools. In the ACT, approximately 90 percent of preschool program educators have a university qualification, which places the ACT in the top two jurisdictions in the country.
Since the introduction of the NQF in 2012, the ACT Government has supported the growth of qualified staff for the education and care sector. Scholarship grants are offered through an Early Childhood Degree program. In 2017-18 there were 49 scholarship holders studying towards a degree in early childhood education.
Building Early Childhood Capacity in Schools and Reducing Red Tape
In the ACT, Government preschools are regulated under the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010, as is the case in the majority of jurisdictions. Government preschools are also regulated under the Education Act 2004. The Preschool Project – Growing Preschool Expertise commenced in June 2017 as a pilot program which aims to grow the knowledge and expertise within government preschools about the NQF, particularly the assessment and rating process.
Four early childhood educators from ACT public schools were seconded to the project to work within the ACT Regulatory Authority and build their knowledge of the assessment and rating process under the NQF. The program included Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) Authorised Officer and Assessor training, further training and mentoring from Team Leaders, assisting experienced Authorised Officers with assessment and rating tasks, and conducting full assessment and ratings and compliance audits in all service types.
These officers will return to ACT public schools equipped with the knowledge and ability to better support their schools, colleagues and the school network.
Further information relating to Workforce Capability is included in section B8 – Human Resources Management.
Facilitate a Community Conversation to Inform Government’s Strategy for the Future of Education
In February 2017, the ACT Government committed to having a ‘big conversation’ across the community to work towards the development of a 10-year strategy for the future of education in the ACT. This commitment included engaging a broad range of people in the conversation and to hearing the voice of students.
In the 2017-18 financial year, a diverse range of engagement and consultation activities were undertaken with nearly 5,000 people contributing to the conversation, 2,200 of whom were students. All input into the conversation was recorded and analysed.
Areas of interest that emerged for the community comprised of creating schools where young people love to learn including learning around their interests and passions, schools which have high expectations of every student, and schools that have a curriculum that emphasises future focused capabilities such as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, resilience and citizenship.
Another key issue for the community was to increase the focus on wellbeing, seeing it as a necessary part of or condition for good learning outcomes. Feedback spoke of the need to ensure good wellbeing supports are available across the jurisdiction, that students have a sense of belonging in their school communities and that schools are a place where effort and growth is valued as much as a grade.
The release of the Future of Education Themes document in August 2017 made visible this community input and key issues and provided clearer focus for more targeted consultation.
A series of targeted workshops were held in March 2018 to test the themes and help refine and shape the strategy. This resulted in four broad focus areas emerging that will provide the foundations for the strategy. These foundations included:
- which focuses on practices that prioritise and support the engagement of every student in their learning and their learning environments;
- Empowering teachers which focusses on supporting teachers to meet the range of diverse student need and to continually build their own practice expertise;
- Creating communities of learning which recognises that schools need to be collaborative communities where, in tandem with government services, community agencies and the broader community, schools work together to meet the diverse needs of students and their families; and
- Systems of support which will focus on equity and quality by ensuring schools are networked, offer smooth transitions, provide effective welfare-based supports and good access to the data needed to ensure and monitor every child’s growth year on year.
Feedback also highlighted the importance of high-quality early childhood education and care as essential to later life learning outcomes. An ACT Early Childhood Education Strategy, also under development, will sit alongside the Future of Education Strategy.
Student contributions to the Future of Education
The number of people/organisations who participated in the consultation included:
Phase one: Individual and group submissions: May - December 2017
Approximate number of people1
Students and young people
Parents, families and carers
Early childhood education and care
ACT government staff
- All people numbers are approximate as some submissions did not provide exact figures.
- Submissions did not identify whether they came from a particular group.
Phase two: Workshops - March 2018
No of People
Education Support Office-based staff
Parents, families and carers
Schools and School-based staff
School Board Chairs
Phase two: Workforce Survey - April 2018
No of People
The ACT Future of Education Strategy was released in August 2018. Further consultation will take place to develop an implementation plan in partnership with school sectors and the broader community.
Strengthen the Relationship with Community Services Directorate with an Emphasis on the Respectful Relationships Programs
The Directorate has an ongoing positive and collaborative relationship with the Community Services Directorate (CSD) and recognises that effective collaboration with the broader human services sector is critical to ensuring in students with complex needs and challenging behaviours, and their families, are well supported. In 2017-18 the Directorate collaborated with CSD in a number of ways, including supporting the ongoing role of Child and Youth Protection Services (CYPS) Liaison initially employed in February 2017. The role fosters connections between the Directorate and children in the care and protection system and assists with enquiries from schools, CSD or ACT Together about child protection and education matters.
