Director General’s foreword

Director General’s foreword

Photo of Lisa Rodgers, Director General of the Department of Education.

In a year like no other, we have been able to deliver high quality education to every student in all learning environments despite the challenges of COVID-19.

Our focus was always to keep our staff, students and school communities safe, but we never compromised on our commitment to quality teaching and face‑to‑face learning. Whether it was the wearing of masks, distribution of rapid antigen tests, the vaccination program or enhanced cleaning and ventilation, we ensured our schools were safe and open for our students and the community. 

It is hard to quantify the sheer magnitude of effort required to achieve this across our vast state but the collective contributions of our staff and communities to our response and recovery from the pandemic cannot be overstated. 

I want to publicly acknowledge our public schools and the critical role they play in the state’s response to COVID-19. The people behind the organisation – in our schools, in our classrooms – whose resilience, flexibility, and leadership kept schools open and students learning. 

We have learnt a lot through the pandemic and now, as we learn to live with COVID-19, there are some areas that need our attention; one of the most pressing is attendance. Restrictions around isolation and illness have directly impacted student attendance and indeed will continue to do so. We have also seen an impact on student mental health, wellbeing and achievement. We are focused on addressing these issues.

We continued to implement a range of wellbeing initiatives through election commitments to support students including additional school psychologists working in our schools and access for schools to chaplaincy services.

As an education system we play a key role in supporting students so they can enjoy prosperous outcomes beyond school and our focus on meaningful pathways for students continues.

Through election commitments, 70 specialised career practitioners were appointed to our secondary schools. They work with school leaders and industry partners to ensure students understand and are supported to access current and emerging occupations and careers. We strengthened our delivery of vocational education and training with funding for teacher and trainer industry work placements to ensure our students can meet needs of industry.

Our commitment to Aboriginal student wellbeing, engagement and achievement remains a priority and one of our more significant challenges. 

We are committed to creating a culturally responsive education system that enables all Aboriginal students to succeed. An important part of this is ensuring identity, language and culture is valued and included in the curriculum, and students experience teaching and learning that is relevant. Over the past year, there has been an increase in the number of students learning Aboriginal languages in Western Australian public schools. 

We also support our school leaders to build authentic culturally responsive schools with the ultimate goal of promoting reconciliation and strengthening Aboriginal student outcomes.

We continued our significant program of maintenance and capital works for public schools despite challenges faced by the construction industries and labour shortages across the country. We opened 4 new primary schools: Shorehaven, Burns Beach, Riva and Treeby for the start of 2022.

Strong and capable leadership has never been more important. Our leaders provide a steady hand and create the conditions for others to grow, connect and achieve. At all levels of the system we continue to build leadership capability for both now and the future. 

Once again, our staff demonstrated their commitment to the education and care of children and young people in delivering on our strategic directions for every student, every classroom, every day.

 

Lisa Rodgers
Director General