Providing public education

Supporting increased school autonomy within a unified public school system

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

We supported a unified public school system – 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.

In 2020–21, 217 public school reviews were conducted following a six-month period of suspension from March 2020 due to COVID-19. Schools reviewed included 134 primary schools, 43 secondary schools, 21 education support schools and centres, 18 district high schools and one Kindergarten to Year 12 school. In September 2020, we provided schools with ‘The Standard’, a document that articulates expectations when reflecting on their performance.

Reviews are required for all Western Australian public schools. Following each review, a return timeframe of one, three or five years is determined based on the review and in the best interests of the school community.

Principals are expected to share the school review reports with their school communities and publish them on their websites or on Schools Online for a period of 12 months.

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 2020, we verified the audits of 40 public schools.

We continued to support school council and board members to fulfil their functions through the Linking Schools and Communities Program, which had 177 participants in the one day workshops for principals and chairs.

At the start of the 2021 school year, 615 of our schools were operating as Independent Public Schools. This included the 29 schools that successfully completed the development and selection program in 2020, commencing as Independent Public Schools in Semester 2, 2020, and a further five new schools that opened in 2021.

During 2020–21, significantly more content has been 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 2020, we began to establish – through an open market tender process – a panel to enable staff to access professional learning developed and delivered by external providers. While professional learning through external providers has been a longstanding element of the Department’s approach to professional development, the establishment of the panel, available from late 2021, will provide improved access to quality programs aiming to upskill and expand teacher capabilities.

The 2018 independent evaluation of our student-centred funding model outlined recommendations for refining the existing methodology. In response, in 2020, changes were made to the model’s methodology for the locality allocation and English as an additional language or dialect allocation. A working group has been formed to consider the evaluation’s remaining recommendations based on stakeholder feedback and current best practice.

In 2021, we increased the per student funding rates for schools with students in Pre‑primary to Year 6. This was to enable schools to appoint more teachers to meet the additional duties other than teaching (DOTT) time for primary teachers, which increased from 240 minutes per week to 270 minutes per week.

Our School Budget Review Committee provides a mechanism for public schools to seek additional funding during the school year. In 2020–21, nine requests for additional funding from schools were approved with $425,308 in additional funding allocated.

We provided 122 workshop and training sessions to 1,253 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.

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, providing increased flexibility and the ability to use local contractors. In 2020–21, projects worth just over $612,500 were successfully delivered. Schools were supported through targeted training and an online hub.

We signed a new agreement with Telstra to increase broadband capacity by an average of 20 times the current capacity for approximately 800 public schools, as well as other Department sites.

Upgrade work commenced in January 2021 and is forecast to be completed by late 2022. As at 30 June 2021, 318 schools had received bandwidth upgrades.

These upgrades will have a significant flow‑on benefit to regional communities surrounding the schools. The improved infrastructure by Telstra Wholesale will allow other retail telecommunications providers to offer improved internet services to businesses and consumers, particularly in regional Western Australia.

We provided 3,720 new notebook computers to teachers in 2020–21 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 7,800 teachers using a notebook provided by the program.

We addressed more than 198,000 requests by staff for ICT technical support, advice and consultancy in 2020–21, with 68% resolved at first contact.

On average, more than 180,000 teachers, students and parents used Connect, our integrated teaching and learning online environment, each month during 2020–21. In Semester 1, 2021, we provided more than 43,000 online classrooms for students and 251 schools provided parents with access to electronic versions of their children’s school reports through Connect.

Our asset investment program was $366.7 million in 2020–21.

This included completing construction on:

  • stage two of Yanchep Secondary College for the start of the 2021 school year.
  • stage two of Aveley Secondary College, delivered through the WA Schools Public Private Partnership (PPP) Project. 

Construction commenced for:

  • the new Piara Waters Secondary College (planning name), and stage two of Ridge View Secondary College and Bob Hawke College, all part of the WA Recovery Plan, to be ready to open for the commencement of the 2023 school year
  • stage two of Coastal Lakes College, delivered through the WA Schools PPP Project
  • major upgrades at Kiara College and Hedland Senior High School
  • new primary schools in Alkimos (Shorehaven), Burns Beach, Riva (Forrestdale South East) and Treeby (Banjup West), all to open for the start of the 2022 school year
  • the new administration building and fire remediation work at Broome Primary School, Gingin District High School and East Kimberley College, as well as administration upgrades at Falls Road Primary School and Hollywood Primary School.

Planning commenced for:

  • new schools in West Swan (Dayton), Landsdale South and Madora Bay, and stage two of Yarralinka Primary School, all to open for 2023
  • stage two of Hammond Park Secondary College, delivered through the WA Schools PPP Project
  • the rebuild of Hillarys Primary School
  • major additions at Derby District High School.

Construction was completed on:

  • the redevelopment of Balcatta Senior High School, specialist facilities at Mount Lawley Senior High School and an auditorium at Perth Modern School
  • Brabham Primary School, North Harrisdale Primary School (planning name: Harrisdale North), Pine View Primary School (planning name: Baldivis South), Yanchep Rise Primary School (planning name: Sunningdale) and stage one of Yarralinka Primary School (planning name: Southern River Precinct Three) for the beginning of the 2021 school year
  • the replacement Yanchep Lagoon Primary School for the 2021 school year
  • a new classroom block at Victoria Park Primary School, as well as administration upgrades at Booragoon Primary School, Brookman Primary School, Hampton Park Primary School, Kalamunda Primary School and Mosman Park Primary School.