As part of progressing respectful relationships work, the Directorate has also continued to strengthen its relationship with the Office of the Coordinator General for Family Safety. Directorate staff attended a workshop involving Our Watch in March 2018 which provided a briefing across ACT Government and the community sector. Our Watch delivered a session specifically on Respectful Relationships education which has helped to inform the Directorate’s approach in this area.
The Directorate is committed to making schools a place where staff and students promote respectful relationships and gender equality and do not accept gender-based discrimination. Respectful Relationships education curriculum has further developed in recent years, with the link between this area and primary prevention of gender-based violence becoming more widely understood.
Schools work in a range of ways to assist students to build the skills, values and attitudes required to develop and maintain positive, healthy and respectful relationships. Schools identify curriculum and training from a range of endorsed sources that meets the needs of their community as detailed on the Directorate website Respectful Relationships education page: https://www.education.act.gov.au/teaching_and_learning/respectful-relationships-education.
Implement Supporting Parents Plan
Early Childhood Strategy
The Directorate is progressing the development of a comprehensive early childhood strategy to continue to drive quality and accessibility of the ACT early childhood education and care sector. The Early Childhood Strategy will provide the means for delivering the Supporting Parents Plan. In 2017‑18, scoping of the Early Childhood Strategy project commenced with specific consideration of connections with the Future of Education and the Human Services Cluster initiatives. Consultation with the sector and the Early Childhood Advisory Council is ongoing throughout the development of the strategy.
The Out of School Hours Care trial for preschool children will be the first step in evaluating the capability of co-located wrap-around service delivery for preschool children at ACT public schools. The specifics of the trial are being considered as part of the development of an Early Childhood Strategy.
Safe and Supportive Schools
The Directorate’s Safe and Supportive Schools Policy provides guidance to schools on promoting safe, respectful and supportive school environments. Schools are required to have processes and procedures in place to address and prevent bullying, harassment and violence, including cyberbullying. Schools’ preventative focus includes social and emotional learning approaches and digital citizenship programs that support the development of resilience, critical thinking and social skills.
The Directorate recognises the lasting impact bullying can have on everyone involved, including those who witness it; and the importance of schools, young people and families working together to create safe school communities for everyone. The Directorate’s ongoing commitment to countering bullying and violence is evident through a range of initiatives.
The Directorate is a member of the Safe and Supportive Schools Community (SSSC), a working group of representatives from all states and territories. The Directorate participated in the SSSC Annual Planning Meeting in Brisbane in June, which provided an opportunity to discuss and collaborate with other jurisdictions on contemporary student wellbeing issues and hear about recent updates relating to research and evidence-based resources. The SSSC manages the the Bullying. No Way! website and promotes the National Day of Action (NDA) against Bullying and Violence.
The NDA is a positive day of action, bringing school communities together to actively discuss and think about preventing and addressing bullying and violence. In 2018, the NDA was on March 16 with 56 ACT public schools registering their participation in this day, including 37 primary schools, 17 high schools and 2 colleges. ACT public schools access a range of resources and materials from the Bullying. No Way! website for the NDA and also to address bullying through the curriculum throughout the year.
From May, schools’ capacity to document data about incidents involving bullying and harassment, monitor numbers, reflect and act on emerging trends has been strengthened through the implementation of a specific module in the Schools’ Student Administration system (SAS). Further information for the community is available on the Directorate’s website: www.education.act.gov.au/teaching_and_learning/learn-anywhere-ict-for-students/keeping-safe-online
In the Australian Curriculum, students develop ICT capability as they learn to use ICT effectively and appropriately to access, create and communicate information and ideas, solve problems and work collaboratively. Students develop knowledge, skills and dispositions around ICT and its use, and the ability to transfer these across environments and applications. They learn to use ICT with confidence, care and consideration, understanding its possibilities, limitations and impact on individuals, groups and communities.
Our SchoolsNET ICT network provides students with reliable access, which is safe and secure. This includes filtered internet on any device connected to our network, whether it be a school computer or a student's personal electronic device (PED) connected to our WiFi.
