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B3 Legislative Assembly Committee inquiries and reports


The Standing Committee on Education, Training and Youth Affairs (the Committee) and the Select Committee on Estimates 2011-2012 (the Select Committee) conduct inquiries and prepare reports on issues relevant to operational and strategic functions of the Directorate.

The Committee finalised and tabled two reports relating to the 2009-10 financial year. The ACT Government responded to these reports during 2010-11. ACT Government responses to the Committee reports are available at http://www. parliament.act.gov.au

  • Report 3: Inquiry into the Educational Achievement Gap in the ACT, presented on 6 May 2010. The government response was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on 17 August 2010.
  • Report 4: Report on Annual and Financial Reports 2008-2009, presented on 6 May 2010. The government response was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on 24 August 2010.

The Committee finalised and tabled two reports relating to the 2010-11 financial year.

  • Report 5: Needs of ACT Students with a Disability, presented on 21 October 2010. The government response was tabled on 15 February 2011.
  • Report 6: Report on Annual and Financial Reports 2009-2010, presented on 5 May 2011. The government response will be prepared and tabled during the 2011-12 financial year.

The Select Committee finalised and tabled one report during 2010-11: Report on Appropriation Bill 2011-2012. The report was presented on 21 June 2011.

The Select Committee on Estimates 2010-2011 presented its Report on Appropriation Bill 2010-2011 on 22 June 2010. The Directorate reported the government response in the Annual Report 2009-10. The Directorate implementation is reported in this section.

Standing Committee on Education, Training and Youth Affairs

Report 3: Inquiry into the Educational Achievement Gap in the ACT

Presented 6 May 2010The ACT Government response to the Inquiry into the Educational Achievement Gap in the ACT was provided to the Assembly on 17 August 2011. The Directorate responded to 24 recommendations.

Recommendation

Response

Implementation

1. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government provide pre-service training or professional development for teachers in interpreting standardised testing results.

Agreed

The School Improvement Division offers professional development to all teachers in interpreting NAPLAN and PIPS results.

2. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government ensure that teachers are aware and able to access expert advice and services to support them in adapting their pedagogical practice to suit the different educational needs of their students.

Agreed

The Directorate continues to provide support for teachers in adapting their pedagogical practice through the Quality Teaching model (QTm). Whilst the QTm consultants have concluded their work, Curriculum Support Officers work across all sectors to increase teacher understanding of the elements involved in the QTm.

The Directorate has been supporting teachers through workshops and visits to schools to continue to differentiate curriculum content as well as pedagogy and assessment, to best meet student needs. The purpose of curriculum differentiation is to offer students multiple and varied avenues to learning in order to provide equity and excellence in the classroom.

Literacy and Numeracy Coordinators and the Field Officers have been in their schools for 12 months. These programs are proving successful and will be continued.

In order to support the needs of all students with high academic ability, including our most gifted and talented students, the development of a Virtual Learning Academy (VLA) is being investigated. It is envisaged that the VLA will provide an online integrated framework for differentiated educational provision to suit high ability and gifted and talented students.

3. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training provide to the Legislative Assembly an analysis of ACT NAPLAN results using comparable 2008 and 2009 NAPLAN data from NSW and Victorian urban schools.

Agreed in part

It is not possible to analyse ACT NAPLAN results against the performance of comparable 2008 and 2009 NAPLAN data from NSW and Victorian urban schools as the Directorate does not have access to NAPLAN data from other jurisdictions. Each year the NAPLAN National Report provides achievement data disaggregated by geolocation, providing comparison of the performance of ACT students to the performance of students classified as attending metropolitan1 schools in other jurisdictions. These data show that:

  • in 2008, 2009 and 2010 the performance of ACT students in reading and numeracy across years 3, 5, 7 and 9 was with few exceptions, similar to that of students attending metropolitan schools in NSW and Victoria
  • performance by ACT students in writing relative to the performance of students in NSW and Victoria has improved from 2008 to 2010, with ACT students achieving at levels similar to those in NSW and Victoria in 2010.

1 Metropolitan- Capital cities and urban centres with a population greater than 100,000.


Source: MCEECDYA Geographic Location Classification System

4. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training encourage schools to reflect on and respond to standard assessment results by quantifying and reporting on the qualitative measures used to support improvement in the achievement of their students.

Agreed

The ACT Government introduced mandatory requirements through the Education Act 2004 for schools to monitor, review and report school performance annually.

ACT public schools report NAPLAN results and discuss measures to improve teaching quality and student achievements in their annual school board reports.

5. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government provide Members of the Legislative Assembly copies of the response to the Report on the outcomes of the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Elected Body Estimates Hearings 2008-09.

