Providing public education

Supporting increased school autonomy within a unified public school system

Supporting increased school autonomy within a unified public school system

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

In 2019–20, we completed 165 school reviews, until reviews were suspended in March 2020 due to COVID-19. The schools reviewed included 126 primary schools, 11 education support schools and centres, three district high schools, 23 secondary schools and two Kindergarten to Year 12 schools.

The three-year review cycle is a requirement for all Western Australian public schools. Principals are expected to share the school review reports with their school communities and publish them on their websites or on Schools Online.

The Funding Agreement for Schools, introduced in 2016, 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 2019, we verified the audits of 39 public schools.

We continued to support school council and board members to undertake their functions through the Linking Schools and Communities program, which had 81 participants in 2019–20.

At the start of 2020, 581 of our schools were operating as Independent Public Schools, including our six new schools. In Semester 1, 2020, 29 schools successfully completed the development and selection process and will commence as Independent Public Schools in Semester 2, 2020.

During 2019–20, significantly more content has been made available through Ikon (Information and knowledge online), our customer-focused intranet. Ikon supports the needs of schools by providing a single point of entry for staff to find the information and services they need to do their jobs.

The 2018 independent evaluation of our student-centred funding model (SCFM) outlined recommendations for refining the existing methodology. In response, in 2020, changes were made to the SCFM methodology for the locality allocation and English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EALD) allocation.

The locality allocation increased for schools that are more than 200 km from Perth, providing additional support to regional schools in recognition of higher operating costs.

The changes to the EALD allocation methodology redistribute funding from students who are already proficient in English to those who are not. This includes extending eligibility to Aboriginal students and Pre-primary students and extending the funding period by a year for students who have not demonstrated proficiency in English.

We formed a working group that will consider the evaluation’s remaining recommendations based on stakeholder feedback and current best practice.

Our School Budget Review Committee provides a mechanism for public schools to seek additional funding during the school year. In 2019–20, 33 requests for additional funding from schools were approved with $1.37 million in additional funding allocated.

We provided 136 workshop and training sessions to 1,671 staff as part of a comprehensive professional learning program on leading, managing and monitoring school budgets. We also provided individual support for schools through online and in-school sessions.

We continued to address the recommendations from the 2017 Education and Health Standing Committee’s Inquiry into vocational education and training (VET) in Western Australian schools. From Term 3, 2019, schools were able to select from a panel of private registered training organisations to deliver VET at the school through an auspice arrangement using a standardised contract.

In collaboration with the Department of Training and Workforce Development and TAFE colleges, we conducted co-design workshops and consultations to identify strategies for improving the delivery of VET to better meet individual and industry needs.

Our Direct to Market program – introduced in 2017–18 and a State Government election commitment – allows schools to directly source contractors for maintenance and minor capital works, providing increased flexibility and the ability to use local contractors. During 2019–20, almost $2.04 million worth of projects were successfully delivered. Schools were supported through targeted training and an online hub.

The Department signed a new interim agreement with Telstra to increase bandwidth capacity by up to five times the current capacity for 677 of our 818 schools, as well as other Department sites.

At the end of 2019–20, work to increase the bandwidth capacity at 526 schools has been completed. The work was partially delayed in Term 2 as a result of COVID-19 and further bandwidth increases will be deployed, where possible, to the remaining schools during 2020. A further three satellite serviced remote community schools are being assessed by Telstra for fibre optic connection feasibility.

Due to limited regional carrier infrastructure capacity, our remaining schools are not able to gain access to bandwidth increases through this interim agreement. We will explore alternative solutions to increase bandwidth for these sites during 2020–21.

The Department is continuing the evaluation of the GovNext-ICT telecommunication Offer for Quotation.

We provided 3,680 new notebook computers to teachers in 2019–20 through the Notebooks for Teachers program. We continued to provide technical support services, insurance and warranty cover to 8,114 teachers using a notebook provided by the program.