The Directorate partners with the Office of the Commonwealth Children’s e-Safety Commissioner to provide a variety of best practice online information, interactive games and webinars available for teachers, students (all ages) and parents. This includes online Virtual Classroom webinars, which the Directorate has been running since October 2014. A total of 11,311 students have participated to date.
Continuum of Education for High Schools
All ACT high schools are implementing the Continuum of Educational Support (CES) model, a holistic and evidence-based framework for best practice approaches to the learning engagement of high school students, and a coherent strategy for the provision of flexible learning options and alternative education programs. The Education Support Office is supporting schools to implement the CES model that allows for flexible responses to meet the diversity of need within each school community.
The Directorate has also worked collaboratively with students and key government and non-government stakeholders to design a new, innovative and community-based Off Campus Flexible Learning Program that provides a pathway for students with complex needs who, at a particular point in time, cannot successfully access education in a mainstream school setting.
Implementing School Uniforms
The Dress Standard and Uniforms in Canberra Public Schools policy was launched in 2016 with implementation achieved at the end of 2017, requiring all ACT public schools to create and implement their own uniform and dress standards in partnership with their school communities. School uniforms benefit students by:
- assisting students to learn the importance of appropriate presentation;
- promoting the safety of students through easier identification;
- keeping costs of clothing within reasonable limits for parents; and
- promoting a sense of school identity and belong among students.
The Directorate is continuing to support schools to work with their communities to design and develop school uniforms that reflect the unique identity and culture of their school, with a focus on equitable uniform choices.
Explore Medium and Long-Term Partnerships with the Early Childhood Education and Care Sector
Sector Education and Engagement
The Children's Education and Care Assurance (CECA) organises and participates in a range of educative and deliberative forums with the education and care sector. In 2017–18 CECA held three Education and Care Sector Meetings in August, December and April.
More than 500 participants attending the meetings representing educators, managers, services and providers, and other stakeholders such as training organisations from across the sector. The meetings covered a number of important topics, such as:
- amendments to the and National Quality Standard (NQS);
- engagement of children with high care needs and Inclusion Support Plans; and
- contributing to the development of the Early Childhood Strategy.
On 18 October 2017, CECA facilitated the Collaborative Partnerships with Families and Communities Symposium (the Symposium) with a focus on Quality Area 6 of the NQS (https://www.acecqa.gov.au/nqf/national-quality-standard/quality-area-6-collaborative-partnership-with-families-and-communities) and developing strategic networks between the community and early childhood education and care services.
The Symposium centred around collaborative partnerships with families and communities and allowed for 165 leaders and educators within the sector to hear from others and ask questions to an expert panel. Presentations included:
- meaningful engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities;
- effective collaboration with schools and families in Outside School Hours Care; and
- bringing relevance to engagement with your services’ community.
In November 2017, CECA undertook a survey of services on assessment and rating reports, to ensure these reports provide clear information on the ratings given and how services can continue to improve. Of 129 services that participated, 77 (60%) responded with the majority reporting that assessment and rating reports provided by CECA reflected their service well and clearly explained reasons for the service rating. Respondents reported that the notes on quality improvement were helpful in linking to best practice resources and information.
In 2017–18 the Director, Early Childhood Policy and Regulation, visited 10 education and care services across the ACT to gain firsthand knowledge and understanding of programs and practices in these settings. The visits provide an informal means for practitioners to discuss day-to-day challenges and successes in services.
Ongoing Support Of Students with National Disability Insurance Scheme
As the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) continues to evolve, the Directorate works closely with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and the education sectors to collaborate and address issues regarding the operational interface and their associated transition to the NDIS.
In July 2017, Directorate staff completed assessments for 64 year 12 students with disability to support the NDIA in determining their suitability for NDIS funded School Leavers Employment Support. As a result, 46 of these students were able to access a package of highly individualised NDIS funded supports to assist them to develop their employment skills and to foster employment sustainability.
Implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Whole of Government Agreement
The ACT Government acknowledges that connection to country holds spiritual, social, historical, cultural and economic importance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Agreement 2015–2018 sets out the commitment of the ACT Government, our service partners, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body, and most importantly the community, to work together to recognise and respond to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in the ACT and surrounding region.
The Agreement asks the ACT community to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT to build strong foundations, resilient families, and to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in the ACT and surrounding region to achieve their personal life goals, whatever they may be.
