Providing public education

Supporting increased school autonomy within a connected and unified public school system

Supporting increased school autonomy within a connected and unified public school system

We supported a unified public school system by providing system‑wide governance, accountability and support structures, while empowering principals and their staff to act with greater authority and responsibility for the success of their schools.

Public school reviews provide feedback to school leaders, staff and the school community in all school contexts, to guide improvement efforts for the benefit of all students. They provide information to school communities about the performance of public schools in delivering high quality education to students. In 2022–23, 260 public school reviews were conducted.

The Office of the Auditor General undertook a performance audit on the Effectiveness of Public School Reviews, which was tabled in the Western Australian Parliament on 24 May 2023. We will use the audit findings to support ongoing improvement.

The Funding Agreement for Schools continued to articulate accountability mechanisms for principals in managing their school budget to meet the learning and wellbeing needs of students.

Schools with students from Kindergarten to Year 2 must complete an annual internal audit against the National Quality Standard (NQS) and may request verification of their audit to ensure consistent interpretation of the standard. In 2022, we verified the audits of 40 public schools, with directives to pause visits to schools in Semester 1 due to COVID‑19 restrictions having an impact on verification numbers.

We continued to support school council and board members to fulfil their functions through the Linking Schools and Communities Program, with 122 attendees at 10 workshops in 2022. The workshop is designed to assist principals and chairs to understand the roles and responsibilities of council or board members, and how councils and boards contribute to the success of schools.

In addition, 688 newly appointed public school council and board members attended 55 workshops delivered by a principal covering the essentials for a new council or board member.

At the start of the 2023 school year, three‑quarters (624) of public schools were operating as independent public schools, including 5 new schools that opened in 2023.

We continued to allocate funding to public schools through the student‑centred funding model. The model provides a one‑line budget to schools based on the learning needs of their students and the school’s characteristics.

The student‑centred funding model was strengthened in 2023, through the expansion of the educational adjustment allocation, to provide additional funds for increased resources to promote early interventions for students with literacy and numeracy difficulties and to improve explicit teaching in classrooms. This change to the model provided public schools with $8.5 million in further funding for more than 15,400 additional students in 2023.

Our School Budget Review Committee provides a mechanism for public schools to seek additional funding during the school year. In 2022–23, 12 requests for additional funding from schools were approved, with over $1.5 million in additional funding allocated.

We provided 101 workshop and training sessions to 1,573 staff as part of a comprehensive professional learning program on managing and monitoring school budgets. We also provided individual support for schools through online and in‑school sessions.

Our Direct to Market program, a previous election commitment of the state government, allows schools to directly source contractors for maintenance and minor capital works to the value of $50,000 including GST. The program comprises 35 project categories and provides increased flexibility to schools, including the option to use local contractors. In 2022–23, projects worth over $660,000 were successfully delivered across the state.

During 2022–23, a significant amount of content has been developed, improved, maintained, and made available through Ikon (Information and knowledge online), our customer‑focused intranet. Ikon supports the needs of staff by providing a single point of entry for finding the information and services they need to do their jobs.

​​​​​In 2022–23, we completed the work to deliver significant bandwidth upgrades to the majority of public schools and associated education facilities, such as hospital school services and engagement centres. On average, this provided increases of approximately 20 times the previous bandwidth, transforming the digital learning experience for schools. We also improved internet services to the majority of our very remote schools that are serviced by satellite. The project took the opportunity to completely refresh the firewall devices across our sites to significantly enhance our security position for the future.

These upgrades will have a significant flow‑on benefit to regional communities surrounding the schools.

We provided 2,585 new notebook computers to teachers in 2022–23 through the Notebooks for Teachers program. We continued to provide technical support services, access to a range of software applications, insurance and warranty cover to 7,717 teachers using a notebook computer provided by the program.

We addressed more than 131,000 requests by staff for ICT technical support, with 50% resolved at first contact.

Our specialist cybersecurity team was expanded and their work, in conjunction with existing security processes and technologies, has further strengthened our cybersecurity position.

In 2022–23, more than 309,000 teachers, students and parents used Connect, our integrated teaching and learning online environment. In Semester 1, 2023, we provided more than 39,000 online classrooms for students and more than 470 schools provided parents with access to electronic versions of their children’s school reports through Connect.

In Term 1, 2023, we launched a Connect Now mobile application to improve online teaching and learning for schools and to provide users with easy access to all their school information. Between March and June 2023, the application was downloaded by more than 300,000 users.

Our asset investment program expenditure was $513.4 million in 2022–23.

This included completing construction on:

  • stage 2 of Yarralinka Primary School
  • the new Landsdale Gardens Primary School and Dayton Primary School, which opened for the 2023 school year
  • an education support centre at Burns Beach Primary School
  • major upgrades at Hedland Senior High School
  • stage 2 of Hammond Park Secondary College, delivered through the WA Schools Public Private Partnership Project.

Construction continued on:

  • the redevelopment of John Forrest Secondary College
  • major upgrades and additions at Derby District High School
  • the new Madora Bay Primary School and Wellard Village Primary School, which opened for the 2023 school year
  • the rebuild of Hillarys Primary School.

