B.3 Legislative Assembly Inquiries and Reports

The Directorate participated in two Legislative Assembly Committee inquiries that were completed during the reporting year.

Committee Report Title Date Tabled
Standing Committee on Education,
Training and Youth Affairs
Report 3: Report on Annual and Financial Reports 2013-14 26 March 2015
Select Committee on Estimates 2014-15 Report on the Inquiry into the Appropriation Bill 2014-15 5 August 2014

Report 3: Report on Annual and Financial Reports 2013-14

  • The Annual and Financial Reports of all ACT Government agencies are referred to the Standing Committees of the ACT Legislative Assembly for examination and report.
  • The Standing Committee on Education, Training and Youth Affairs Report made 20 recommendations. The Directorate had responsibility for five.
  • The ACT Government response was tabled on 4 August 2015.
  • Details of the Education and Training Directorate related recommendations, the ACT Government response and implementation are provided in the table below.
Table: Implementation status of Standing Committee on Education and Youth Affairs Report 3: Report on Annual and Financial Reports 2013-14
Recommendation Response Implementation status/outcome

1. The Committee recommends that, in addition to providing detailed updates and profile of the expected demands and performance requirements of the ACT Building and Construction Industry Training Fund Authority, that the Authority continue to give an updated account of the challenges facing its client industries, particularly in a time of changing building, construction and engineering activities.

Noted

The ACT Building and Construction Industry Training Fund Authority (the Authority) determines the training priorities required by industry in relation to each of the five program areas funded by the Authority, through its annual Training Plan, developed through extensive consultation with industry stakeholders.

The scope of the Authority's activities may also change in conjunction with the demands from the various sectors. Any key challenges related to training faced by the various stakeholder groups are accommodated within the annual Training Plan and captured within the consultation and reporting process used by the ACT Construction Industry Training Council and the ACT Electrotechnology and Energy Advisory Board, both of whom are engaged by the Authority.

6. The Committee recommends that current School Satisfaction Surveys be used to continually assess current issues and inform future delivery of ACT education programs. The Committee recommends that reports of the survey results continue to be collated and published with ETD annual reports.

Agreed

The School Satisfaction Survey is one element of data used for school improvement purposes. The instrument provides quantitative data indicating the perceptions of staff, students and parents about their experiences at the school. The survey results are used by schools to enable the Principal to guide school improvement in relation to their school plans. They are also used by School Network Leaders to inform their work with Principals.

It is the intention of ETD to continue publishing results in its Annual Report and on its website

7. The Committee recommends that in cases where student and parent survey results relating to safety in schools diverge, or differ; that these results be subject of close scrutiny by the ETD, and that the Directorate work with those schools where survey responses of students and parents significantly diverge, to ensure that steps are taken to understand and positively address the issues raised. The Committee considers improved parental engagement may help to address and resolve these issues.

Agreed

The instrument provides quantitative data indicating the perceptions of students and parents. As part of the core work of School Network Leaders, the survey will continue to be used as a key element to interrogate school improvement with school Principals.

8. The Committee recommends that the program for parental engagement continue and that ETD report progress on its implementation. The Committee also recommends that the experience and strategies developed in the course of the program for assisting and providing support to parents from vulnerable backgrounds be part of the Directorate's reporting process.

Noted

The Directorate is continuing to work in partnership with the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) on the Progressing Parental Engagement Project. The project commenced in 2014 and will be completed in December 2015, with three key deliverables.

In February 2015 the Minister for Education and Training, Joy Burch MLA launched a suite of resources designed to help parents and carers as well as schools and teachers to understand what parental engagement is, why it matters, how it works and how best to foster it. The resources include two publications - Education Capital: Progressing Parental Engagement and Education Capital: Defining Parental Engagement Report and Parent and Teacher fact sheets.

The recommended strategies developed in the program will be focused on ensuring inclusion of all parents including those from vulnerable backgrounds. The second half of 2015 will see the development and testing of a parental engagement survey for teachers and parents to measure parental engagement. This tool will be piloted across four ACT schools including two public schools, one Catholic and one independent school and will be completed by December 2015.

The ACT has also committed to participate in the Australian Government Parental Engagement project.