Schools play a critical role in building respectful interactions with the community. The Directorate’s focus on building cultural integrity with ACT Public Schools is based upon the understanding that we must tailor our approach to the needs of individuals within a school community context. Throughout the year, the Directorate has sought to continuously improve the delivery of the life changing service of Education to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, their families and to the community.
The Directorate has achieved this through the following initiatives and programs:
- Cultural Integrity Self-Assessment Continuum;
- National Reconciliation Week;
- Reconciliation Plan - Keeping it Alive 2016-18:
- Garma Festival;
- Community Yarns; and
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment.
Further information is available in section B1 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Outcomes.
Implementation of Schools for All Recommendations
In 2017 the ACT education sector, including ACT Public Schools, Independent Schools and Catholic Education schools, remained focused on system reform leading to all schools being safe and inclusive learning environments for each student. As a sector we continued the implementation and embedding of the recommendations of the Expert Panel Report to meet the needs of children and young people who present with complex needs and challenging behaviours, including disability.
Nearly all of the 50 recommendations of the expert panel have been finalised however the ongoing focus on systemic cultural change continues. This focus has ensured that all children and young people in all ACT schools are placed at the centre of all decision making relating to education policy and practice.
Key achievements throughout the year include:
- Physical learning environments to foster learning culture –Schools accessed support through professional learning and infrastructure and capital works to create sensory spaces within the school environment. Sensory spaces are available to all students and may assist individuals to manage their sensory needs and safely withdraw if they require time away from busy school environments.
- Continuum of Educational Support model –The Continuum of Education Support (CES) model is a holistic framework for best practice approaches to the learning engagement of all high school students in the ACT was introduced in 2018. The framework encompasses provision of flexible learning options and alternative education programs.
- Engaging Schools Summit – The Directorate coordinated a cross-sectoral Engaging Schools Summit in September 2017, providing access to experts in innovation and evidence-based research supporting all learners to become engaged members of the learning community.
- Positive Behaviour for Learning – The Directorate has strengthened supports for schools through the Positive Behaviour for Learning Framework (PBL), a research and evidence based, whole school approach for creating safe and supportive school environments. The Directorate has developed innovative additions to the PBL model by integrating Neuroscience in Education (NeuEd) and Trauma Informed Practice to PBL processes and training. This focuses on creating enriched environments to influence brain development and maximise wellbeing for learning.
At the heart of this program of cultural reform is the core value of equity in our school and early childhood education and care systems. The ACT education sector embraces the fundamental belief that every child and young person deserves a great education and the life chances that flow from it. The key themes in Schools for All also align with the key themes in the Future of Education initiative, which form part of our education strategy for the next 10 years.
Schools to Develop Evidence-Based Improvement Strategies and School Network Sharing Best Practice
The 2017 Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) system review report recommended that individual school strategic planning be redesigned with a core focus on developing sharp and narrow improvement agendas that are measured through appropriate targets.
The School Improvement Division (the Division) continues to develop a shared understandings of evidence-based improvement strategies both at the system level and across schools. In 2018, the Division Directors participated in master-classes to deepen their understanding of the use of the National School Improvement Tool (NSIT), strategic planning and data analysis to ensure alignment with the School Improvement Cycle (SIC).
School leader development needs have been identified with regard to understanding evidence informed approaches to school improvement. Modules are being developed for system and school leaders to use a rigorous evidence informed approach that is consistent and coherent across and within schools and within the Education Support Office to inform decision making at all levels of school improvement. These modules include: creating a culture of collaborative inquiry, multiple sources of data, leading evidence informed practice and the data literate leader.
Satisfaction with ACT Public Education
The Directorate has been giving priority to strengthening relationships with parents and the community. The Directorate uses several indicators to measure its success in engaging with students, parents and the community, including student and parent/carer satisfaction. From 2018 the Directorate will report strategic indicators drawing information from the Australian School Climate and School Identification Measurement Tool Student Survey (ASCSIMT) to measure the quality of these relationships within schools. These indicators will show the change over time of the strength of identification, or ‘belonging’ with their schools of the students, staff and parents/carers.
The perception of and satisfaction with public education is an important indicator of the trust and confidence of the ACT community that the public education service available to all families can, and is, delivering outcomes for their children and young people that will stand them in good stead through further study, employment and indeed, throughout their lives.
