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Noteworthy operational achievements and progress against key outputs

The Strategic Plan 2010-2013: Everyone matters and the Operational Plan 2011 and 2012 provide the direction for setting organisational priorities and outcomes. There are four priority areas identified in the Strategic Plan, that are also reflected in the operational plan: Learning and Teaching; School Environment; Student Pathways and Transition; and Leadership and Corporate Development. There were a number of noteworthy achievements under each priority area and significant progress was made in delivering key outputs.

Learning and Teaching

Implementing the Australian Curriculum

Photo of students focussing on their teacher's words during a classroom lesson.
The Australian Curriculum was implemented for kindergarten to year 10 English, science, mathematics and history from primary to year 9. Year 10 history will start from 2013.
  • Continued implementation of Phase one of the Australian Curriculum in all public schools.
  • Actively participated in the development of Phase 2 learning areas of the Australian Curriculum.
  • In 2012, 14 ACT Public 'Lead Schools' provided contributions to the Australian Curriculum work samples project.
  • Provided high quality professional development for teachers to support them in implementing the Australian Curriculum

Learning and Teaching

Raising standards in literacy and numeracy

Photo of a senior primary aged female student writing in her notebook.
Through building the knowledge and capability of our staff and providing the best learning environment for our students we advanced educational standards. Our students continued to achieve excellent results in NAPLAN.
  • Increased focus by principals on their role as instructional leaders, imparting their knowledge of literacy and numeracy best practice in the classroom.
  • A Literacy and Numeracy Conference assisted teachers in targeting support to enable students to perform to their full potential, including addressing challenges in meeting the diverse needs of the students.
  • Trialled new approaches to teaching literacy and numeracy, including action learning programs.
  • Literacy and numeracy coordinators and field officers provided specialist support to teachers to build on their knowledge and capacity to improve literacy and numeracy.
  • Increased use of diagnostic tools, such as IMPROVE, to track student performance and identify areas needing intervention.

Learning and Teaching

Strengthening early childhood education

  • Continued implementation of 15 hours of free preschool education in 44 public preschools.
  • Employed a number of strategies to ensure qualified early childhood teachers were appointed to support increased access to preschool programs. Strategies included scholarships and prioritised recruitment.
  • Continue early childhood intervention programs for children who have, or are at risk of having, a disability or delay in development, which focused on learning through play, participation, exploration and experimentation.
  • Continued the $6.21 million upgrade of public preschool units to ensure compliance with the National Quality Standards.
Photo of two preschool boys enjoying the view from a tree in the playground.
We understand how critical it is to nurture and support our young children through early childhood and schooling. Forty-four schools delivered 15 hours of preschool education in 2012.

Learning and Teaching

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

Photo of a large group of primary aged students dancing to the sound of a didgeridoo.
We implemented programs and initiated projects to close the learning achievement gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and other students. Our inclusive school environment and curriculum were effective in meeting the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
  • 131 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from year 5 to year 12 nominated to participate in the Aspirations Program designed to increase progression to tertiary studies.
  • Awarded 11 scholarships of $5,000 per annum to year 11 and 12 students under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Scholarship Program.
  • Offered Koori Preschool Programs to provide an early childhood education program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
  • Provided specific tutorial assistance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students based on their individual needs.
  • Placed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Officers in high schools to improve attendance, support high school to college transition and strengthen relationships between schools and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities.

School Environment

Building excellence in disability education

Photo of two primary aged students at Malkara School using iPads to assist their education.
We helped students with disability to achieve their full potential by offering them a range of specialist settings and programs. Our schools focused on making education and training accessible to students with disability.
  • Commenced the development of a guide to disability education services for parents and carers of students with disability.
  • Established a service agreement for the delivery of therapy services in schools.
  • Continued to provide early intervention programs of up to nine hours per week to three and four year-old children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  • Signed the More Support for Students with Disabilities National Partnership, providing ACT public education with $2.7 million to support disability education.
  • Designated a Disability Education Coordinator at 82 of 84 schools to build capacity for meeting the needs of students with disability.
  • Commenced the development of a training package for staff to improve compliance with the Disability Standards for Education 2005.