Agreed

The ACT Government Response to the Elected Body Report was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on 19 August 2010.

6. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training establish cross-cultural awareness training options for ACT teachers and negotiate with the Faculty of Education at the University of Canberra for the inclusion of pre-service courses in Indigenous studies.

Agreed

The Directorate delivered a cultural awareness program to 214 school-based non-teaching staff in February 2011.

In June 2011 the first in a series of modules was delivered to principals and deputy principals as part of an ongoing strategy to support leadership in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education and cultural competency training.

7. The Committee recommends that further analysis be undertaken by the Department of Education and Training into the need for a specialist Indigenous language and creoles support program in the ACT education system.

Agreed in part

Whilst no Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages are currently within the eight languages supported by the Directorate, there is a project underway at Jervis Bay Primary School to investigate implementing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language program.

8. The Committee recommends that any programs or initiatives developed should be undertaken in consultation with ESL teachers and Indigenous educators and community leaders and that these programs should be funded independently of the existing ESL funding model.

Agreed

A project is underway investigating options to better address the literacy needs of refugee students in ACT public secondary schools. Aworking party has been established comprised of the Secondary ESL Executive Officer, ESL teachers from mainstream schools and the Secondary Introductory English Centre (SIEC).

9. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government ensures that multiagency funding arrangements do not have a detrimental impact on services delivered to disadvantaged students and, where required outputs are being met and continued funding is anticipated, the disruption and uncertainty of contract changes are resolved by the government in a timely manner.

Agreed

A service agreement has been developed with Therapy ACT for the provision of services to students with a disability in ACT public schools.

10. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government investigate options for expanding the Gugan Gulwan program to include Years 11 and 12 students.

Noted

In 2010 the Directorate developed a funding proposal with Gugan Gulwan for the provision of intensive literacy teaching support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in years 6 to 9. Gugan Gulwan currently has limited physical resources to expand the program to other years.

11. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training undertake a full review and assessment of the English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) profile in the ACT education system including a breakdown of the groups of students within the broader category and a clear articulation of the sort of supports these students are likely to need.

Noted

Current practice includes the identification of ESL students through eligibility criteria, ESL- moderated assessment tasks, and language performance ratings against an average English speaker for age and year level.

For students with minimal English language proficiency, the Directorate offers placement in the Introductory English Centres.

12. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training undertake a review of the funding model for EAL/D students with particular attention to the capacity of the model to meet the needs of the broader group of students identified by the profile review and whether targeted funds are able to meet all needs.

Noted

An ESL Audit was undertaken in 2010, with the report forthcoming.

A review of funding will be undertaken in response to the audit.

13. The Committee recommends that any reviews of programs, services or funding models should be undertaken in consultation with students directly affected.

Noted

The Directorate regularly includes students and their parents in reviews and consultations where appropriate.

14. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government undertake to monitor and evaluate the early childhood schools success in preparing students, particularly those at risk of educational disadvantage, for learning and enhancing the capacity of families to support educational engagement.

Agreed

The Early Childhood Schools Framework has been developed and finalised. Elements of data collection have commenced. Governance arrangements for the early childhood schools are under review.

Early Childhood Intervention programs provide playgroups and programs to support children at risk through disability and/or delayed development. In addition, children who otherwise would not be able to attend preschool are supported to attend through the Support at Preschool Program.

Five Koori preschool programs operate across Canberra, building cultural capacity, literacy and numeracy knowledge and skills, and providing transition support across the ACT for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from birth to five years of age.

15. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government, bearing in mind the outcomes of the evaluation, commits to extending successful strategies of early childhood education into other areas of the school system as appropriate.

Agreed

Design work has commenced for Franklin Early Childhood School to continue the Early Childhood Schools Framework model. The school is due to open in 2013.

16. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government work closely with the Catholic Education Office and the Association of Independent Schools to ensure that early learning and school transition advantages can be extended to all ACT students.

Agreed

The Universal Access Governance Committee (UAGC) has a broad membership of key stakeholders in early childhood education including the Catholic Education Office and the Association of Independent Schools. The UAGC met three times in 2010 and focussed on a range of issues to support the delivery of the universal access to 15 hours of preschool education initiative and data development.

Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) data was used to inform the rollout of universal access. In addition, the AEDI data has been used in schools to improve transitions and before school community supports.

The Community Services Directorate, under whom the AEDI champions operate, have implemented a number of programs, including a data users workshop, community forums in Weston Creek, Richardson and Belconnen, and a planned community forum on children's physical health and wellbeing.

17. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training facilitate forums on best practice in family engagement with student learning and provide resources to support teacher initiatives in this area of school activity.

Agreed

Low Socio-Economic Status National Partnership schools are continuing to work on parental engagement and are developing and trialling a variety of programs.

18. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training ensure that the diverse backgrounds and socio-economic circumstances of families are recognised as a factor influencing any family engagement strategies undertaken by schools and that schools are resourced to respond to the diverse needs of the school community.

Agreed in part

In 2010-11, $517,000 was distributed across all ACT public schools to support individual students from low socio-economic families.

In 2010-11, $221,000 was distributed to 15 schools that support the most disadvantaged communities. This funding is used for whole of school programs.

19. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training, in consultation with the Centre for Research on Education, Poverty and Social Inclusion, develop strategic indicators to measure the performance of the education system in meeting identified equity challenges.

Agreed in part

The Directorate and the University of Canberra established the Research Collaboration Group (RCG) which is co-chaired by the program leader of the Centre for Research on Education, Poverty and Social Inclusion.

RCG is working on a research program which will explore the methodology for developing, compiling and reporting performance indicators for the Directorate in meeting equity challenges.

20. The Committee recommends that that ACT Government provide details to the Legislative Assembly of how the quality teaching strategy will address the specific needs of educationally disadvantaged students.

Agreed

The Quality Teaching model (QTm) was introduced to all schools in the second semester of 2008. The model describes an approach to pedagogy that applies from preschool to year 12, across all learning areas. It is based on contemporary research, in classroom and assessment practice, as to what makes the greatest difference to student learning outcomes and specifically addresses the issues of equity and the closing of achievement gaps. Research by the University of Newcastle conducted in 2004-07, showed that the QTm approach to pedagogy did result in significant improvement in achievement for all students, including students from disadvantaged situations.

In 2010, a Quality Teaching resource kit containing background material, information, implementation ideas and other resources, was distributed to every school to enable them to continue their professional learning programs.

Introductory workshops for teachers new to the ACT and professional learning support tailored to specific needs of schools were run at the Hedley Beare Centre for Teaching and Learning throughout the year.

In 2011, professional development in the QTm has been a feature of the New Educators Support Program. Quality Teaching workshops have also been conducted to support teachers returning from leave and those in office-based positions. Curriculum Support Officers are continuing to provide support in the Quality Teaching model directly to individual teachers, teaching teams and schools.

It is anticipated that the Directorate will provide an update to the Assembly in 2011-12.

21. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government commission an assessment of how well targeted programs for educationally disadvantaged or at risk students are meeting social inclusion objectives and priority 5.3 of the Canberra Social Plan and that the assessment be made publicly available.

Noted

The Directorate, through the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy 2009-2013 continues to work to improve literacy and numeracy levels for all students.

Literacy and Numeracy Coordinators and ESL teachers in all primary and high schools, work with class teachers to support students requiring additional support. In-class support, as well as intensive support for students with an Individual Learning Plan, is provided. Schools with under-achieving students receive additional allocations to meet their needs.

22. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government advocate through COAG for longitudinal studies to be conducted as a means of expanding the national research base for quality teaching strategies.

Agreed

The ACT Teacher Quality Institute (TQI) was established under the ACT Teacher Quality Institute Act 2010 and commenced operation on 1 January 2011.

The TQI is working closely with ACT teacher employers, educationstakeholders and national bodies to implement professional teacher registration accredit teacher education courses and will lead the implementation of the National Professional Standards for Teachers including the certification of teachers at the highly accomplished and lead levels.

23. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government ensure that equity and need are given priority in Commonwealth – State/ Territory funding negotiations.

Agreed

The National Education Agreement has been established to pursue this agenda. The Commonwealth and ACT Governments have agreed to reform directions which address the provision of support to students with additional needs, reducing the educational disadvantage of children and integrated educational strategies for low socio-economic school communities. This agreement will also drive reform directions to 'Close the Gap' in educational outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, a key outcome as part of the National Indigenous Reform Agreement - which the ACT will pursue through the broadest possible spectrum of government action.

24. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training provide a comprehensive assessment of current methods and outcomes for meeting identified need in the education system and develop a coherent strategy in which all programs can be reviewed against the objective of improving the educational engagement and achievement of disadvantaged students and enhancing equity within the system.

Noted

The Directorate's strategic plan incorporates strong links to the current School Improvement Framework and national partnerships commitments to allow schools to incorporate the priorities and performance measures into existing planning structures. Under the broad theme of 'everyone matters' the plan notes the importance of better support and engagement with students, teachers and support staff, leaders and parents and the community.


Report 4: Report on Annual and Financial Reports 2008-2009


Presented 6 May 2010
The ACT Government response to the Report on Annual and Financial Reports 2008-2009 was provided to the Assembly on 24 August 2010. The Directorate responded to seven of the 12 recommendations.