Measures that assist in painting this picture include data on the retention rates of students within the public school system, changes in the proportion of students and their families choosing either a public or a non-government education system. Positive changes in school attendance rates, along with the overall satisfaction of students and their families with public education in the ACT all contribute to building that picture further. Finally, data on student post-school destinations, rounds out this picture.
The student satisfaction indicator is based on a survey of students from years 5 to 12 in ACT public schools, excluding students at specialist schools, conducted in August each year. In determining overall student satisfaction, the question ‘Overall I am satisfied I am getting a good education at this school’ is used. Responses are collected on a five point scale with only statements of ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ used to calculate overall satisfaction rates.
The data below (Figures B2.18 and B2.19) indicate that there was a high level of student, parent and carer satisfaction with the education provided at public schools over the past five years. Overall student satisfaction (across primary, high and college sectors) with the quality of education received at public schools has increased slightly from 75 percent in 2013 to 76 percent in 2017 (Figure B2.18). The level of overall parent/carer satisfaction was stable over the last five years from 2013 to 2017, with 2017 performance of 85 percent being just below the target of 88 percent (Figure B2.19).
Figure B2.18: Percentage of overall student satisfaction with education in ACT public schools between 2013 to 2017
Source: ACT Education Directorate
Figure B2.19: Overall satisfaction of Parents and Carers with the education provided at ACT public schools, 2013 to 2017
Source: ACT Education Directorate
Better Schools for Our Kids – School Psychologists
School Psychology Services
The Directorate supports students and school communities by utilising the skills and expertise of school psychologists and allied health professionals to identify and remove barriers to students accessing education. Psychologists and allied health professionals can provide supports at the whole-school level (universal), through small groups (selected) and for individual students (targeted).
The 2017-18 ACT Budget provided resourcing to recruit an additional five full-time school psychologists for ACT public schools. These psychologists commenced in January 2018. An additional ten full time psychologists will be recruited at the end of 2018 to start in our schools in 2019.
Students, parents/carers and school staff in ACT public schools have access to their school psychologist to identify and support their learning, wellbeing and mental health needs. The work of the school psychologists is based on an early intervention and prevention model which is ecologically informed, meaning they consider all parts of a student’s life (family, classroom, peers) when working with a child or young person. The ACT Education School Psychology Service is part of the wider ACT mental health system including ACT Health, Headspace and the Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network - Australian National University (ANU).
In addition to school psychologists, the Network Student Engagement team (NSET), based in each of the ACT public school networks, provides multidisciplinary input from professionals to support individual students and build capacity within schools. The team comprises of social workers, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, senior psychologists and specialist educators.
In the ACT there were 51 public primary schools participating in the KidsMatter program and 19 public high schools and colleges engaged with the MindMatters programs during 2017-18. These evidence-based Australian mental health and wellbeing frameworks help take care of student’s mental health needs and prevent issues from arising in the first place.
The ACT Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) is partnering with four selected ACT public schools to provide the Understanding and Responding to Feelings and Behaviours (UR Fab) mental health early intervention program for children in Years 1 to 3 during 2017-18. The program aims to support children who are struggling to manage their strong emotions and behaviours, as well as to improve social skills and friendship skills. Research has shown that helping families and schools work together in the early years can have positive results for children both in their classroom and the wider world.
Early Childhood Education and Care
The first three to four years of life establish a child’s learning and development. Children’s brains develop rapidly from birth, with healthy brain development setting the foundation for learning and positive social relationships.
International and national evidence demonstrates that participation in quality early learning programs has significant benefits for young children because it makes the most of the brain’s keen ability to absorb information and acquire skills early in life.
Children who have accessed quality, structured early learning programs are more likely to make a successful transition to school, stay longer in school, continue to further education and fully participate in employment and community life as adults. These children experience the benefits irrespective of their family, social or economic context.
In 2012, all states and territories and the Commonwealth implemented the National Quality Framework (NQF) (https://www.acecqa.gov.au/nqf/about) for the early childhood education and care sector. The NQF covers long day care, family day care, preschools and out of school hours care. Its primary function is to create a framework of education and care for children from 0–5 years who are not enrolled in school, and primary school aged children who attend out of school hours care.
The NQF established the Education and Care Services National Law – a uniform approach to regulation and quality assessment of the sector. Under the National Law, services are assessed and rated against the National Quality Standard (NQS) (https://www.acecqa.gov.au/nqf/national-quality-standard). Following an assessment, an overall rating is given dependent on evidence collected across seven quality areas:
- education program and practice;
- children’s health and safety;
- physical environment;
- staffing arrangements;
- relationships with children;
- collaborative partnerships with families and communities; and
- leadership and service management.