Construction commenced on new primary schools at Hammond Park and Henley Brook.

Planning and design commenced on:

  • additional student accommodation at Anne Hamersley Primary School, Brabham Primary School, Caversham Valley Primary School and Harrisdale Primary School
  • new primary schools at Brabham East and Eglinton South West
  • upgrades to the administration and library at Fremantle Primary School
  • an offsite early childhood education centre at Brabham Primary School
  • additional student accommodation, including STEM facilities, at Ashdale Secondary College.

Work continues to deliver projects across 67 schools as part of the WA Recovery Plan’s $492 million allocation over the 2020–21 to 2024–25 financial years. The following information details progress on the larger projects.

Construction was completed on:

  • education support facilities at Canning Vale College and Lakeland Senior High School
  • an early childhood centre at Wickham Primary School
  • additional classroom accommodation at Kyilla Primary School, Lakeland Senior High School, Australind Senior High School and Wyndham District High School
  • facility upgrades at Rockingham Senior High School and Wanneroo Secondary College
  • stage 2 of Ridge View Secondary College
  • performing arts centres at Dianella Secondary College and Albany Senior High School
  • refurbishment of classrooms at Eastern Hills Senior High School.

Construction continued on:

  • additional classroom accommodation and a performing arts centre at Lynwood Senior High School
  • stage 2 of Bob Hawke College
  • stage 1 of the new Piara Waters Senior High School, which opened for the 2023 school year
  • redevelopment at Westminster Primary School and Lesmurdie Primary School
  • a sports hall at Ocean Reef Senior High School
  • additional classroom accommodation at Karratha Senior High School, Carine Senior High School, Kalamunda Senior High School, Joseph Banks Secondary College and Willetton Senior High School
  • upgrades to the performing arts centre and sports hall at Lakeland Senior High School
  • a performing arts centre with sports hall at Pinjarra Senior High School.

Construction commenced on the redevelopment of Roebourne District High School.

An investment of $424.4 million was allocated over the 2021–22 to 2024–25 financial years to deliver the 2021 election commitments, with projects across the following key programs: major build projects, STEM program, Secondary Science program, Primary School Science program and the Schools Clean Energy Technology Fund. The following information details progress on the larger projects and programs.

Projects completed included:

  • planning and design for stage 3 of Yanchep Secondary College
  • upgrades to education facilities at Beaumaris Primary School, Ellen Stirling Primary School, Morley Primary School and Upper Swan Primary School
  • science classrooms, as part of the Secondary Science program, and STEM laboratory upgrades at Bridgetown High School, Bruce Rock District High School, Cannington Community College, Clarkson Community High School, Cunderdin District High School, Kojonup District High School and York District High School
  • science classroom conversions for the remaining 2 schools under the first tranche and 34 schools under the second tranche of the Primary School Science program
  • solar system installation at 47 of 84 schools making up round one of the Schools Clean Energy Technology Fund.

Projects that commenced included:

  • stage 2 of Alkimos College
  • additional classroom accommodation at Baynton West Primary School, Mount Lawley Senior High School, Scarborough Primary School, South Bunbury Education Support Centre and Duncraig Senior High School
  • science classrooms, as part of the Secondary Science program and STEM laboratory upgrades at Applecross Senior High School, Baldivis Secondary College, Busselton Senior High School, Carnarvon Community College, Central Midlands Senior High School, John Tonkin College, Kalamunda Senior High School, Katanning Senior High School, Mindarie Senior College, Narembeen District High School, Northam Senior High School, Sevenoaks Senior College, Thornlie Senior High School and Woodvale Secondary College
  • major upgrades at Beldon Primary School, Clifton Hills Primary School, Donnybrook District High School, Gooseberry Hill Primary School and Redcliffe Primary School
  • science classroom conversions for the remaining 18 schools under tranche 2 of the Primary School Science program, bringing the total to 52 schools comprising 36 primary schools, 15 district high schools or community colleges and one remote community school
  • planning and works for the installation of solar systems at the 96 schools in round 2 of the Schools Clean Energy Technology Fund.

Planning commenced or continued for:

  • science classroom conversions under tranche 3 of the Primary School Science program for 51 schools
  • science classroom upgrades under the Secondary Science program for 5 schools
  • upgraded or new STEM laboratories for the remaining 10 schools under tranche 1 and 24 schools under tranche 2
  • the rebuild of Springfield Primary School
  • additional student accommodation or major upgrades at Albany Senior High School, Byford Secondary College, Darling Range Sports College, Dianella Primary College, Eaton Community College, Halls Creek District High School, John Curtin College of the Arts, Rossmoyne Senior High School, Camboon Primary School, Cassia Primary School and Illawarra Primary School
  • performing arts centres at Balga Senior High School and Warwick Senior High School
  • sports halls with upgrades at Kelmscott Senior High School, Melville Senior High School and Greenwood College
  • a sports hall and early childhood education classrooms at Roleystone Community College
  • upgrades at Edney Primary School, Kewdale Primary School and Huntingdale Primary School
  • round 3 of the Schools Clean Energy Technology Fund.

