C20 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reporting

The Department monitored achievements made against the headline indicators in sections of the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2009 report. Achievements in this reporting period included:

  • An increase in the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in preschool with enrolments growing from 111 children in the February 2009 census to 164 children in the February 2010 census.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in the ACT continued to outperform Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in other jurisdictions in literacy and numeracy achievement as measured on the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy.
  • Six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students (two in year 12 and four in year 11) participated in the ANU Secondary College program in 2010. This was up three students in 2009.
  • In 2009, 41 out of 53 (77%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in year 10 in public schools were awarded Year 10 Certificates.
  • In 2009, 36 of the 45 (80%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in year 12 public secondary colleges were awarded Year 12 Certificates. This was an increase from 74 percent in 2008.

Early years learning

The February 2010 census showed that 164 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were attending preschool. Forty-eight children were enrolled in the Koori Preschool program.

The Koori Preschool program is an early childhood program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged birth to five years. Children under three attend with a parent or carer. The program has a capacity for 100 children across the five school sites: Ngunnawal Primary School, Kingsford Smith School, Narrabundah Early Childhood School, Wanniassa Hills Primary School and Calwell Primary School.

Koori children aged four, by 30 April, can access nine hours per week in the Koori Preschool program in addition to 12 to 15 hours in a local preschool program.

Koori children who are three years old by 30 April may apply for early entry into local preschool programs. Early entry gives these children access to 21 to 24 hours of preschool program per week (nine hours in the Koori program and 12 to 15 hours in the local preschool program) over an 18 month period prior to commencement in kindergarten.

Literacy and numeracy

In 2009, 141 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students across kindergarten to year 4 were supported by six Indigenous Literacy and Numeracy Officers. The officers were appointed to a school for a term where they worked to build classroom teachers’ capacity and model differentiation (learning models suited to Indigenous learners’ needs) to raise achievement levels in literacy and numeracy.

In 2009, 11 students were supported by the Indigenous Literacy and Numeracy Transition Officer in making the transition from year 6 to year 7.

School leadership in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education

During the reporting period, the focus of the Accepting the Challenge leadership program was ‘What do leaders need to know, do and feel to support successful outcomes of Indigenous children and young people?’ Two school leader conferences, held in semester 1 2009, included intensive input by Aboriginal guest presenters and set the scene for a range of new strategies and programs, and teacher-based inquiry programs throughout 2009-10.

Targeted professional learning presentations and staff surveys, full-day presentations and strategic planning sessions with school executive teams supported leaders, school clusters and sections of the Department. A leadership workshop for all school Pastoral Care Coordinators, the facilitation of a full-day professional learning program for the staff of a secondary college and a Leadership breakfast in NAIDOC week with an Aboriginal media presenter were new areas of influence for the program.

In 2009, 27 representatives from 22 public schools participated in the classroom teacher- based inquiry programs into what works in improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education, led by Professor Tony Shaddock. In 2010, 12 schools and two central office sections are being further supported to undertake training with Professor Shaddock. Activities focused on a diverse range of topics including identity, transition from primary to high school, curriculum, and community involvement. Outcomes of this program were identification of latest trends in practitioner- based enquiry and contemporary approaches to action research and reflective practice.

In March 2010, 30 participants from 18 public primary schools participated in a sharing practice seminar led by three primary school leadership teams. The teams outlined the strategies that led to changed practice and improved outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in their schools. This seminar was used as a springboard to engage a more diverse group of school leaders of public schools in reflecting on current school practice and outcomes, and developing more coherent strategic action for change in delivering education to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

In September 2009, six ACT public school leaders attended the inaugural Stronger Smarter Summit on ‘Successful Strategy for Indigenous Education’, organised jointly by the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Participants presented key research and messages to a Primary Principals Forum in October 2009.

Links with ACT organisations were further developed with leadership programs being presented in conjunction with Dare to Lead, Principals Australia, the National Library of Australia Indigenous Literacy Program and the National Museum of Australia.