We addressed more than 115,000 requests by staff for ICT technical support, advice and consultancy in 2019–20, with 70% resolved at first contact.

More than 277,750 teachers, students and parents used Connect, our integrated online environment, in 2019–20. More than 54,000 online classrooms provided students with learning opportunities in Semester 1, 2020 and 196 schools provided parents with access to electronic versions of their children’s school reports through Connect at the end of Semester 2, 2019.

Our asset investment program for 2019–20 was $428.2 million, compared with $416.9 million last year.

This included completing construction of stage one of Bob Hawke College and Alkimos College for the start of the 2020 school year. Planning has commenced for stage two of Bob Hawke College and major additions at Hedland Senior High School.

Construction was completed for stage one of Hammond Park Secondary College and stage two of Harrisdale Senior High School for the start of the 2020 school year. Both were delivered through the WA Schools Public Private Partnership (PPP) Project. Construction commenced for stage two of Aveley Secondary College and planning commenced for stage two of Coastal Lakes College, both also delivered through the WA Schools PPP Project.

Construction was completed on Beenyup Primary School (planning name: Byford South East), Caversham Valley Primary School (planning name: Caversham South) and Sheoak Grove Primary School (planning name: Baldivis North) for the beginning of the 2020 school year.

Construction was also completed on permanent facilities for students in Kindergarten to Year 6 at Grandis Primary School (planning name: Banksia Grove East) and an annex at Harrisdale Primary School opened for Kindergarten and Pre-primary students for the beginning of the 2020 school year.

Planning commenced for a new performing arts centre, and additions and alterations at Kiara College. Construction commenced for the redevelopment of John Forrest Secondary College and for stage two of Yanchep Secondary College.

Construction commenced for additions and refurbishments at Darling Range Sports College, a new sports hall and outdoor hardcourts at Wanneroo Secondary College, and new performing arts centres at Ocean Reef Senior High School, Belmont City College and Belridge Secondary College.

Construction also commenced for a new science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) building at Mount Lawley Senior High School, and a 700 seat auditorium at Perth Modern School.

Construction continued for the redevelopment of Balcatta Senior High School.

Construction was completed on a new performing arts centre at Ballajura Community College, upgrades at Morley Senior High School and Southern River College, refurbishments and additions at Carine Senior High School, and a new performing arts centre at Melville Senior High School.

Construction commenced for new primary schools in Baldivis South, Brabham, Harrisdale North, Yanchep (planning name: Sunningdale Primary School), and stage one of Southern River Precinct Three Primary School, all to open for the start of the 2021 school year. Construction also commenced for a replacement Yanchep Lagoon Primary School to be completed for the 2021 school year.

Planning commenced for new primary schools in Alkimos Shorehaven, Burns Beach, Forrestdale South East, Treeby and Wellard Village, all to open for 2022.

Construction was completed for a new Child and Parent Centre at Arbor Grove Primary School.

Construction was completed for new early childhood buildings at Attadale Primary School and Ballajura Primary School and replacement facilities for the International School of Western Australia at the old Doubleview Primary School site.

Construction was completed on a new administration building at both Weld Square Primary School and Warriapendi Primary School.

Construction commenced on a new classroom block at Victoria Park Primary School to respond to enrolment growth, as well as administration upgrades at Booragoon Primary School, Brookman Primary School, Hampton Park Primary School, Kalamunda Primary School and Mosman Park Primary School.

Planning commenced for administration upgrades at Broome Primary School, Falls Road Primary School and Hollywood Primary School.

Planning also commenced for a new administration building at Westminster Primary School to facilitate the school’s amalgamation with Westminster Junior Primary School.

Construction commenced for a new covered assembly area at Dowerin District High School and toilet upgrades were completed at 22 primary, secondary and district high schools.

Science laboratories in 51 schools in stage two of the Investing in Science program were completed. Planning commenced to provide science laboratories for the remaining 50 schools in stage two of the program (see STEM for further information).