Under Royalties for Regions funding:

  • additional student accommodation is under construction at Baynton West Primary School and South Bunbury Education Support Centre
  • refurbishments are underway at Donnybrook District High School
  • design for classroom additions at Halls Creek District High School, Eaton Community College, Albany Senior High School, Baler Primary School, Cassia Primary School and Broome Senior High School continued
  • planning for upgrades at Tambrey Primary School and Dampier Primary School continued
  • stage 2 of the Solar Schools Program, in partnership with Horizon Power, saw the installation of photovoltaic solar systems at 8 schools in the Pilbara and 6 schools in the Kimberley.

Our commitment to responding to climate change continues. In 2022–23, we made progress in implementing energy efficiency measures in our schools, including the installation of solar systems through the $44.6 million Schools Clean Energy Technology Fund, and providing guidance for sustainable practices across our system.

Work is also underway to address recommendations made by Making Hope Practical: Report of the inquiry into the response of Western Australian schools to climate change tabled by the Education and Health Standing Committee. This includes incorporating climate change risk into our risk management framework and commencing energy audits at selected schools, the data from which will be used to inform a forthcoming decarbonisation strategy.

We continued to participate in the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. We worked collaboratively with other public agencies to ensure the information submitted and provided in evidence was accurate, and we responded to Notices to Produce within the approved timelines.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse made recommendations in 2017 that are directly or indirectly relevant to, or impact on, the operations of schools and the Department. In 2022–23, we continued to:

  • work collaboratively across sectors in a whole‑of‑government approach to ensure a coordinated and effective response to the recommendations that require national consistency, including addressing harmful sexual behaviour and the National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse 2021–2030
  • improve our response, at a state level, in order make progress against Department‑led recommendations to safeguard children in our schools
  • progress work to ensure compliance with the mandatory reporting legislation that sees an expansion of persons whose duty it is to report child sexual abuse
  • be represented on national and state working groups.

We provide ongoing support to schools to ensure a seamless interface with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), including consultancy for therapy provider access to students with disability. Following consultation with stakeholders, guidelines and additional resources to enhance the connection between therapy approaches out of school and at school were published in 2021. The guidelines and resources remain current and applicable.

Nationally agreed reforms continued to be advanced through the Education Ministers Meeting and subcommittees. These included the release of the National Teacher Workforce Action Plan December 2022, and changes to NAPLAN reporting as announced in February 2023.

We negotiated 4 new agreements with the Australian Government:

  • National Student Wellbeing Program (January 2023 to June 2028), superseding the National School Chaplaincy Program that expired at the end of 2022
  • Student Wellbeing Boost (May 2023 to June 2024) to respond to the impact of COVID‑19 on students’ mental health and wellbeing by providing additional one‑off funding to all schools in 2023 for extra resources and initiatives for students
  • Workload Reduction Fund, action 12 of the National Teacher Workforce Action Plan (June 2023 to March 2027) to pilot new approaches to reduce teacher workload
  • Scaling Up Success in Remote Schools Program (June 2023 to December 2026) to deliver successful elements of our Kimberley Schools Project in up to 10 additional public schools in outer regional or remote communities outside of the Kimberley with significant Aboriginal student populations.

Grant agreements were also signed with the Australian Government for various other projects and initiatives in specific schools, such as for the Sporting Schools program, Saluting Their Service Commemorations, and Student Science Engagement and International Competitions in 2023.

In December 2022, Australia’s Education Ministers agreed to a national review to inform the next National School Reform Agreement (NSRA). To enable the review, the current NSRA and associated bilateral agreement, which are due to expire on 31 December 2023, will be extended in their current form for one year to the end of 2024, subject to agreement from Treasurers.

We also coordinated or contributed to submissions on behalf of the state government to national reviews such as for the Australian Universities Accord.

Our Multicultural Plan 2021–2025 outlines key areas of action to assist staff to support all aspects of our cultural and linguistic diversity in the workplace and in our school communities. Of the 26 actions we committed to, 7 are complete, one is in progress and 18 represent ongoing activities. We continue to report progress on the actions to the Office of Multicultural Interests consistent with its reporting requirements.

We continued to prioritise accuracy and timely turnaround of briefings and responses to ministerial correspondence, parliamentary questions and Cabinet comments (refer to Table 3).

Table 3: Ministerial requests processed 2020–21 to 2022–23

Type 2020–21 2021–22 2022–23
Letters 1,560 1,741 1,437
Briefing notes/advice 1,406(a) 1,990(b) 1,949(c)
Answers to parliamentary questions 130 198 147
Cabinet comments 53 70 45
Total 3,149 3,999 3,578
Percentage processed on time 89 85 87

(a) This figure includes briefings for incoming government following the 2021 State Election and excludes briefings related to the 2021–22 Budget Estimates Hearings, which occurred in March 2022.
(b) This figure includes briefings relating to both the 2021–22 and 2022–23 Budget Estimates Hearings, and COVID‑19 Situation Reports.
(c) This figure includes briefings for incoming ministers in December 2022.
Source: Strategy and Policy