There are five rating levels within the assessment and rating process as follows:
- Excellent rating, awarded by Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority;
- Exceeding National Quality Standard;
- Meeting National Quality Standard;
- Working Towards National Quality Standard; and
- Significant Improvement Required.
As at 30 June 2018, the ACT had 357 services approved under the National Law. Of these, 321 services have a quality rating, representing approximately 89.9 percent of services. The nominal capacity of the sector is approximately 24,000 full time places for children.
As at 30 June 2018:
- 232 services have received their first assessment and rating only; and
- 158 services have received a subsequent assessment and rating audit, of which:
- 58 percent of services were rated with a higher rating then their previous report
- 39 percent of services that were rated were unchanged, and
- 3 percent of services were rated lower than their previous report.
This upward trend to overall improvement across the next assessed services shows a trend that most services are improving in quality.
As at December 2015, all services registered prior to March 2014 had received their first assessment under the NQF. As at 30 June 2018, the positioning of education and care services in the ACT was:
- 0 (0%) services had a Significant Improvement Required rating;
- 86 (26.8%) services had a Working Towards rating;
- 86 (26.8%) services had achieved a Meeting rating;
- 145 (45.2%) services had achieved an Exceeding rating; and
- 4 (1.2%) services had achieved an Excellent rating.
Figure B2.20: Education and care sector services awarded a quality rating as at 30 June 2018
Children's Education and Care Assurance
The National Quality Framework (NQF) for the education and care sector established the Education and Care Services National Law 2010 (the National Law) and a uniform approach to the regulation and quality assessment of the education and care sector. The Director-General of the Education Directorate is the ACT’s Regulatory Authority.
The National Law places obligations upon the ACT Regulatory Authority, CECA, to undertake investigation, compliance, enforcement and assessment and rating functions against the NQS. The team is comprised of expert officers working in the following areas:
- Quality Assurance;
- Audit and Risk Management; and
The key objective of Quality Assurance is to assist providers and services in their journey of continuous improvement in delivering quality early childhood learning to children. CECA’s Quality Assurance team undertakes the assessment and rating process of the sector in accordance with the National Law. This process provides several benefits:
- educators with increased skills and qualifications;
- better support for children’s learning and development; and
- a national register to help parents assess the quality of education and care services in their local area.
Audit and Risk Management
CECA’s Audit and Risk Management team undertake compliance audits and risk assessment audits of education and care services. Compliance audits help to ensure that services are meeting their minimum requirements as set by the National Law.
Announced and unannounced compliance audits are conducted within the year. The team also carries out short notice audits in response to relevant incidents or allegations. These types of audits are called risk audits or if appropriate, emergency response audits. Risk audits and emergency response audits are conducted to resolve any specific and immediate risk to children.
The team also makes a risk assessment of each service in the ACT. These are used to inform the long-term scheduling of audits and quality assessment and ratings. Each service is provided with a risk rating score and overall risk rating which informs the frequency of visits required to the service to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of children is being sufficiently met.
In early 2017, CECA introduced a compliance self-assessment tool for services to use to monitor their compliance with the National Law. The tool is a positive measure in continuous improvement for the sector in preparing for audits and maintaining compliance. Since its distribution, there has been an improvement in the awareness of services’ obligations under the National Law, reflected during audits.
As at 30 June 2018, the team had processed 811 notifications. Of those 811 notifications, 59 matters were investigated, 23 matters were subject to risk audit, and one matter was subject to both investigation and risk audit. The team carried out 247 compliance audits in the financial year and 20 risk audits in response to incidents or allegations that
substantiated required a rapid response.
CECA’s Investigation team works on any information that CECA becomes aware of, that there has or may have been a contravention of the National Law, where the contravention represents a risk, or the potential for risk, to the safety, health and well-being of children. Officers in the Investigation team hold Certificate IV in Government (Investigations), Diploma of Government (Investigations) and/or investigation training of a policing standard.
As at 30 June 2018, 59 investigations were conducted by the team. At the end of June 2018, there were approximately 15 investigations in progress, and 63 cases closed of which 19 have been carried over from 2016-2017. Major areas of investigation for the financial year were: allegations of harm to children; staffing arrangements and inadequate supervision; and missing/unaccounted for children.