Through the Playground Equipment and Shade Shelter Program, $1 million was allocated across 42 schools. Schools received grants of up to $25,000.

An additional $200 million was provided for the High Priority Maintenance and Minor Works program which will be used for maintenance and minor works in public schools in 2019–20 and 2020–21.

Under Royalties for Regions:

  • construction commenced for additions at Broome Senior High School and Bunbury Senior High School, and additions and refurbishments at Albany Secondary Education Support Centre and North Albany Senior High School
  • construction was completed for a new science block at Eaton Community College, a STEM centre at Newton Moore Senior High School and additions at Collie Senior High School
  • construction was completed for early childhood teaching classrooms at both Eaton Primary School and Flinders Park Primary School, an early intervention centre at Glen Huon Primary School, and early learning and general teaching classrooms at South Bunbury Primary School
  • construction was also completed for stage two at Cape Naturaliste College and Margaret River Senior High School and stage three at Carnarvon Community College.

Construction commenced for additions and alterations at Moora Residential College, funded through the Australian Government’s Community Development Grants Programme.


View a time lapse of the construction of Bob Hawke College, the new secondary college which opened in Subiaco for the beginning of Term 1, 2020.


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.

We are working collaboratively across sectors in a whole of government approach which includes working with the Australian and state and territory governments to ensure a coordinated and effective approach to the recommendations that require national consistency.

Work at a state level includes addressing recommendations for ensuring schools are child safe. We are a key partner in the development of a work plan led by the Department of Communities to implement these recommendations. The plan articulates the roles and responsibilities, deliverables, priorities, timeframes, sequencing and resource implications.

We also established a team to lead the Department’s participation in the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. The team will respond to Notices to Produce (none were received in 2019–20) and is working collaboratively with other public agencies in a whole of government approach, led by the Department of Communities.

We continued to support the application of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in our schools.

In 2019–20, we continued to contribute to nationally agreed policy initiatives and provided strategic advice to support key national decision‑making forums, including the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Education Council and the Australian Education Senior Officials Committee (AESOC).

In December 2019, COAG Education Council approved a new national declaration on educational goals for all young Australians. The Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration builds on the impact of the 2008 Melbourne Declaration and sets out the vision for education in Australia and the commitment to improving educational outcomes for young Australians.

Agreements were negotiated with the Australian Government for the implementation of national programs or the extension of initiatives, including the National Partnership on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education, Sponsorship Grants for Student Science Engagement and International Competitions, the Australian Early Development Census, Local Schools Community Fund, Communities Environment Program, and the Sporting Schools Program. These agreements provided targeted funding to complement existing programs that support the learning and development of children and young people.

We continued to prioritise accuracy and timely turnaround of briefings and responses to Ministerial letters, Parliamentary questions and Cabinet comments (see Table 2).

Table 2: Ministerial requests processed 2017–18 to 2019–20
Type 2017–18 2018–19 2019–20
Letters 1,701 1,595 1,689
Briefing notes/advice 1,476(a) 1,561 1,335(b)
Answers to Parliamentary questions 262 208 218
Cabinet comments 29 20 44
Contentious issues reports (average number of briefings per report) 11 (33) 10 (47) 8 (31)
Total 3,479 3,394 3,294
Percentages processed on time 93 94 87
Source: Strategy and Policy
(a) As budget was not tabled until 7 September 2017, two Parliamentary Estimates Hearings were held in 2017–18, affecting the number of briefings prepared.
(b) Due to COVID-19, the 2020–21 budget was not tabled in 2019–20. Consequently, the preparation of budget briefings occurred after 30 June 2020.


Explore the story behind the artwork in our strategic directions for public education in Western Australia.

Facilitate connectedness

Developing a network of connected, autonomous institutions and professionals, sharing excellence in the educational experience of students

This painting represents the networks of connected, autonomous institutions and professionals.

The lines connected them all represent the sharing of excellence in the educational experiences of students.

The green of the background represents the growth from these networks.