Science laboratories in the remaining 50 schools in stage two of the Investing in Science program were completed.

The $200 million Maintenance Blitz program for maintenance and minor works in public schools was substantially completed in 2020–21.

An amount of $492 million was allocated to implement the WA Recovery Plan to be delivered over the 2020–21 to 2024–25 financial years. The capital works program will deliver projects across 67 schools. The larger projects are included in the information below.

Construction commenced for:

  • a new oval at Margaret River Senior High School
  • refurbishments at Balga Senior High School, Belmont City College, Como Secondary College, Duncraig Senior High School, Kalgoorlie-Boulder Community High School, Leeming Senior High School, Belmont Primary School and Maida Vale Primary School
  • redevelopment at Westminster Primary School
  • classroom additions at East Wanneroo Primary School, High Wycombe Primary School, Kingston Primary School, Malvern Springs Primary School, Mount Helena Primary School, Nollamara Primary School, Spring Hill Primary School, Wattle Grove Primary School, West Byford Primary School, Wickham Primary School and Yale Primary School
  • early intervention centre at Hawker Park Primary School
  • education support hub at Malibu School
  • education support facility at Pine View Primary School.

Planning commenced for:

  • major additions and upgrades at Australind Senior High School, Carine Senior High School, Joseph Banks Secondary College, Kalamunda Senior High School, Karratha Senior High School, Lynwood Senior High School, Pinjarra Senior High School and Willetton Senior High School
  • redevelopment of Roebourne District High School and Lesmurdie Primary School
  • performing arts centres at Albany Senior High School, Dianella Secondary College, Lakeland Senior High School and Warwick Senior High School, a sports hall at Ocean Reef Senior High School, visual arts studios at Southern River College and an Aboriginal Learning Centre at Swan View Senior High School
  • education support facilities at Canning Vale College and Lakeland Senior High School
  • refurbishments at Bunbury Senior High School, Eastern Hills Senior High School, Girrawheen Senior High School, Greenwood College, Harvey Senior High School, John Curtin College of the Arts, Melville Senior High School, North Albany Senior High School, Rockingham Senior High School, Wanneroo Secondary College, Belmay Primary School and Heathridge Primary School
  • classroom additions at Kyilla Primary School and Wyndham District High School.

Demolition of the old pool hall at Lakeland Senior High School was completed.

Minor works projects at a further 12 primary and secondary schools commenced.

Under Royalties for Regions, construction:

was completed 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

commenced for the replacement of Mount Lockyer Primary School.

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

The Department continued to prepare for participating in the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. We also responded to an initial Notice to Produce on 9 April 2021, working collaboratively with other public agencies to ensure information submitted was accurate and timely.

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 safe for children. We are a key partner in the development of a work plan led by the Department of Communities to implement these recommendations. We are also contributing to the design of an integrated oversight system across organisations that work with children.

We are – in collaboration with the National Office for Child Safety, the Australian and state and territory governments – developing a National Strategy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse. The strategy will be trauma-informed, culturally appropriate and reflect the needs of all population cohorts.

We provide ongoing support to schools to assist a seamless interface with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in our schools.

Nationally agreed policy reforms continued to be progressed through the Education Council and its replacement from 2021, the Education Ministers Meeting and subcommittees.

We negotiated one or two year extensions with the Australian Government to the following agreements which support the learning and development of children and young people:

  • National Partnership on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education, to the end of 2021
  • Schools Pathways Programme (Defence Industry), to 30 June 2022
  • Sporting Schools, to the end of 2021.

MoneySmart Teaching was extended to 30 June 2021 and incorporated into a new National Partnership for Streamlined Agreements.

We contributed to the State Government’s work in co-designing and developing WA’s implementation plan for the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

We developed a Multicultural Plan and submitted the plan to the Office of Multicultural Interests, as required. The plan, which will be finalised in 2021–22, 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.

In 2020, we started our Undergraduate Allied Professional Program that paid high‑performing Aboriginal university students to enrol in traineeships for 10 to 12 weeks. The program provided the trainees with experience in public sector roles and promoted careers with the Department.

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

Table 3: Ministerial requests processed 2018–19 to 2020–21

Type 2018–19 2019–20 2020–2021(a)
Letters 1,595 1,689 1,560
Briefing notes/advice 1,561 1,335(b) 1,406(c)
Answers to parliamentary questions 208 218 130
Cabinet comments 20 44 53
Contentious issues reports (average number of briefings per report) 10 (47) 8 (31) 7 (21)
Total 3,394 3,294 3,156
Percentage processed on time 94 87 89

Source: Strategy and Policy
(a) Caretaker period and subsequent time for new Cabinet to be sworn in affected number of requests.
(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.
(c) As budget is not being handed down until September 2021, briefings relating to the 2021–22 Parliamentary Estimates Hearing were not prepared in 2020–21. As a result of 2021 State Election, briefings for incoming Government are included.


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.