Recommendation

Response

Implementation

1. The Committee recommends that the impact of reducing averageclass size on student learning outcomes be reported on in future Department of Education and Training annual reports.

Agreed

The Directorate monitors average class size annually.

Progress on reducing average class size and the impact on student outcomes is reported in Section A9 of this annual report.

2. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training investigate how parents without mobile telephones may achieve the same level of prompt awareness of student absences as those parents with mobile telephones.

Agreed

Schools are able to advise parents by phone and/or email if a student is absent following notification of an absence. These additional notification methods are supplementary to traditional methods of notifying parents of school absences which include direct phone calls and written notification. The Directorate will continue to examine emerging alternative methods of notifying parents without mobile phones to ensure all parents receive notification of student absences as promptly as possible.

3. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training provide data on the effectiveness of the SMS Notify System on student absenteeism rates in the next annual report.

Agreed

Section A9 of this annual report provides discussion of student absenteeism and SMS Notify System.

4. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training identify and implement best practice options for recycling used ICT equipment.

Agreed

The Directorate uses the whole of government disposal procedures which comply with international standards of environmental management, set by the International Organization for Standardization. ACT Government uses the services of the disposal broker – Capital Easy - to manage the recycling and disposal of ICT hardware. Additionally, Shared Services: ICT supports the Chief Minister's Computer Re-use scheme. This scheme allows for up to a maximum of 100 end of life computers to be made available for not-for-profit purposes each year. This was used by the Directorate during the implementation of the National Secondary Schools Computer Fund.

5. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government implement a whole-of-government e-waste strategy with an aim of minimising the environmental impact of ACT Government ICT equipment.

Agreed

Shared Services: ICT manages the disposal of IT assets on behalf of the Directorate. Shared Services: ICT has already implemented an ICT asset disposal process which meets the international standard for environment management systems. Capital Easy is the Shared Services: ICT broker for undertaking the disposal of these ICT assets. Capital Easy has a comprehensive approach to managing e-waste and minimising the environmental impact of ICT equipment.

6. The Committee recommends that, upon completion of industry consultation, the Minister report to the ACT Legislative Assembly on the ACT Government's proposal to address the weaknesses outlined in the review of the secondary college system.

Noted

The 2007 – 2009 College Business Plan was not renewed in 2010.In 2010 the ACT Minister for Education and Training released a discussion paper, Improving ACT Public High Schools and Colleges, inviting the community to contribute ideas to improve and energise the ACT public secondary education system. That consultation process culminated in the launch of Excellence and Enterprise: Advancing public schools of distinction in May 2011. The Directorate is now planning the implementation of the key directions contained within the Excellence and Enterprise framework.

7. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government quantifies the economic benefits to the ACT community of international students and monitor this benefit carefully against changes in the national higher education sector.

Agreed in principle

In May 2010, the ACT Education Services Export Strategy report advised that almost 10,000 international students make a financial contribution to the ACT each year of around $260 million, and make valuable social and cultural contributions to the ACT community.

Figures obtained by the Directorate from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations indicate that at March 2011, 8,949 international students were enrolled in a range of programs in the ACT, including higher education, vocational education and training, English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) and other, non-award courses.

Of these, 3,054 are new commencements which, when compared with all new commencements in 2010 of 3,122, indicate that the ACT has not experienced any significant falling away in international student enrolments.


Report 5: Needs of ACT Students with a Disability

Presented 21 October 2010
The ACT Government response to the Inquiry into Needs of ACT Students with a Disability was provided to the Legislative Assembly on 15 February 2011. The Directorate responded to 30 recommendations.

Recommendation

Response

Implementation

1. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training support the capacity for cross-sector dialogue and information and skills sharing on best practice in the delivery of disability education services between government and non- government education systems.

Agreed

This recommendation has been incorporated into the Excellence in Disability Education Strategic Plan 2010-2013. The timeline for completion is 2011-2012.

2. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training liaise with the non- government education sector to ensure consistency in the descriptors of educational services.

Agreed

The Cross-Sectoral Disability Education Steering Group has been formed and meets regularly. It is comprised of representatives from the public, independent and Catholic school systems.

3. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training confer with the providers and users of educational services to ACT students with disabilities regarding any proposed changes to service names.

Agreed

Common descriptors of education services are addressed as an activity of the cross-sectoral Disability Education Steering Group.

4. The Committee recommends that Individual Learning Plans should be developed as a formal benchmarking tool which will assist in the refinement of teaching strategies at the classroom level and be able to measure the level of success of schools in the delivery of educational services to students with disabilities.