12. That the ACT Government consider appropriate research on child physical health and wellbeing to examine possible initiatives which could be adopted in the ACT and which could also draw on experience and strategies developed in other States and Territories.

Noted

The Directorate uses current evidence based research to support the health and wellbeing of students. The Directorate also has a wide range of initiatives and programs including partnerships in this area.

Working relationships have been developed with ACT universities that support ongoing access to current research and development of best practice. A current collaboration is supporting teachers to embed evidence based teaching strategies into the classroom, to mitigate the impact of trauma and adversity.

The Directorate is an active member of the National Safe and Supportive Schools committee. This committee works together to coordinate and promote the 'National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence.'

The ACT Government has a range of mechanisms through which it collects health data of ACT school students. ACT school students' health and fitness status is reported biennially in the Chief Health Officer's report. Annual statistics are available.

The Epidemiology Section of ACT Health collects and reports on the health and fitness status of primary and secondary school aged students in the ACT through several surveys including the ACT General Health Survey (GHS), the ACT Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (ACTPANS), and the Australian Secondary Students' Alcohol and Drug Survey (ASSAD). The GHS is conducted annually, while the ASSAD and ACTPANS are conducted every three years.

The Education and Training Directorate is working in partnership across ACT Government agencies to develop and implement programs that enhance children's health and fitness.

The ACT Public School Food and Drink Policy was released in 2015. The policy applies the National Healthy School Canteen Guidelines to the broader school environment. The National Healthy School Canteen Guidelines are based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Food and nutrition education in Canberra's schools is taught as part of the curriculum.

Schools are also engaged with programs to improve the physical health and wellbeing of children such as the Walk and Ride to School Program, It's Your Move, Kids at Play and Fresh Tastes.

Report on Inquiry into the Appropriation Bill 2014-15

  • The Select Committee on Estimates 2014-2015 examined the expenditure proposals contained in the Appropriation Bill 2014-2015 and the Appropriation (Office of the Legislative Assembly) Bill 2014-15 as well as any revenue estimates proposed by the ACT Government in the 2014-15 Budget.
  • The Select Committee's Report made 138 recommendations. The Directorate had responsibility for seven.
  • The ACT Government response was tabled on 12 August 2014, and agreed to 42 recommendations, agreed in principle to 13 recommendations, agreed in part to 11 recommendations, noted 60 recommendations and did not agree to 12 recommendations.
  • Details of the Education and Training Directorate related recommendations, the ACT Government response and implementation are provided in the table below.
Table: Implementation status of Select Committee on Estimates 2014-2015 Report on Inquiry into the Appropriation Bill 2014-15
Recommendation Response Implementation status/outcome

19. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government establish a full time arts office embedded in the Education Directorate

Not Agreed

The Education and Training Directorate continues to work in partnership with a range of arts organisations and stakeholders including artsACT to enhance the provision of arts programs in Canberra public schools.

22. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government review the availability and need for adult ESL education for women, with a particular focus on places and funding, child-care and any other support required with a view to increasing participation and report to the Assembly by November 2014.

Noted

The Education and Training Directorate along with the Canberra Institute of Technology will consider the availability and need for adult ESL education for adult women. This information will be considered in developing ETD and CIT funded initiatives

27. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government detail to the Legislative Assembly by the last sitting day of October 2014 how it will address and fund the issue of youth and young people's mental health in our education system particularly detailing the cross-sectoral approach that will be undertaken.

Noted

The Directorate utilised a three tiered response strategy to the support and improvement of mental health and wellbeing of the children and young people enrolled in ACT public schools.

At the Universal level, social and emotional learning is used to foster positive interpersonal skills and positive regard for others. Social and emotional learning supports the cross curricular priorities of the Australian Curriculum, particularly in the areas of self-awareness, self-management and social awareness. Each public high school has a full time Pastoral Care Coordinator (executive teacher) and youth support worker (ASO4) who are responsible for monitoring the wellbeing of students in the school and designing programs that meet the mental health and wellbeing needs of the school community.