School Environment

Promoting innovative, inspiring and safe learning environments

Photo of primary aged students singing at the gala performance of Limelight.
We provided a range of curricular and extracurricular activities to make learning fun and inclusive. Students from different schools are singing in the fifth 'Step into the Limelight' gala performance. The 2011 theme, Seasons, was explored through dance, drama, music and new media, showcasing the talent of ACT public schools.
  • Opened the INSPIRE Centre, a joint collaboration with the University of Canberra for the promotion of ICT in learning and teaching.
  • The Environment Centre at the Gold Creek School was named a finalist in the Green Building Award category for the United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Awards 2012.
  • In 2011, the Instrumental Music Program held its 26th annual school band festival featuring up to 40 bands. The Senior Concert Band was nominated for two Canberra Area Theatre Awards for its performances at Step into the Limelight.
  • Secondary school facilities for year 7 and 8 students opened at Harrison School at the start of the 2012 school year. The school received the first ever 5 Green Star Design rating in the ACT.
  • Implemented the School Youth Health Nurse Program. Four youth health nurses were employed in public schools.
  • Implemented stage 2 of the Connected Learning Communities virtual learning environment across all public schools.
  • Solar power systems were installed at 19 public schools.

School Environment

Strengthening student engagement

Photo of the Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the President of the United States of America Barack Obama discussing issues with students at Campbell High School on 17 November 2011.
We provided opportunities for our students to experience the global significance of learning. The visit of President Obama of the United States of America at Campbell High School on 17 November 2011 provided the senior students of the school with an opportunity to discuss various global issues with a high profile international personality.
  • Implemented improvements to reporting and monitoring of attendance, particularly for primary school students.
  • Achievement Centres continued to operate at three sites. Centres supported students in year 7 and 8 who did not experience a successful transition to high school or who were not successfully engaged in learning.
  • Provided schools with support services to address learning barriers faced by students.
  • Strengthened student leadership in schools through establishment of School Representative Councils for high schools in the South/Weston Network and primary schools in the Belconnen Network.

Student Pathways and Transitions

Improving secondary education in ACT public schools

Photo of four secondary students proudly displaying their medals and certificates for their involvement in World Skills Australia.
Improved student pathways and transitions was a key strategy in ensuring that our schools continued to develop engaging, coherent learning programs that catered for the increased diversity of interests and needs of our students.
  • Established Secondary Schooling Innovation Fund to provide seed funding to develop innovative approaches to support secondary education renewal under the Excellence and Enterprise framework.
  • Implementation of the Virtual Learning Academy (VLA) commenced. The VLA provided an online integrated framework to improve educational provision for students with high academic ability. The pilot program focused on the year 7 to 10 science curriculum.
  • Enrolled students in the new Science, Mathematics and Related Technologies (SMART) program at Gungahlin College.
  • Offered a learning program and pathways plan for students from preschool to year 12 with extension to the University of Canberra under the Gungahlin Connected program.
  • Secured Commonwealth funding for the Tuggeranong Sustainable Living Trade Training Centre for the delivery of nationally recognised qualifications in hospitality, construction, automotive and horticulture trades.
  • Commenced processes for accelerated pathways for gifted and talented students.

Student Pathways and Transitions

Implementing training system enhancements for skills and workforce development

Photo of a large number of people receiving awards at the ACT Training Excellence Awards.
The Directorate aims to develop a skilled workforce to address emerging productivity challenges. The Training Excellence Awards recognise the valuable contribution students and organisations make to vocational education and training in the ACT.
  • Identified a clear strategy to achieve training outcomes of increased qualification commencements and completions under the National Partnership for Skills Reform.
  • Allocated additional funding for 526 job seekers and 1,464 existing workers to achieve VET qualification under the Productivity Places Program.
  • Developed a professional learning program for teachers to build a range of skills to enhance their online teaching practices. The skills, with a focus on mobile devices, were applied across all curriculum areas.
  • Awarded scholarships to teachers to upgrade their qualifications.
  • Exceeded our target to deliver 25,503 government funded course enrolments in VET by 26 percent.
  • Exceeded our target to deliver 217 enrolments by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in government funded higher level VET qualifications by 92 percent

Student Pathways and Transitions

Monitoring students through the education system to appropriate and successful outcomes