Agreed

Changes to service descriptions are tabled at the meeting of the Disability Education Reference Group. Work has begun on the Excellence in Disability Education in ACT Public Schools Strategic Priority 3: the development of a parent guide to disability education that describes services, processes and policies. This guide will incorporate a clear description to providers and users the names and functions of all disability education services. The parent/carer sub-committee of the Disability Education Reference Group is providing advice on the content of this guide.

5. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training investigate, develop and implement a system of objective educational measures of outcomes for students with a disability that would allow teaching strategies to be refined and system level planning to be undertaken.

Agreed

The Directorate is engaged in the ACARA working group formed to investigate and provide input into the Australian Curriculum to ensure it reflects education outcomes for all students including students with disabilities. This working group meets on a regular basis. It is envisaged that the outcome will be a system of nationally consistent standards of student learning outcomes applicable to students with disabilities that will allow teaching strategies to be refined and system level planning to be undertaken.

6. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training investigate and implement a process by which general assessment outcomes for students with disability can be disaggregated in the results from key assessment programs such as the National Assessment Program (NAPLAN).

Agreed

NAPLAN results for students with disabilities are already disaggregated and used to monitor student progress where possible. Where standard assessment programs are not considered valid assessment instruments for students with a disability, it is anticipated that aggregation of achievement of individual learning plan goals will be used to monitor outcomes for students.

7. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government examines the proposal set out in the Review of Special Education in the ACT to adopt a broader definition of disability that is consistent with discrimination law and that the Minister for Education and Training report back to the Legislative Assembly.

Agreed

The Directorate will be represented in an across Australia trial of a national definition of disability consistent with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. The trial is anticipated to commence between July and August 2011. The results of this trial will be put before the Australian Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Senior Officials and the Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC) for endorsement. A report will be provided to the Assembly after endorsement from the SCSEEC.

8. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government review the ACT Discrimination Act 1991 to ensure consistency with the provisions set out in the Commonwealth Discrimination Act1992.

Agreed

The ACT Government made a commitment in the Canberra Plan to review the ACT Discrimination Act 1991. In addition, the Human Rights Commission recently provided advice on the specific issue of reasonable accommodation. While it is not certain in advance of the results of the review that it is necessary to amend the current Act to ensure consistency with the Commonwealth DiscriminationAct 1992, the Attorney General will ask that consistency with the Commonwealth Discrimination Act1992 be taken into account in the proposed review.

9. The Committee recommends that the Minister for Education and Training provide an explanation to the Legislative Assembly as to why the estimated average cost of providing education services to students with disabilities in mainstream public schools has not been subject to the same cost pressures as other service delivery costs and why the percentage growth in this cost between 1999 and 2008 is nearly half that of other percentage estimate average cost growth.

Noted

The total cost derived for this output class did not appropriately attribute the enrolment growth and the complexity of need of students with a disability. Some weighting of these cost pressures was attributed to output class 1.1 to 1.3.

In 2009-10 financial statements, the enrolment growth and complexity in need (output class 1.4) is appropriately attributed to reflect the true cost of special education in both the mainstream and specialist schools. The cost of special education is reported through the Directorate's annual report process.

10. The Committee recommends that a schematic representation of the definition and funding model used to allocate general school and specialist education funds in the ACT be provided to all parents and carers as a part of the documentation relating to resources available for students with a disability.

Agreed

Work has begun on the Excellence in Disability Education in ACT Public Schools Strategic Priority 3: the development of a parent guide to disability education that describes services, processes and policies. This guide will incorporate a clear description of the funding model used to allocate resources to schools for students with a disability and functions of all disability education services. The parent/carer sub-committee of the Disability Education Reference Group is providing advice on the content of this guide.

11. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training undertake a full review of the average cost associated with the delivery of education services to students with disability which provides better indications of:

  • Costs of developing individual learning plans for all students who are identified as having a disability
  • Costs of assessing "reasonable adjustments" in the delivery of education services
  • Costs of training and resourcing teachers to implement "reasonable adjustments" in the delivery of the current curriculum
  • Costs of maintaining Learning Support Units within mainstream schools.

Agreed in part

A tender process has been completed to contract the service of a consultant to provide a number of proposed models of targeted funding for students with disabilities in ACT public schools. The models will integrate the student centred appraisal of need and individual learning plan processes in order to align allocation of resources better with actual adjustments made in classrooms. The cost of each Learning Support Unit in mainstream schools is already known. However, there is frequently a significant adjustment in funding above the base funding to Learning Support Units dependent on the nature and mix of the students attending the unit that would make a simple average in this case invalid.

12. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training undertake exit interviews with students with disability and their parents or carers who move from mainstream to special schools to identify common concerns or reasons for student movements.

Agreed

The Directorate is developing a process, involving students with a disability and their parents or carers, to identify common concerns and/or reasons for students exiting a program, or moving from one program to another.

13. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training provide details in the Annual Report of the delivery of special needs transport services including:

  • Numbers of students accessing service
  • Numbers of trips per annum
  • Details of average and longest trips
  • Adverse events on transport services.

Agreed in part

Details on the number of students accessing the service and any formal complaints are provided in Section A9 of this annual report.

14. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training provide information at enrolment about all available funding programs which may assist students with disabilities.

Agreed

Work has begun on the Excellence in Disability Education in ACT Public Schools Priority 3: the development of a parent guide to disability education that describes services, processes and policies. The parent/carer sub-committee of the Disability Education Reference Group is providing advice on the content of this guide. The guide will include information about available funding programs that may assist students with a disability. The guide will be accessible to families prior to student enrolment.

15. The Committee recommends that as a part of the review of School-Based Management funding arrangements the ACT Government ensure that the quantity of, and processes established for allocating, funding for students with disabilities within government schools be clearly articulated and monitored by the Department of Education and Training.

Noted

The Directorate will report ongoing investment in disability education through the budget process.

16. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training consider ways to improve the understanding of disability education services as
a key indicator of administrative flexibility and responsiveness.

Agreed in part

Excellence in Disability Education in ACT Public Schools: Strategic Plan 2010–2013 sets the strategic direction for disability education. The Directorate will report against the actions detailed in the plan. Flexibility, responsiveness and understanding of disability education services will be outcomes of the plan. However it is not agreed that an understanding of disability education services is a key indicator of flexibility or responsiveness.

17. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government assess the best means of coordinating information sources for students with disabilities and their advocates.

Agreed

The Directorate is working collaboratively across government to implement the ACT Government Policy Framework for Children and Young People with a Disability and their Families. The Directorate has developed a Service Agreement with Therapy ACT for the provision of therapy services to schools and has as a priority to develop a Service Agreement with ACT Health. The Directorate continues to liaise closely with the Catholic and independent school sectors through the cross-sectoral Disability Education Steering Group.

18. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training review the timing of the Student Centred Appraisal of Need (SCAN) review process and establish a mechanism to ensure that the funding approach to allocate resources to students with specified disabilities will be focused towards maximising learning outcomes as proposed by the 2009 Review of Special Education in the ACT.

Agreed

A tender process has been completed to contract the service of a consultant to provide a number of proposed models of targeted funding for students with disabilities in ACT public schools. The models will integrate the student centred appraisal of need and individual learning plan processes in order to align allocation of resources better with actual adjustments made in classrooms.

19. The Committee recommends that the students' needs for inclusive technology be assessed as a part of the Student Centred Appraisal of Need (SCAN) process.

Agreed

The Directorate's Individual Learning Plan guidelines are being reviewed and will identify appropriate inclusive technologies in addition to other curriculum adaptations, modified teaching strategies and designated resources as important tools to support the achievement of student learning outcomes. The Excellence in Disability Education in ACT Public Schools: Strategic Plan 2010–2013 priority of developing an Inclusion Support Centre will embed Inclusive Technologies in the core business of all disability education consultant teachers.

20. The Committee recommends that Department of Education and Training Network Coordinators be required to report on the audit of Individual Learning Plans from schools in their areas and that outcomes of the audit process be detailed in the Annual Report.

Noted

Excellence in Disability Education in ACT Public Schools: Strategic Plan 2010–2013 Strategic Priority 2 outlines as a key action that accountability measures be put in place for ILPs by instituting an audit of ILP quality and implementation. The outcome of this audit will be shared with School Network Leaders and reported. The Directorate will continue to survey parents and carers about their satisfaction with the individual learning plan process.

21. The Committee recommends that the Minister for Education and Training review the use of consultants in government schools in light of the comments made in the 2009 Review of Special Education Services particularly in assessing the need for disability education consultants.

Agreed

Excellence in Disability Education in ACT Public Schools: Strategic Plan 2010–2013 Strategic Priority 1 has as a key action to reconfigure services for students with a disability in an Inclusion Support Centre. The Disability Education Executive Team is currently developing the concept of this centre. Consultant teachers will focus on building the capacity of teachers to support students with a disability in mainstream schools through the use of evidence-based teaching strategies and curriculum differentiation to support students' individual learning plans.

22. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training consider the need for a pilot program within the ACT education system for alternative class-room based disability teaching models.

Noted

The Directorate provides a range of educational options for students with disabilities including specialist schools, learning support units and centres, specific learning support units for students with autism and mainstream education with additional support. The initial round of funding to schools to develop innovative practices for students with additional support needs has been allocated and schools will report on the outcomes of these programs. A second round of grants will be offered later in 2011.

23. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training review the role of Learning Support Assistants with the structure of the disability education sector with a view to formalising the role; assessing the appropriate staffing ratios; providing initial training and professional development opportunities; and clarifying duties within the classroom in terms of maximising the learning outcomes for students with disabilities.

Agreed in part

Excellence in Disability Education in ACT Public Schools: Strategic Plan 2010–2013 Strategic Priority 1 outlines as a key action the clarification of the role of learning support assistants (LSAs). This will include developing a system-wide set of guidelines on appropriate roles for LSAs. LSAs are able to access formal qualifications in Education Support – Certificates III and IV, through the qualified Registered Training Organisations such as the Canberra Institute of Technology. Additional professional learning for LSAs is also offered regularly throughout each year by the Directorate. Schools have been encouraged to explore the use of LSAs in the classroom through the allocation of Innovative Practices grants. Schools will report on the outcomes of these grants.

24. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training, in reviewing the role of Learning Support Assistants, review the need for additional Indigenous Education Officers and Indigenous Learning Support Assistants to support the learning of Indigenous students with disabilities.

Noted

The Directorate has an employment strategy with a fundamental outcome to increase the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people including teachers and LSAs. Actions to achieve these are described and reported in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Matters: Strategic Plan 2010–2013. Excellence in Disability Education in ACT Public Schools: Strategic Plan 2010–2013 Strategic Priority 1 outlines actions to develop the quality of LSA provision, including improved skills and cultural competence through increased investment in professional learning.

The philosophy of the Indigenous Education Officer role has been to develop the skills and attitudes of all employees to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and not to target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers to work only with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Any consideration regarding a change to this approach would be made only after significant consultation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Consultative Group.

25. The Committee recommends that the Minister for Education and Training provide a statement to the Legislative Assembly on the outcomes of the service agreement between the Department of Education and Training and Therapy ACT and the effectiveness of this agreement in redressing the gap in services identified in the Review of Special Education in the ACT.

Noted

The Directorate has developed a Service Agreement with Therapy ACT for the provision of therapy services in schools. The Directorate will report annually against the performance measures identified in the plan to the Director-General and the Disability Education Reference Group. This report will be published on the Directorate website. Outcomes of the Service Agreement will also be reported through the Directorate's annual report process.

26. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government monitor the progress of the post-school options support provider (currently the House with no Steps) in providing planning supports to students with disabilities from at least year 9 and, if necessary, provide additional resources to facilitate early planning of post- school pathways for all students with disabilities.

Agreed

Disability ACT will continue to monitor the progress of the service provider through the provisions of the funding agreement. A joint governance group consisting of senior staff from the Directorate and the Community Services Directorate guides service development, including the implementation of planning practices, beginning as early as year 7. Disability ACT will continue to monitor the capacity of funded providers to deliver appropriate services to school leavers and re- assess resource allocation where appropriate.

27. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government ensure that the formula used to determine the allocation of funding for post- school options is based on the number of students graduating each year so that adequate services can be provided.

Not agreed

The funding provided to each student graduating from high school is based on the needs of the individual and not on a 'formula' based on the number of students graduating in that particular year.

The ACT Government provides support to assist young people with a disability who are leaving school and who cannot presently participate in full-time employment or full-time education, or may not be able to do so in the future.

To do this, Disability ACT offers two forms of specialist support for young people with disability leaving school.

Transitional support
The House With No Steps Transition Service provides school leavers who require time limited additional assistance to progress to their preferred vocation with information and assistance with planning and coordination. The Transition Service works with students in the final years of school (generally years 11 and 12) and support continues for up to three years after the person leaves school.


Ongoing support
This is provided to people with high support needs who require funded supports to undertake meaningful day time activities after they leave school.

Access to these services is based on an individual assessment of a person's support needs that are determined by interviews with the young person, their family, and their school teachers.

28. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training include questions about access and effectiveness of post-school planning on the annual parent satisfaction survey.

Agreed

The Directorate will include questions about post-school options planning in the annual parent satisfaction survey. The review of the Individual Learning Plan guidelines will include the requirement that all ILPs will include a transition goal. The survey of effectiveness of ILPs contained within the parent satisfaction survey will be adapted to include an element that specifically addresses transition planning including post school transition.

29. The Department of Education and Training provide details of the external linkages established, including type of organisations, and the numbers of students attending the post-school options expo in the Annual Report.

Noted

Excellence in Disability Education in ACT Public Schools: Strategic Plan 2010–2013 Strategic Priority 4 outlines actions for whole of government collaboration. The Students with Disability Post School Transition Joint Advisory Group co-chaired by senior officers of Disability ACT and the Directorate consists of members of those directorates, service providers, students, and parents. The group oversees the totality of services to support post school transitions. This group has as a major priority the enhancement of community support pathways.

