Director General’s foreword
Reflecting on the past 12 months, I am particularly proud of the exceptional work that the Department has undertaken in the delivery of quality education to young Western Australians, even in extraordinary circumstances. We continued to take great strides forward in our commitment to provide every student with a pathway to a successful future.
Student achievement and progress remained our priority. Throughout the year we have continued to focus on providing students with access to high quality learning environments, teachers, support staff and resources, no matter where they live in Western Australia.
Strengthening support for teaching and learning excellence in every classroom has been paramount. We have developed and maintained a positive agency culture of collaboration, continuous learning, stewardship and excellence through the implementation of the Quality Teaching Strategy and Leading Cultures of Teaching Excellence program.
Our Quality Teaching Strategy, for use by all Western Australian public schools, set out our commitment to establish our shared understanding of what effective teaching is, so that we can continue to advance our efforts to ensure progress and achievement for every student.
To ensure all students have the best opportunity to be successful literacy learners, we commenced the implementation of the Phonics Initiative. This supports the development of student literacy skills from an early age, with a key focus on the evidence‑based teaching of phonics.
We kept Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) achievement above 80%. We also had more than 92,000 Western Australian public school students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 assessed in aspects of literacy and numeracy as part of the 2022 National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN). Substantially more of our students have proficiency in reading and numeracy skills than in 2008 when NAPLAN was introduced, and Year 5 Reading proficiency levels were at an all‑time high.
We implemented initiatives to support student wellbeing. We increased the number of school psychologists in line with the state government’s commitment to address mental health and wellbeing. We established the Student Wellbeing and Care Taskforce to provide advice and set clear expectations on effective approaches to student wellbeing and care across the Western Australian public school system.
In what was an outstanding collaborative initiative across agencies, we delivered the Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention training to 1,035 public and non‑government school staff and other community members, in addition to mental health‑related programs for public and non‑government school secondary students.
We have continued to provide high quality early childhood programs in our schools and progressed our connections with communities through Child and Parent Centres and KindiLink programs, encouraging more families to access the benefits of early learning.
As the prevalence of vaping became a national concern, we launched the WA Schools Anti‑Vaping Toolkit to help educate students, parents and school staff, through a number of initiatives, about the health risks associated with vaping.
In our commitment to keep our students engaged in school, destigmatise periods and ease some of the cost of living for families, we provided free period products to all Western Australian public schools with students in Years 7 to 12.
Safety of our students and staff continued to be a key priority. In February 2023, we published the revised Student Behaviour in Public Schools policy and procedures, with emphasis on the importance of creating safe, orderly, inclusive, supportive, and culturally responsive environments to enable students to fulfil their learning potential, while recognising that responsibility is shared by all members of the public school system and each school community.
Our asset investment program delivered 4 new primary schools and one new secondary school despite labour and material shortages, and despite an unprecedented shortage of qualified teachers and allied professionals, we fully staffed our public schools. As teacher shortages continued to challenge the world, a $12.4 million package was provided as an attraction and retention incentive to schools identified in our Regional Incentive Framework as experiencing significant recruitment pressures. This was a much‑needed intervention to address what has become an international teacher shortage crisis, and it’s working. We have more teachers staying in regional schools for longer.
Work continued to create an education system that is truly culturally responsive while also prioritising Aboriginal student wellbeing, engagement and achievement. I had the privilege of hosting ‘Education Conversations’, which included a series of engagements with Aboriginal families across our 8 education regions. These provided a culturally safe space for Aboriginal parents and community members to be heard. What these series have started has resulted in the continuation of conversations amongst school communities in our education regions.
In strengthening the cultural responsiveness of our system and to help Aboriginal students succeed as Aboriginal people, we offered principals an opportunity to participate in a Culturally Responsive School Leadership program. This program has been a powerful opportunity for our school leaders to enact our vision for a more culturally responsive school system.
Our education system continued to thrive and was enriched by the voices of our Aboriginal and community leaders. It was also enhanced by our Student Council, which was established in September 2022, with representation from all of our 8 education regions. The council played a significant role in providing a student voice across our system.
As I close out yet another wonderful year, I thank all staff who provided a steady hand and created the conditions for others to grow, connect and achieve. I look to the year ahead with expectancy and, while challenges are inevitable, I am confident that the education portfolio will continue to deliver exceptionally to improve student outcomes.