Government Schools Education Council

A. Transmittal Certificate

Government schools education council

B. Organisation Overview and Performance

B.1 Organisational Overview

The Government Schools Education Council (the Council) is established in accordance with section 54 of the Education Act 2004 (the Act).

The Council's functions are to advise the Minister on any aspect of the ACT public school system; and when asked by the Minister, to inquire into and give advice to the Minister on any aspect of the ACT public school system. Under section 66 (1) of the Act the Minister must present a copy of the advice to the Legislative Assembly.

The Council identified the following goals to be achieved in the 2014-15 year:

  • to maintain a focus on key strategic, higher level issues impacting on public school education in the ACT, including the curriculum requirements for senior secondary students, funding for public education and the review of pre-service teacher education;
  • to consider the continuing challenges of enhancing the image of ACT public schools and achieving both high equity and high quality;
  • to continue to meet with the Non-government Schools Education Council (NGSEC); and
  • to continue to actively engage in discussion with the Minister and provide advice on public education matters of importance to the Council and to Government.

The key issues considered by the Council in 2014-15 comprised:

  • the findings and recommendations from the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG) Report on Pre-service Education and the implications for the ACT;
  • the recommendations from the Board of Senior Secondary Studies following the review of the requirements for the award of an ACT Year 12 Certificate;
  • the ACT public schools Branding and Positioning project- promotion of public education and enhancing the image of public schools;
  • the ACT Government's Prevention of Violence Against Women and Children Strategy 2011-2017 and the role of schools;
  • strategies for enhancing parent engagement in education and the importance of parent involvement in student learning;
  • the proposal by the Minister to establish a new ACT school education advisory committee to replace the two existing councils; and
  • the proposed review of Vocational Education and Training (VET) in ACT schools.

The Minister for Education and Training met with the Council to provide a briefing on current national and local issues impacting on the ACT that the Minister wished to bring to the attention of the Council. The Minister responded to questions and feedback from Council members. The Minister also elaborated on her proposal to change the current educational advisory arrangements and establish a new body to provide expert advice on key issues relevant to three ACT school networks.

At the final meeting of the Council on 11 June 2015, members identified a number of issues relevant to the delivery of education they believe may be worthy of consideration in the future. These included:

  • examining the concept of digital citizenship, including best practice strategies for leveraging technology to improve online literacy and educational outcomes;
  • considering the ongoing translation, implementation and effectiveness of needs-based funding in the ACT and ensuring there are resources targeted for innovation and implementing best practice;
  • focusing on the value of participative, inclusive and safe school communities;
  • employing strategies to ensure ACT schools continue to be high performing, in particular, public high schools, including a review of Hedley Beare's Eleven Propositions, ensuring the use of evidence-based instruction in fundamental literacy and numeracy skills, and using data to drive meaningful change; and
  • ensuring policy decisions are mindful of the needs of vulnerable students and those with particular learning and social needs, using a joined-up services approach and valuing the creativity of students.

Internal Accountability

The Education Act 2004 (the Act) outlines the conditions under which the Minister may appoint or terminate the appointment of a Council member. As a statutory appointment the Standing Committee on Education, Training and Youth Affairs is consulted on proposed appointments.

Sections 56 and 57 of the Act state that the Council must consist of the Director-General and the Minister must appoint the following members of the Council:

  • the chairperson
  • six people who, in the Minister's opinion, have experience in one or more of the areas of business and commerce, public policy, early childhood care, education, the special needs of young people and teacher education (the community members)
  • ten people who, in the Minister's opinion, represent the views of public school education (the education members), comprising:
    • two education members chosen from nominations of the peak organisation representing principals
    • two education members chosen from nominations of the government teacher union
    • two education members chosen from nominations of the peak organisation representing parent associations of public schools
    • two education members chosen from nominations of the peak organisation representing students
    • one education member chosen from nominations of organisations representing school boards
    • one education member chosen from nominations of organisations representing preschool parents.

The Council met six times between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2015 including a joint meeting with the Non-government Schools Education Council in October 2014, to discuss matters of mutual interest. The key issue examined was that of strategies for progressing parental engagement in learning within the ACT. The discussion was led by Dr Stacey Fox from the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY).