The group will develop an information guide for parents on available pathways and will capture data about the relative use of these services, including attendance at the post-school options expo and its efficacy. The post-school options expo is one activity of a significant array of activities aimed at improving post-school transitions for students and their families. Incorporating the reporting of outcomes from the post-school options expo into a broader report from the group will provide a more complete picture of government and community links in supporting transitions to post-school life.

30. The Department of Education and Training assess the impact of the changed vocational education structure on the pathways available to students with disabilities.

Agreed

The Directorate has contracted the House with No Steps to provide work experience and social placement opportunities for all students with a disability in ACT public schools in years 9 and 10. This will assist students in identifying appropriate pathways to post-school life.

Students with a disability in the college system can access vocational courses on the same basis as students without a disability. The school is required to make reasonable adjustments to support these students. The two specialist secondary schools, Black Mountain School and Woden School also offer vocational options for their students. Planning for post-school options occurs through the Individual Learning Plan process and will often include integration of some aspects of further training. Prior to leaving school, students are connected with a range of service providers that can assist students to make a positive transition to post-school life. Senior managers from the Tertiary and International Education branch of the Directorate are key members of the Students with Disability Post School Transition Joint Advisory Group and assist this group in assessing the impact of changes in the vocational education structure on pathways for students with disabilities.


Select Committee on Estimates 2010-2011

Appropriation Bill 2010-2011

Presented 22 June 2010
The Select Committee on Estimates Inquiry into Appropriation Bill 2010 - 2011 provided a report with 47 recommendations on a wide range of issues. The Government response, which was tabled on 29 June 2010, agreed to 19 recommendations, agreed in principle to four recommendations, agreed in part to one recommendation, noted 17 recommendations and did not agree to six recommendations. Details of the three recommendations and their implementation for which the Directorate has responsibility, are provided below.

Details of the Government's response to the recommendations for which other agencies have responsibility would appear in those agencies' annual reports.

Recommendation

Response

Implementation

27. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training develop accountability indicators which can measure the views of the principle (sic) users of public education services- students and parents/carers.

Agreed in principle

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority is currently in the process of developing nationally consistent measures of satisfaction with schooling.

Once developed, the Directorate will consider adopting nationally consistent satisfaction measures as accountability indicators. In the meantime, satisfaction levels with public education will remain strategic indicators.

28. The Committee recommends that future budget papers include accountability measures and outcome targets for the Productivity Places Program.

Agreed

Two accountability measures for the Productivity Places Program have been included in the 2011-12 budget papers.

29. The Committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training and Corrections ACT partner to ensure the provision of adult education and vocational training packages which best establish opportunities for the restoration of detainees of the Alexander Maconochie Centre back into the community.

Agreed

The Directorate has commenced discussions with officers from the Justice and Community Safety Directorate and the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) who manage training to explore options for ongoing training models post the expiration of the current contract. This will include exploration of programs, and funding options, to maximise smooth transition from AMC programs to those offered in the community.


Select Committee on Estimates 2011-2012

Appropriation Bill 2011-2012

Presented 21 June 2011
The Select Committee Inquiry into Appropriation Bill 2011-2012 provided a report with 194 recommendations on a wide range of issues.

The Directorate has responsibility for seven of the committee's recommendations. The short time between the tabling of the Government response on 28 June 2011 and the end of the reporting period did not allow for progress to be made against the recommendations.

Recommendation

Response

114. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government advise whether existing Federal funding covers the full cost of NSW students who are educated in the ACT, and what negotiations with NSW have occurred.

Agreed

115. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government provide details of all initiatives to be included in the ACT Secondary Schools Innovation Fund and how it will determine priorities for funding the various elements.

Noted

116. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government advise the Legislative Assembly, of the timetable for the 'blueprint for action' in their response to the report.

Noted

117. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government consider including teacher subject area specialities on the teachers register established under the Teacher Quality Institute Act 2010.

Noted

118. The Committee recommends that, to respond to the shortage of qualified maths and science teachers within the ACT public education system, the ACT Government bring forward the introduction of the Teach Next initiative so that public school maths and science students are not disadvantaged by teacher shortages.

Noted

119. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government provide further details of how the $11.8 million allocation for "educational reform and provision of enhanced career paths for teachers" is to be allocated.

Agreed

120. The Committee recommends that the Education and Training Directorate partner with Tourism, Sport and Recreation to ensure better provision of continuing sports programs in schools for students with disabilities.

Agreed

121. The Committee recommends that, when the Bradley review is completed, it be tabled in the Legislative Assembly on the next available sitting day.

Noted

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