The ACT Government provides grants of $10,000 to all ACT schools (public, independent or systemic) to implement the Mindmatters or Kidsmatter frameworks. An additional $5,000 grant is provided to schools who achieve MindMatters or KidsMatter accreditation to support the ongoing development of mental health initiatives in the school. MindMatters and KidsMatter are national mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention initiatives. They are universal approaches and aim to build the capacity of schools to enhance the social and emotional wellbeing of students and staff. The initiative involves a resource kit (provided free to every school with a secondary enrolment), a professional development program and a dedicated website. MindMatters is managed by Principals Australia and employs project officers in each state and territory across Australia.

At the selected level, the additional and complex needs of students are met on a needs basis. Every ACT public school has access to a qualified and registered psychologist who is able to make assessments of the mental health status of students and provide support or refer students to external support agencies, such as General Practitioners, Canberra Adolescent Mental Health Service and Headspace. Each public school network has access to a Network Student Engagement Team(NSET) comprising of a Senior Psychologist, Behaviour Support Partner (executive teacher), Disability Education Partner (executive teacher) and manager (deputy principal). The NSETs provide expert advice, coaching, mentoring and professional learning to school based staff who are experiencing difficulties in meeting the behavioural and mental health needs of their students.

At the targeted level, public school executive teams and school psychologists are able to access extensive support from the Student Engagement section. There is a Targeted Support Team (TST) attached to each public school network comprising of a Senior Psychologist, Behaviour Support Partner (executive teacher), social worker and manager (deputy principal) who is able to provide case management and support to students, families and schools to best meet student need on a case by case basis.

Professional Learning:

The Trauma Understanding and Sensitive Teaching (TRUST) pilot project will raise awareness of the impact of domestic and family violence and support the understanding of how to respond to students who have experienced trauma and adversity. This is an innovative and evidence based project designed to improve the long term outcomes for students, and is a proactive program that will respond to the requests from the community for education to take an active role in the prevention and early intervention in the lives of children and young people who may have been exposed to domestic and family violence. The pilot program is based on the existing Trauma package developed by the Directorate's School Counselling Service that has been used successfully in ACT public schools to support school staff. The original training package topics included:

  • Understanding the Impact of Trauma on the Developing Brain
  • Responding to Students who have Experienced Trauma
  • Professional Self Care
  • Problem Solving with Students who have Emotional Difficulties
  • Problematic Sexualised Behaviours in Primary School Students

STORM Training:

STORM training provides evidence based, skills based strategies for school psychologists and school wellbeing staff to identify and respond to the needs of students who are at risk of suicide or self harm. School psychology and wellbeing staff are also trained in postvention to address the needs of the school community following incidents of suicide or self harm in a school community.

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

Network Student Engagement Teams staff provide a variety of professional learning to school based staff on the development and implementation of SEL programs and strategies that respond to the needs of school communities.

89. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government set out a timeline for the completion of the Belconnen High School Master Plan.

Agreed

The Master Plan was completed and received in September 2014, presenting three options.

90. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government undertake analysis of the projected need for schools infrastructure to meet increasing demand in West Belconnen and set out a timeline for the delivery of government infrastructure by March 2015.

Agreed in Principle

The Education and Training Directorate undertakes analysis of projected need for public schooling as part of its ongoing planning processes. This planning will continue to analyse the need for schooling in West Belconnen.

The timing of advice to Government, however, is dependent on input from estate developers, including private developers (in the case of Riverview) and the Land Development Agency.

Decisions on the delivery of new Government infrastructure in West Belconnen will be part of future budget considerations.

91. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government collect, maintain and report annually on ACT school students’ health and fitness.

Noted

The ACT Government continues to have a range of mechanisms through which it collects health data of ACT school students.

ACT school student's health and fitness status is reported biennially in the Chief Health Officer's report. Annual statistics are available.

The Education and Training Directorate is working in partnership across ACT Government agencies to develop and implement programs that enhance children's health and fitness. A range of programs are being delivered by schools under the ACT Government Healthy Weight Initiative that promote and support healthy lifestyles, these programs include Kids at Play, Ride or Walk to School, Fresh Tastes and It's Your Move.

93. The Committee recommends that the ACT Government increase annually the variable funding component of educating students with a disability at a rate equivalent to, or greater than, the Consumer Price Index.

Noted

The ACT Government is committed to needs based funding consistent with the National Education Reform Agreement.

For further information contact:
Director
Governance and Assurance

(02) 6205 9328.