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Auditor-General Report No. 4/2018

2016-17 Financial Audits – Computer Information Systems

Recommendation

Action

Status

  1. Monitoring of Audit Logs
    1. The Education Directorate should:
      1. incorporate procedures for the review of audit logs in the new Schools Administration System; and
      2. perform periodic reviews of audit logs in accordance with these procedures.

As reported at paragraph 2.28 of the Report, Maze does not have the capability to generate audit logs on access to Maze and its data, and that the periodic review of audit logs will be implemented as part of the planned replacement of Maze with the new School Administration System (SAS), expected to occur in 2019-20.

In progress

Auditor-General Report No. 2/2018

Act Government Strategic and Accountability Indicators

The Auditor-General report was tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly on 1 February 2018, and the government response was subsequently tabled on 5 June 2018. The Education Directorate will develop an action plan in 2018-19.

Auditor-General Report No. 11/2017

2016-17 Financial Audits – Financial Results and Audit Findings

Recommendation

Action

Status

The Audit Office issued an unqualified audit report on the Directorate’s 2016-17 financial statements.

The Audit Office reported two previously unresolved audit findings:

  1. salary reports distributed to schools and business units did not always have evidence of review. This control weakness increases the risk of erroneous or fraudulent salary payments not being promptly detected and corrected; and
  2. the Directorate's school administration system (Maze) does not have the capability to generate audit logs showing the activities of users accessing the system and its data. The Directorate also does not have a documented policy for the review of audit logs.

Instructions and reminders on action to be taken in reviewing salary reports have been issued to relevant staff. In addition, the Directorate is participating in a pilot project with Shared Services to implement an electronic form and approval process to improve compliance and monitoring capability.

The Directorate will address this control weakness as part of the replacement of the student administration system. The replacement student administration system is expected to be fully operational by 2019-20.

In progress

In progress

No new audit findings were identified in 2016-17.

Auditor-General Report No. 4/2017

Performance Information in Act Public Schools

Recommendation

Action

Status

  1. The Education Directorate should provide guidance on how performance indicators in its Strategic Planning cycle 2018‐2020 are to be measured, as well as associated quantitative targets associated with the indicators.

Government Response – Agreed

The Directorate is currently developing the new strategic plan to align more precisely with school strategic planning through the refined 2018 school review process, including the provision of a baseline of consistent agreed data sets across schools.

In progress

  1. The Education Directorate should develop new Strategic Indicators which are based on measuring student progress over time.

Government Response – Agreed in principle

The Directorate has sought the assistance of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to develop additional NAPLAN indicators that will demonstrate growth achieved by students in ACT public schools. In progress
  1. The Education Directorate should improve the quality and comprehensiveness of schools’ Strategic Plans and Annual Action Plans by requiring:
    1. explicit objectives and strategies in relation to student performance information and its use in driving school improvement; and
    2. performance measures based on students’ educational progress.

Government Response – Agreed

In 2016, the Directorate implemented a more rigorous School Review process based on the nine domains of the National School Improvement Tool (NSIT). Since the commencement of 2017, all schools have transitioned to a new Annual Action Plan approach which is substantially supported by consultation and guidance from the Education Support Office to ensure the efficacy of performance planning for each school.

The new School Review, and more specifically the nine domains of the NSIT, enables closer interrogation of each school’s evidence against each of its priorities and importantly enables an explicit examination of each school’s overall performance based on system data.

Complete
  1. The Education Directorate should examine what may be the appropriate level of support for school Principals with respect to the use of student performance information to drive school improvement and determine how this is to be provided. This should recognise the balance between school autonomy and accountability and central oversight and support from the Education Support Office.

Government Response – Agreed

Following on from the release of Enabling Evidence in Canberra Public Schools – Valuing Data as Evidence to inform Great Teaching, the Directorate has provided masterclasses for school leaders as they develop their strategic plans (focusing on the schools that have just completed school review). The Directorate is strengthening school leadership capability in the use of evidence and inquiry in schools. This capacity series targets school leaders at all levels. The series commenced in term 2 2018. In progress
  1. The Education Directorate should develop strategies to address the low participation rates in NAPLAN testing in some ACT public schools, specifically with respect to Year 9 participation.

Government Response – Noted

The benefits of participation in NAPLAN will be promoted to parents as part of the rollout of NAPLAN online. In progress
  1. The Education Directorate should implement a standards‐based moderation process across schools and school networks in order to achieve consistency in A to E grading and reporting.

Government Response – Agreed in principle

Teacher professional development in the application of the Australian Curriculum and the achievement standards was strengthened significantly in Term 4, 2017 and Term 1, 2018 with full day curriculum application workshops held for primary and secondary teachers. This robust development program supports consistent judgment through standards-based assessment processes and the assigning of A-E grades. In progress
  1. The Education Directorate should develop a comprehensive professional learning program for school principals and teachers on the use of student performance information and how it can be used to inform differentiated teaching and learning to students and overall school improvement.

Government Response – Agreed

Refer to ‘Action’ in response to Recommendation 4 above.

Building on the strengthening of leadership capability, the Directorate is explicitly connecting evidenced informed practice and professional learning communities to ensure school improvement and performance information translates into differentiated teaching and learning.

