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Director-General's overview

As I look back over the achievements and challenges of 2010-11 it brings home to me that great social, economic and educational outcomes rarely happen by chance. They require a clear vision, appropriate resources, good planning, professional delivery and above all, hard work. This annual report details some of our achievements and the challenges we faced in 2010-11. It also looks at our plans and ambitions for the year ahead.

Dr Jim Watterston

Dr Jim Watterston

These ambitions include continuing to develop, retain and attract high quality leaders and teachers, building on existing high community confidence in our administration of education and vocational training services, and being innovative in implementing future reform.

Our focus will remain on the wellbeing and development of children and young people, guiding and supporting students to achieve their best, in addition to building and maintaining high quality learning environments.

Over recent years, ACT public schools have benefited from a significant injection of funding from both the ACT and Australian Governments. This funding has allowed for improvements in school facilities and infrastructure across the ACT. Major achievements during the year included the opening of Gungahlin College and Namadgi School. These new schools model teaching and learning for the new millennium and the initial success of these schools gives me great confidence for the future.

Increasing opportunities for early childhood education and development has been a priority for the Directorate. In 2010, a total of 13 schools have increased their preschool education from 12 to 15 hours per week—an increase of five schools from 2009. The 2010 Performance Indicators in Primary Schools shows the progress children can make as their confidence in mathematics and reading increases. Survey results continue to show very high levels of satisfaction from parents/carers and teachers in the performance of early childhood schools.

Both the 2008 and 2009 National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) results confirmed that the ACT public school system remains a high performing system with results for students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 being above the national average. The 2010 NAPLAN results further enhance our status as Australia's best performing jurisdiction. The mean scores of ACT students for years 3 to 9 in Reading, Writing, Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation, and Numeracy were above the national mean. In addition, the improvement in mean scores from previous results was particularly gratifying. Gains were made across all years and all domains. The results show that the various initiatives now underway, including the deployment of our School Literacy and Numeracy Coordinators, have already had a positive impact.

The ACT continues to have the nation's highest retention rate to year 12 and the highest proportion of 20-24 year-olds who have achieved a year 12 or equivalent qualification. These results are important to all of us because of the clear link that exists between educational achievement and individual prosperity. The most recent post-year 12 destination survey found that 91 percent of all 2009 year 12 graduates were employed and/or studying in 2010. Importantly, 53 percent were undertaking further study which is vital to our future national productivity, prosperity and success.

Whilst we are proud of these results, we are continuing to make better use of data to identify those areas where improvements need to be made. We are also keenly aware that some groups of students require ongoing focus. In 2010 we developed a funding proposal with Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation for the provision of intensive literacy teaching support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in years 6 to 9. We also established Student Aspirations Coordinators to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to support them to successfully complete secondary school and progress to higher education, training and employment options. Other important initiatives for improving educational outcomes are in the pipeline for 2011-12. I look forward to their successful implementation.

The ACT public school system has benefited from strong community participation together with the hard work and commitment from principals, teachers, students and staff in schools and the central office.

In 2011-12, the Directorate has a range of important budget measures to implement. These include implementing recommendations from the Review of Special Education in ACT Schools and the Legislative Assembly Inquiry into the Needs of ACT Students with a Disability, implementing the Excellence and Enterprise Framework for innovative, distinctive and engaging public secondary schools and providing enhanced career paths for teachers and school leaders. In implementing these and other initiatives we will:

  • continue to seek the views and input of parents and carers and other stakeholders to improve outcomes for Canberra's children and young people
  • strengthen evaluation and take an evidence-based approach to support the implementation of outcomes for children and young people.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the support of the Minister for Education and Training, Mr Andrew Barr MLA, during 2010-11. I also take this opportunity to pay tribute to my colleagues and staff in the Directorate and the statutory authorities for their commitment to excellence during 2010-11.

Dr Jim Watterston
September 2011