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Director-General's Reflection

Photo of the Director-General, Natalie Howson, smiling towards the camera

I am pleased to present the Education Directorate’s 2017-2018 Annual Report. This report highlights how the Directorate delivered excellence in public education for the 47,945 students who attended one of Canberra’s 87 public schools over the past year.

By any measure, our students are the highest achieving in the nation. They go on to develop into contributing citizens in community life and workplaces. However, we know that the backgrounds and circumstances of children affect their opportunities at school, and that children can start life in vastly different places. This year has been one of reform as we have focused on how to ensure every child and young person is empowered to learn for life – because, as one parent told us, “education is an opportunity to develop ALL our kids into the best people they can be”.

In February 2017 the ACT Government committed to having a “big conversation” with the community to develop a 10-year strategy for the future of education in the ACT. We also examined the best systems in the world and conducted research into optimising outcomes for every child and young person. Almost 5,000 people contributed to this conversation, including 2,200 students. The Future of Education strategy has since been released, based on the principles of equity, student agency, access and inclusion.

Quality teaching and school leadership has the most significant impact on student performance. Our support for teachers this year has included more mentoring and more opportunities for professional development. Emphasis on early years literacy and programs such as Principals as Numeracy Leaders ensure foundation skills are in place and have been embraced by teachers dedicated to improving their practice. Teachers are being supported to deliver science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education through the thriving Centre for Innovation and Learning.

The reporting period also saw a significant focus on early childhood education, in recognition of the importance of the period from birth to eight years, which sets the foundation for every child’s social, physical, emotional and cognitive development. The Early Childhood Education Advisory Council has been established and work is under way to develop an Early Childhood Strategy.

The year was also characterised by innovation in education. New devices for every public high school student, developing multi-disciplinary expert teams to strengthen support available for students when needed, a new school review and improvement process and the development of our cultural integrity framework are just a few examples of this.

I love spending time in our schools. I am always in awe of the committed, dedicated people who make our schools wonderful places for students to learn. The enthusiasm our children and young people have for learning is inspiring. I acknowledge and thank all our valued stakeholders and congratulate them for the contribution they have made over the past year.

Natalie Howson