National recognition for Indigenous education

Wanniassa School won a major national award for its leadership and achievement in the education of Indigenous students. As national winner of the High Achievement Schools category of the Dare to Lead Excellence in Leadership in Indigenous Education Awards, they received a commemorative plaque and $5,000.

Waniassa School principal Karin Nargorka (right) is joined by Catherine O’Sullivan from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (left) and Professor Jeannie Herbert from Charles Sturt University in receiving her school’s Dare to Lead award

Wanniassa is a preschool to year 10 school. Thirty-nine of the 570 students are Indigenous and the Koori preschool caters for 15 to 20 Indigenous three and four year olds.

The school completed a Reconciliation Action Plan in 2009, which was launched by Professor Mick Dodson. It hosts the Proud and Positive Reading Program for students from years 3 to 8, which is designed to support parents in helping their children to read. The senior campus has an Elder-in-Residence program funded by the Schools as Communities project. All teachers make Indigenous education a priority and develop appropriate units of work so that Indigenous perspectives and content are included in a range of curriculum areas across all year levels.

The school attributes a range of key factors to reducing the absenteeism of Indigenous students by half over the past four years; values education program on the junior campus; a friendly and safe environment; high expectations from teachers for educational learning outcomes of all students and a positive learning environment where students come to school because they want to.

Pathways to training, employment and higher education

Improving year 12 completion rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students is a key goal for the Department. The Indigenous Student Aspiration Officers work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to support them in successful completion of secondary school and progressing to higher education, training and employment options. In 2009-10, Aspirations Coordinators identified and worked with 120 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from years 5 to 12.

In 2009, 36 of the 45 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in year 12 public secondary colleges achieved a Year 12 Certificate.

Table C20.1: Year 12 results of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, 2009


Qualification

Number of students

Year 12 Certificate

36

Year 12 Certificate and VET Certificate

6

VET Certificate but no Year 12 Certificate

1

Neither Year 12 nor VET Certificate

1

Source: Department of Education and Training, unpublished

In 2009, 10 of the 403 students who commenced an Australian School-based Apprenticeships (ASBA) in the ACT identified as being either Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. This was the largest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ASBA commencements since 2001. Table C20.2 indicates the number of students who achieved certification in four industry areas.

Table C20.2: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student qualification attainment through Australian School- based Apprenticeship by industry, 2009


Qualification

Male students

Female students

General Construction II

7

0

Horticulture II

1

0

Automotive II

1

0

Retail II

0

1

Source: ACT Department of Education and Training, unpublished

Links to national plans and policy

At its April 2009 meeting, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) announced a Compact with Young Australians and a National Youth Participation requirement.

On 2 July 2009 COAG agreed to a new Youth Attainment and Transitions National Partnership (the Partnership). The Partnership stimulates activity to:

  • increase the enrolment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in school
  • increase the number of 15 to 19 year-old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people without a Year 12 Certificate and not enrolled in school who are enrolled in a vocational education and training course
  • increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 20 to 24 who have attained a Year 12 Certificate or equivalent.

The Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs’ National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan recommends national, state and territory targets for 2010 towards closing the learning and achievement gaps for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

During the reporting period, the Department participated in the development of the action plan which included focused effort in the following areas: readiness for school; engagement and connections; attendance; literacy and numeracy; leadership; quality teaching and workforce development; and pathways to real post school options.

Further to this, the Department is developing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy, which will form strong and consistent links to the national partnership agreements, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan and the Department’s strategic plan
Everyone matters. The strategy will assist staff in achieving improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The Strategy is expected to be finalised in the next reporting period.

During 2009-10 the Department progressed involvement in the COAG reform agenda and 12 schools throughout the ACT were identified to receive funding and support through National Partnerships.

During the reporting period the Department continued work on the development of a Reconciliation Action Plan. The Plan identifies measurable targets towards improving the following three focus areas:

  • improving the relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people
  • demonstrating respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • creating educational, training and employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Plan is expected to be launched in NAIDOC week in July 2010 and will provide a platform for the Department’s Reconciliation journey.

For more information contact:
Director
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education and Student Support Branch
Telephone: (02) 6205 7029

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