Director General’s foreword
As I reflect on the past year, it would be easy for our progress and achievements to be overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic and our need to respond. Whereas, in fact, the reporting year started with a significant piece of work that set our directions for the next five years. We embarked on a series of education conversations with school communities and stakeholders across the State that informed our future directions. Building on strength – our long‑term vision for public education – is exactly that. It builds on the strong position already established and the work being done across our system.
Sitting alongside is our strategic directions for public schools 2020–2024 – Every student, every classroom, every day – which sets out our aspirations for every student and our six key improvement drivers to ensure we work together to deliver meaningful pathways for every child. Meaningful pathways for our students may mean further education, training or giving them a range of career options, so ensuring we equip students with the skills and work capabilities for the jobs of the future is a priority.
We know the best chance a student has starts from the very first day a child steps into our schools, so our focus on every student, every classroom, every day, must remain a priority throughout their schooling.
We started the school year with another year of record student numbers and six new schools to meet the ever growing student population. We continued an extensive capital works and maintenance program to ensure the best learning environments and experiences for all students, staff and school communities. We progressed our work on our leadership strategy, and plans for school improvement.
Then the unprecedented. That’s the only word that adequately describes the extraordinary circumstances we faced as a result of COVID-19 that changed so many aspects of our lives.
We established our response team to support our schools through the pandemic and safety measures were put in place. Fortunately for us in Western Australia, our schools remained open. There were only nine days when parents were encouraged to keep their children at home if possible, and four weeks when parents had the choice whether to send their children to school, or keep them at home.
To support teachers, the Connected Learning Hub was launched, providing curriculum resources across all year levels. This was in addition to the Learning at home website, developed by education experts to provide parents and students with lessons that were in line with the curriculum. At the time of writing, there had been more than 1.3 million views of the website.
Our response shows the power and value of partnership in education. What we learned was schools became even more critical with an even greater role to play than educating children. They were sources of truth and information, and central to supporting student wellbeing during this time. In fact, schools went beyond supporting their students, to supporting their communities.
Our students and staff are to be commended for their courage, resilience and care throughout the pandemic.
While it is acknowledged that due to COVID-19 the delivery of some of our Focus 2020 priorities may need to be adjusted, our commitment to our key improvement drivers remains.
Seeing how we pulled together over the past six months, I now feel even more confident about the quality of public education being delivered to students in our schools.
This, coupled with the frameworks and strategies that guide us in our daily work, will stand Western Australian school students and their future in good stead.