In progress

Auditor-General Report No. 5/2014

Capital Works Reporting

Recommendation

Action

Status

This Report has an outstanding recommendation related to the Education Directorate:

  1. The Commerce and Works Directorate’s Shared Services Procurement and directorates should develop capital works service level agreements, or the equivalent, by 31 December 2014. These should specify reporting responsibilities.

Government Response – Agreed in principle

The development and implementation of this service level agreement has not yet been finalised by Procurement and Capital Works, Shared Services.

In progress

Government Response to the Report of the Select Committee on Estimates 2017-18 on the Inquiry into Appropriation Bill 2017-18 and the Appropriation (Office of the Legislative Assembly) Bill 2017-18 including the Government Response to the Pegasus Economics Report Review of the ACT Budget 2017-18.

Recommendation

Action

Status

  1. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government publicly provide information on school facilities available for use by community groups after hours, including cost per hour and other requirements.

Government response - Agreed in part.

The ACT Government currently provides details of school facilities available for hire (with the exception of pricing details) at the following link through the Education Directorate website: https://www.education.act.gov.au/about-us/policies-and-publications/publications_a-z.

Community use of schools policies and procedures place a positive obligation on schools to make their facilities available for public use on a cost recovery basis. Principals also have the discretion to provide school facilities at no cost to community groups.

Complete

  1. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government consider insurance arrangements for low risk groups using its venues to facilitate low cost use of these facilities by community groups, incorporated or informal.

Government response - Noted

Community use of schools policies and procedures currently provide the capacity for low risk community group activities to access school premises without insurance coverage. Complete
  1. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government consider implementing any small capital investments that will help to improve access and security arrangements for community groups using school premises outside standard operating hours.

Government response - Agreed

The ACT Government has established a
cross-agency working group and provided funding of $100,000 through the 2017-18 Budget to improve access and security for community groups using premises outside standard operating hours. This builds on the $100,000 provided in the previous term.
In progress
  1. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government conduct an annual survey of teachers who are in their first four years of teaching to determine whether they are receiving an induction commensurate with the Education Directorate’s intent.

Government response - Agreed in principle

A survey of beginning teachers is proposed from late 2018 to gain an understanding of the beginning teacher experience. This survey will go beyond responses regarding induction and will include feedback on student placements and university training experiences. In progress
  1. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government take appropriate action to rectify any shortfalls identified through the annual ‘new teacher survey.’

Government response - Agreed.

A plan will be developed to respond to feedback. In progress
  1. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government sets targets for indigenous students’ attendance during NAPLAN testing and report on those targets.

Government response - Noted.

Participation in NAPLAN testing is expected by all students in ACT public schools. Students may be withdrawn from the testing program by their parent or carer. The Directorate acknowledges that the reasons behind withdrawals and absences from NAPLAN testing are varied and can be personal. The Directorate does not support setting specific targets for NAPLAN participation for any one cultural group. Complete
  1. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government set clear targets on closing the gap, in percentage points, for each year of NAPLAN and report on those targets.

Government response - Noted.

The ACT Education Directorate currently reports on closing the gap targets which have been set through the National Indigenous Reform Agreement (NIRA). One such target is to halve the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous students in NAPLAN reading, writing and numeracy by 2018. ACT and other Australian jurisdictions are also working with the Commonwealth Government to progress work on a refresh of the Closing the Gap targets and framework. It would not be appropriate for the ACT to begin reporting on a new, related target while this work is underway. Complete
  1. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government publish a list of approved groups and entities who deliver educational programs in ACT schools on a regular basis, including an outline of programs being delivered.

Government response - Noted.

It would not be practicable to regularly publish an exhaustive list of all approved groups and entities who deliver educational programs in ACT schools. A large number of different organisations and entities are present in ACT schools, once approved. For any program run by an external provider, schools must refer to the Working with Children and Young People – Volunteers and Visitors (Interim) Policy.

The ACT has a system wide school-based decision making model in place, where each school network and leadership team is able to make decisions on the engagement of groups and entities to meet the varying requirements of their students and school communities. Principals, in conjunction with school boards, are able to make decisions about engaging industry expertise to provide input on specific learning. This can vary based on each school's educational and improvement priorities.

Complete
  1. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government investigate options for encouraging more members of the community to become Learning Support Assistants.

Government response - Agreed.

The role of the learning support assistant continues to evolve. Work will commence shortly on better defining this role in various settings and looking at best fit recruitment strategies. Following the completion of this work, the Education Directorate will investigate the development of options as per the Committee’s recommendation. Ongoing
  1. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government conduct an analysis of home-education requirements in other jurisdictions, with a view to determining whether the ACT’s approach is consistent or could be improved.

Government response - Agreed.

The Directorate will undertake an analysis of its home education program, particularly with reference to practices in other jurisdictions. In progress
  1. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government continue to support affordable access to public spaces, including the Theo Notaras Centre and school halls, for community groups.

Government response - Agreed

The Community Services Directorate agrees to continue to support affordable access to the Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre for multicultural community use. The ACT Government is committed to making ACT public schools available to sport, recreation and community groups outside school hours and a working group has been established with the Education Directorate, Active Canberra and the Community Services Directorate to facilitate increased access. Complete

For further information contact:
Director, Governance and Community Liaison
(02) 6207 2990

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