As at 30 June 2018 CECA issued
59 65 compliance actions to the sector. Compliance actions range from administrative letters, to conditions on service or provider approval, enforceable undertakings, emergency action notices, compliance directions, compliance notices, suspension or cancellation of services and prohibition of individuals.
One compliance action was subject to application for external review by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal. This appeal was resolved through a consent to an enforceable undertaking.
Assessment and ratings completed within legislated timeframes
This indicator measures the percentage of quality assessment and ratings of education and care services completed by Authorised Officers within legislated timeframes.
Under the Education and Care Services National Law (ACT) Act 2011 the legislated timeframe between the assessment visit and the issue of the final report and rating notice is within 60 days.
Authorised Officers from CECA conduct assessment and rating of services against the National Quality Standard. The process meets statutory requirements and a national approach to the assessment and reporting of the quality of education and care services across a variety of service settings.
The target of assessment and ratings completed within legislated timeframes for the
2017–18 financial year was 100 percent. The result for the outcome is determined by calculating the number of assessment and rating cycles in which the final report and rating notices were issued within the legislated timeframe. The final report and rating notice sent date must fall within the reporting timeframe.
The number of assessment and rating cycles conducted to completion during the time period
1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018 was 69. The number completed within the legislated timeframe was 68. This resulted in 99 percent achievement against a target of 100 percent.
Annual compliance audit is delivered in full
This measures the percentage of compliance audits undertaken for the purpose of a minimum target number established by the Directorate’s Senior Executive Team for the 2017–18 financial year. A formal letter from the Director Early Childhood Policy and Regulation to the Senior Executive Team of the Directorate stipulates the number of compliance audits to be undertaken in the financial year for the purposes of this indicator.
A scheduled audit of an education and care service is conducted against the minimum requirements of the Education and Care Services National Law (ACT) Act 2011. The target of compliance audits to complete for 2017–18 was 36 (100% target). A total of 36 compliance audits were conducted, resulting in 100 percent compliance with the target number.
For further information contact:
Director, Early Childhood Policy and Regulation
(02) 6207 1114
Universal Access to Early Childhood Education: National Partnership Agreement
The National Partnership for Universal Access to Early Childhood Education (NP UAECE) is a key element to ensuring young children have free universal access to early childhood education in the year before school. The ACT Government is the major contributor of free access to preschool through 12 hours a week of free public preschool. The NP UAECE provides an additional three hours which gets us to 15 hours of free preschool a week for four year olds.
On 8 May 2018, the Australian Government committed to extend the NP UAECE agreement into 2019. Nationally, $428 million was committed with around $9 million allocated to the ACT. The 12-month extension for 2018 is the fifth in a series of such agreements.
The NP UAECE provides a joint funding contribution to support the continued provision of 600 hours per year of free public preschool education, in the year before formal schooling. Its objective is to support universal access to, and improved participation by, children in quality early childhood education in the year before full-time schooling with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
As a requirement of the NP UAECE 2016 and 2017, the ACT’s performance was measured against six performance indicators in the NP UAECE (2016–2017).
For the 2017 assessed performance and related payment under the NP UAECE, the ACT achieved the performance indicators and received full payment of the 2017 performance payment allocation of around $5 million. The ACT’s performance shows 97 percent of four-year old children were part of a preschool program and 95 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children participating in a preschool program available for 600 hours per year. This is an increase from 91 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children for the previous reporting period.
National Quality Agenda: National Partnership Agreement
The National Partnership Agreement on the National Quality Agenda (NP NQA) provides for partial funding from the Australian Government of Regulatory Authorities in each jurisdiction to support assessment and rating of services across the country.
Assessment and rating is an ongoing process that supports the improvement of service delivery and the maintenance of good practice within services. In 2017–18 the ACT conducted assessment and rating of 15 percent of all services to receive the funding.
Under the NP NQA, the ACT received $459,000 from the Australian Government, of which $130,000 was contributed by the ACT to the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) national body.
The Australian Government unilaterally decided in its 2018–19 budget not to fund the NP NQA beyond June 2018. Consequently, the partnership will cease on 30 December 2018.
International Education Unit
The International Education Unit provides supporting services for international students studying in the ACT. The purpose of the International Education Unit is to capitalise on the uniqueness of the ACT public education system to provide quality academic and social experiences for international students by reaching out to strategic partners and building cultural understandings. The International Education Unit has the following strategic priorities:
- quality international education and social experiences;
- high-performing and enriched international education programs; and
- evidence-based decision making.