Photo of Andria Bencich and Nathan Ballard, with their teacher Megan Lewis, from Erindale College who won a gold medal at the International Secondary Schools Culinary Challenge in Taiwan.
We provided our students with access to a vocational education and training experience program, and guidance for a smooth transition from school to working life. Pictured are Andria Bencich and Nathan Ballard, with their teacher Megan Lewis, from Erindale College who won a gold medal at the International Secondary Schools Culinary Challenge in Taiwan
  • Created more than 100 employment opportunities across the ACT Government for students to achieve a nationally recognised vocational qualification under Australian School-based Apprenticeships (ASBA).
  • Offered CIT Central Courses program to year 9 and 10 students to provide an opportunity to try out a career while at school. The program delivered courses in seven different disciplines.
  • Established four Re-engaging Youth Network Boards to provide a greater level of collaboration across community and government to support young people who were disengaged or at risk of disengaging from education.
  • Commenced design work on a new purpose built facility for the Canberra College Cares (CCCares) program. CCCares is a national award winning program providing educational and support facilities to young pregnant and parenting students and their children.
  • Moving Forward Officers at each college facilitated the transition of students into and out of the college sector and access to further education, training or employment.

Student Pathways and Transitions

Supporting successful transitions for all students

Photo of ten college age students involved in new career options. They are in an aeroplane mechanic workshop standing in front of aircraft.
Our schools offered opportunities for our students to ensure a smooth transition to working life. Different career oriented options were available for students to test career choices against the realities of the workplace.
  • Delivered alternative education programs to provide nationally accredited vocational qualifications to year 9 to 12 students at risk of disengaging from education.
  • Increased Structured Workplace Learning placements from 850 to 945 under the National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions.
  • Provided three sponsorships of $10,000 per annum to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students undertaking teaching studies at the University of Canberra.
  • Provided 46 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students an ASBA in Certificate II and Certificate III courses.
  • Through the ACT Youth Commitment implemented the ACT Career and Transition Framework to provide a comprehensive approach to supporting young people in managing career and transition processes.
  • Established supported work experience placements for year 9 and 10 students with disability attending public schools.
  • Established the Learning Capital Council (LCC) to support greater integration of the ACT tertiary education system and promotion of ACT education locally, nationally and internationally

Leadership and Corporate Development

Empowering local schools

Photo of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, pictured with Principal Gai Beecher, visited Gungahlin College to hear the benefits of empowering principals in running autonomous schools.
Empowering ACT schools allowed principals greater flexibility to select, build and manage high performing teaching teams and provided greater transparency in resource allocation. Prime Minister Julia Gillard, pictured with Gai Beecher, visited Gungahlin College to hear the benefits of empowering principals in running autonomous schools.
  • Empowering ACT (eACT) schools are contributing to the national empowerment agenda through the Empowering Local Schools National Partnership. Twenty-three schools participated in 2011-12.
  • Recruitment of over 80 staff members occurred using local area selection. Selection fields demonstrated a breadth of applicants from overseas, interstate and the non government sector.
  • eACT schools undertook school based recruitment in 2012, with teacher applicants able to apply to the school of their choice.
  • Schools were provided with training, resources and online systems to support decision making.

Leadership and Corporate Development

Strengthening leadership and system support

Photo of Ms Feyi Akindoyeni delivering a keynote speech on 'Message matters—now more than ever' at the iLead Conference in May 2012. Feyi Akindoyeni is a corporate strategist with experience in market and social research, and marketing strategy specialising in the education, youth and IT sectors.
Attracting, retaining and developing our leaders, teachers and support staff are critical for a high performing system. In the picture Ms Feyi Akindoyeni is delivering a keynote speech on 'Message matters—now more than ever' at the iLead Conference in May 2012.
  • Launched the ACT School Leadership Strategy, our commitment to building and maintaining leadership capability in every ACT public school.S
  • Conducted the school leadership conference, iLead, in May 2012 which provided high quality professional learning for school leadership teams.
  • Increased pathways into teaching through employment and support of Teach for Australia and Teach Next programs.
  • Presented Recognition of Service Awards to over 1,900 staff members as acknowledgement of long service. Over 160 staff received recognition for 30 years of service, while five staff were recognised for 40 years of service.