Table GSEC 1: Role of Council Members and Number of Meetings Attended/Number of Eligible Meeting
Member Name Role Number
Mr Craig Curry Chair person 6/6
Ms Alexandra Tolmie Community Member 6/6
Ms Lynne Sheville Community Member 4/6
Ms Jan Tarbotton Community Member 6/6
Ms Debora Evans Community Member 3/6
Ms Misty Adoniou Community Member 3/6
Mr Adam Stankevicius Community Member 4/6
Ms Mandy Kalyvas Education member chosen form nominations of the peak organisation representing principals 6/6
Ms Indigo Strudwicke Education member chosen form nominations of the peak organisation representing principals 4/6
Ms Beth Dingwall Education member (ACT Gov Schools Student Network) 5/6
Mr Hugh Boulter Education member chosen form nominations of the peak organisation representing parent associations of government schools 6/6
Mr Roger Amey Education member chosen for nominations of the government teacher union 5/6
Mr John Darcy Education member representing Canberra Preschool Society 1/6
Mr Shane Gorman Education members chosen from nominations of the peak organisation representing principals 2/6
Ms Wendy Cave Education member chosen form nominations of the government teacher union 4/6
Mr Matthew Williams Education member (ACT Council of P&C) 2/6
Ms Gai Beecher Education member representing The Principals' Association 2/6
Mr Tim Kinder Education member chosen from nominations of the peak organisation representing school boards 5/6
Ms Diane Joseph Deputy Director - General 6/6

The Council provided a submission to the Minister for consideration in the development of the 2015-16 ACT Government Budget. Given the challenging fiscal situation for the Territory, the Council put forward one recommendation:

  • That funding is directed towards increasing the number of full and part-time training opportunities for high school teachers to further strengthen and enrich the range of education programs currently offered in ACT public high schools. This professional development to be developed by well regarded tertiary institutions, through cadetships, scholarships, or part-time or full study leave, and be targeted at teaching working in specialist areas.

During the reporting period the Council provided written feedback to the Education and Training directorate on the draft Bring Your Own Device Policy, the draft revised Safe and Supportive Schools Policy and the draft Reporting Student Achievement (Kindergarten - Year 12) Policy and the system reporting templates. The Council Chair attended the Board of Senior Secondary Studies Recognition of Excellence Ceremony to acknowledge the successes of ACT students graduating from public schools and the Round Table on Preventing Violence Against Women and Children. The Chair and other Council members also attended a number of briefings and official functions on behalf of the Council.

With regard to its legislated function - to advise the Minister on any aspect of ACT government education - during the reporting period the Council provided the Minister with comprehensive feedback and suggestions on: the draft Reporting Student Achievement (Kindergarten-Year 12) Policy and the system reporting templates; the promotion of public schools, including the branding and positioning initiative; and the Minister's position paper, Creation of an ACT School Education Advisory Committee. The Chair also met with the Minister on a number of occasions to update the Minister on the workings of the Council and to discuss current issue with the Minister.

Remuneration for the chairperson is determined by the ACT Remuneration Tribunal in accordance with section 10(1) of the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1995. The current determination took effect on 1 November 2013. The chairperson is the only member to receive remuneration.

The Council has no funds for which it is responsible, and therefore does not receive or expend funds.

The Education and Training Directorate (the Directorate) provides secretariat and advisory assistance to the Council. The Council may call on directorate staff to address Council meetings or meet with members to discuss particular issues or programs relevant to the work of the Council. If required, the Council would have access to legal advice through the ACT Government Solicitor's Office.

Council sought and received updates from the Directorate on:

  • The Branding and Positioning Strategy
  • The proposed Review of Vocational Education and Training (VET) in schools, and
  • The Report and recommendations from the pre-service teacher education review conducted by TEMAG.

All new members are provided with the ACT Government Boards and Committees Code of Conduct and asked to sign a Code of Conduct/Conflict of Interest Declaration Form. These documents outline expectations regarding ethical behaviour in order to satisfy standards of probity and accountability that apply to the public sector. These documents also provide information to assist members in identifying, avoiding and disclosing potential conflicts of interest.

B.2 Performance Analysis

Not applicable.

B.3 Scrutiny

Not applicable.

B.4 and B.5 Risk Management and Internal Audit

Council operations are regarded as low risk and the Chair has put processes in place to monitor identified risks. No risk mitigation activities have been required.

B.6 - B.9

Not applicable.

Remaining sections of Annual Report Directions not applicable.

For more information contact the Chairperson or the secretariat for the Government Schools Education Council (GSEC):

Mr Craig Curry
Chair
Government Schools Education Council
c/- Ministerial and Commonwealth Relations
Education and Training Directorate
GPO Box 158
Canberra ACT 2601

GSEC Secretariat
Ministerial and Commonwealth Relations
Education and Training Directorate
GPO Box 158
Canberra ACT 2601
6205 9444
detgovtrelations@act.gov.au