The Directorate embraces cultural diversity and welcomes international fee-paying students on a School Sector Student Visa Subclass 500, and the dependants of temporary residents visa holders, who hold various work or study visas, to enrol into ACT public schools from preschool through to year 12. International student numbers are reported for each calendar year.
The payment of tuition fees for the dependents of temporary residents is dependent upon their parents’ visa subclass, with 75 percent of dependents exempt from paying tuition fees in ACT public schools. As their parents are the principal visa holders, dependent children of temporary residents generally enrol onshore.
Over the past five years, there has been steady growth in the numbers of students holding a School Sector Student Visa Subclass 500, with an eight percent increase in student numbers between 2016 and 2017. The numbers of fee-paying students studying in ACT public schools as dependents on their parents’ visa has largely remained static over the past six years.
Figure B2.21: Full fee paying and fee-exempt international students in public schools 2012 to 2017
Source: ACT Education Directorate
The Directorate contributes to the maintenance of standards in non-government schools and home education through compliance and registration, and the accreditation and certification of senior secondary courses through the Board of Senior Secondary Studies (BSSS). The Directorate also undertakes the administration and payment of the Commonwealth and ACT Government grants to registered ACT non-government schools.
At the time of the February 2018 census 302 ACT resident children and young people were registered for home education. During the reporting period 389 ACT resident children and young people were registered for home education with 178 of these students being provisionally registered.
In 2017-18, the Directorate met its targets for home education in that it completed the provisional registration of all 178 home educated students within 10 school days of the receipt of the parent’s application for provisional registration.
In 2017-18 there were 47 non-government school registered in the ACT (comprising 29 Catholic systemic schools and 18 independent schools). In the reporting period 11 registration processes were conducted. These processes resulted in the registration of:
- six Catholic systemic schools (Good Shepherd Primary School, Holy Spirit Primary School, Merici College, St Jude’s Primary School, St Mary MacKillop College, and St Thomas Aquinas Primary School) being renewed for five years (2018-2022);
- three independent schools (Burgmann Anglican School, Emmaus Christian School, and Trinity Christian School) being renewed for five years (2018-2022);
- Islamic School of Canberra for kindergarten to year 7 being renewed for 2018 only; and
- Taqwa School for kindergarten to year 4 being renewed for 2018 only.
No new non-government schools opened in the ACT during the reporting period.
In 2017-18, the Directorate met its targets for non-government school education in that it:
- ensured all non-government schools operating in the ACT during the reporting period were registered; and
- paid all grants within the required seven business days of receiving funds from the Commonwealth Government.
School Portfolio Carbon Emissions
Carbon emissions across the school portfolio are derived from gas and electricity energy consumption. The Directorate’s priority in managing its carbon emissions is informed by the strategic pathway outlined in AP2: A new climate change strategy and action plan for the Australian Capital Territory and the Carbon Neutral ACT Government Framework.
The Directorate, in line with the Carbon Neutral ACT Government Framework, is committed to reducing its carbon emissions. In 2017-18 school-based carbon emissions continued a downward trend (Figure B2.22), achieving a 28.16 percent reduction on 2016-17 emissions. While the reduction included the falling ACT Carbon Emission Factor for electricity, real reductions in electricity and gas consumption were realised in the reporting period. Major initiatives contributing to the reduction included the implementation of a building management system at Erindale Education and Recreation College and a targeted program of improving gas use efficiency across high gas use intensity sites. Details of these reductions and associated initiatives are included in Section B9.
Figure B2.22: School portfolio carbon emissions (tonnes), 2012-13 to 2016-17
Source: ACT Education Directorate
Note: ACT carbon emission factors are adjusted annual to reflect ACT specific electricity emission factors for the previous and current year.
Freedom of Information
In line with ACT Government policy, the Directorate is committed to making government decisions transparent through Open Government initiatives. The Freedom of Information (FOI) process is a mechanism allowing the community to access information held by the Directorate. The number of new FOI requests received in the reporting period was 43 (Figure B2.23). The requests received in 2017-18 comprised of 12 from Media and 31 from other sources, primarily seeking access to personal information.
Figure B2.23: Number of new FOI Requests 2012-13 to 2017-18
Source: ACT Education Directorate