Leadership and Corporate Development

Supporting respect, equity and diversity

Photo of Wanniassa Junior School students celebrating
As part of the ACT Government's Respect, Equity and Diversity Framework the Directorate values staff and students for their differences, experiences, knowledge, abilities and backgrounds. Pictured are Wanniassa School students demonstrating their commitment to the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence.
  • Commenced development of an action plan to support the ACT Government's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy. The Strategy aims to attract, recruit and retain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Pilot Refugee Action Support programs were carried out to provide assistance to refugee students to develop their literacy skills, improve achievement, participation and engagement in schooling.
  • Student summit – It's a matter of respect: Countering Racism was attended by 140 students and 60 teachers.
  • Clusters of schools in each School Network developed Reconciliation Action Plans.
  • Provided more than 400 staff with Respectful Workplaces training.

Major challenges

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

Closing the learning achievement gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and
non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students remains a priority, and a challenge, for the Directorate. One of the Council of Australian Governments' 'Closing the Gap' targets is to halve the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students achieving at or above the national minimum standard in reading, writing and numeracy within a decade. This is measured through results in NAPLAN.

In the ACT, a higher proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students achieved above the national minimum standard in NAPLAN 2011 in all tests and all year levels when compared with national results for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. However, a gap remained between the achievement of non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in the ACT.

As shown in the figures below, the gap between the achievement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in the ACT over the period from 2008 to 2011 narrowed for year 3, 5 and 9 students, while for year 7 students it increased.

Figure A3.1: Learning achievement gap in reading, 2008 to 2011

Figure A3.1: Learning achievement gap in reading, 2008 to 2011

Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, NAPLAN Reports 2008 to 2011

Figure A3.2: Learning achievement gap in numeracy, 2008 to 2011

Figure A3.2: Learning achievement gap in numeracy, 2008 to 2011

Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, NAPLAN Reports 2008 to 2011

The Directorate continued to implement the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Matters: Strategic Plan 2010-2013 (the Plan), with 2011 being the first full year of implementation of the Plan.  The Plan provides clear direction for closing the learning achievement gap and it is aligned with the Directorate's Strategic Plan 2010-2013: Everyone matters.

Actions in the Plan targeted at closing the gap included:

Taylor Primary School

The Taylor Primary School site was closed on Wednesday 14 March 2012 due to damage discovered at the school following heavy rainfall. Findings regarding the safety of the site from experts including an independent structural engineer indicated that school site should remain closed until rectification work could be undertaken.

Following the closure of the site, staff and students from Taylor Primary School were relocated to Namadgi School in Kambah. The relocation followed extensive consultation with Taylor and Namadgi families and community, including through regular community meetings organised by the Directorate. The principals of Namadgi School and Taylor Primary School worked closely together to ensure the relocation progressed smoothly and to minimise the impact on staff and students.

Namadgi School was able to accommodate all Taylor Primary School students in separate buildings. Taylor Primary School operates as its own community school whilst on the Namadgi site, until rectifications at the Taylor Primary site are completed.

The Directorate worked closely with the staff, students, families and community at Taylor Primary School to ensure they were kept informed, and that their needs were considered in the decision making processes.

The 2012-13 Budget provided $13.26 million over two years for the rectification and upgrade of the Taylor Primary School site. The project will also reconfigure the early childhood educational spaces within the school in order to increase the number of childcare places at the school.

The refurbishments of the site are scheduled for completion at the end of 2013. Classes are expected to return at the beginning of 2014.

Teaching Staff Enterprise Agreement

The Teaching Staff Enterprise Agreement 2009-2011 nominally expired on
30 June 2011. The bargaining process for a replacement agreement was extensive, with bargaining commencing in March 2011. During the bargaining process, and in support of its claim, the Australian Education Union (AEU) instituted protected industrial action in the form of stoppages on two occasions and a range of partial work bans.

In-principle agreement to a replacement agreement was achieved on 26 November 2011. The AEU withdrew the work bans following the in-principle agreement. Bargaining representatives continued to meet from December 2011 through to March 2012 to finalise the details of the enterprise agreement documentation.

In March 2012 an employee ballot was conducted and employees overwhelmingly voted to endorse the proposed ACTPS Education and Training (Teaching Staff) Enterprise Agreement 2011-2014. Fair Work Australia subsequently approved the agreement and it came into effect in April 2012.

The agreement delivered initial pay increases of five percent, to be followed by total increases of seven percent in subsequent years. For most classroom teachers this translated to an increase of nearly 15 percent over the life of the agreement.

A joint Directorate-AEU Implementation Committee is overseeing the implementation of the agreement.