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 were paused in March 2022 to enable schools to prioritise their response to COVID-19 to ensure continuity of learning for students. They resumed in the latter part of Term 2 with 174 reviews being conducted in 2021–22. Reviews are required for all Western Australian public schools.

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 2021, we verified the audits of 47 public schools.

We continued to support school council and board members to fulfil their functions through the Linking Schools and Communities Program, with 118 attendees at 22 workshops in 2021. 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, 1,095 newly appointed public school council and board members attended 81 workshops delivered by a principal covering the essentials for a new council or board member.

At the start of the 2022 school year, three‑quarters (619) of public schools were operating as Independent Public Schools, including 4 new schools that opened in 2022.

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.

Our School Budget Review Committee provides a mechanism for public schools to seek additional funding during the school year. In 2021–22, 5 requests for additional funding from schools were approved, with almost $454,000 in additional funding allocated.

We provided 105 workshop and training sessions to 1,656 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, providing increased flexibility and the ability to use local contractors. From July 2021, we increased the value of works allowed from $20,000 to $50,000 (including GST). In March 2022, we also updated the program, adding 12 new project categories to the program and modifying 5 existing ones. In 2021–22, projects worth just over $595,000 were successfully delivered.

During 2021–22, 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 2021–22, we continued working with Telstra on significant bandwidth upgrades to almost every public school, as well as other Department sites. As at 30 June 2022, more than 99% of the schools (and associated education facilities such as hospital school services and engagement centres) in scope have received bandwidth upgrades.

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

We provided 1,795 new notebook computers to teachers in 2021–22 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 7,860 teachers using a notebook provided by the program.

We addressed more than 130,000 requests by staff for ICT technical support, with 50% resolved at first contact.

A newly formed cyber security team was established to work in conjunction with existing security processes and to further strengthen our cyber security position.

In 2021–22, more than 318,000 teachers, students and parents used Connect, our integrated teaching and learning online environment. In Semester 1, 2022, we provided more than 45,000 online classrooms for students and more than 317 schools provided parents with access to electronic versions of their children’s school reports through Connect.

Our asset investment program was $430.1 million in 2021–22.

This included completing construction on: 

  • stage 2 of Coastal Lakes College, delivered through the WA Schools Public Private Partnership (PPP) Project
  • Shorehaven Primary School, Burns Beach Primary School, Riva Primary School and Treeby Primary School, which all opened for the beginning of the 2022 school year
  • fire remediation work at Broome Primary School, Gingin District High School and East Kimberley College 
  • a new classroom block at Mount Lawley Senior High School, as well as upgrades at Kiara College, Wanneroo Secondary College and Belridge Secondary College and a new performing arts centre at Belmont City College.

Construction continued on: 

  • the redevelopment of John Forrest Secondary College
  • upgrades at Hedland Senior High School
  • administration upgrades at Falls Road Primary School and Hollywood Primary School.

Construction commenced on: 

  • stage 2 of Hammond Park Secondary College, delivered through the WA Schools PPP Project
  • the rebuild of Hillarys Primary School
  • major upgrades and additions at Derby District High School 
  • new primary schools in Madora Bay, Wellard, Landsdale and West Swan (Dayton) and stage 2 of Yarralinka Primary School, all to open for the 2023 school year.

Planning commenced for new primary schools in Henley Brook and Hammond Park, both to open for 2024.

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:

  • a new oval at Margaret River Senior High School
  • refurbishments at Balga Senior High School, Belmont City College, Bunbury Senior High School, Como Secondary College, Duncraig Senior High School, Girrawheen Senior High School, Greenwood College, Harvey Senior High School, John Curtin College of the Arts, Lakeland Senior High School, North Albany Senior High School, Rockingham Senior High School and Wanneroo Secondary College
  • visual arts studios at Southern River College and an Aboriginal Learning Centre at Swan View Senior High School
  • refurbishments at Belmont Primary School and Heathridge Primary School 
  • classroom additions at Belmay Primary School, 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 and Yale Primary School 
  • a new early intervention centre at Hawker Park Primary School
  • an education support facility at Pine View Primary School and an additional specialist education facility at Malibu School.

Construction continued on:

  • the new Piara Waters Senior High School to open for the start of the 2023 school year
  • stage 2 of Ridge View Secondary College and Bob Hawke College to open for the start of the 2023 school year
  • redevelopment at Westminster Primary School
  • classroom additions at Kyilla Primary School and Wyndham District High School.

Construction commenced on: 

  • education support facilities at Canning Vale College and Lakeland Senior High School 
  • a new early childhood centre at Wickham Primary School
  • redevelopment at Lesmurdie Primary School
  • performing arts centres at Albany Senior High School, Dianella Secondary College, Lakeland Senior High School and Pinjarra Senior High School
  • a sports hall at Ocean Reef Senior High School
  • classroom additions at Karratha Senior High School, Australind Senior High School, Carine Senior High School, Joseph Banks Secondary College, Kalamunda Senior High School, Lynwood Senior High School and Willetton Senior High School
  • refurbishments at Eastern Hills Senior High School.

Planning continued for the redevelopment of Roebourne District High School.

An amount of $424.4 million was allocated over the 2021–22 to 2024–25 financial years to deliver the 2021 election commitments, with projects across 4 key programs: major build projects; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and 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:

  • 30 primary schools receiving a science classroom in the first tranche of the Primary School Science program
  • the installation of photovoltaic solar systems in Broome North Primary School and Roebuck Primary School.

Projects that commenced included:

  • 2 primary schools receiving a science classroom in the first tranche of the Primary School Science program
  • installing photovoltaic solar systems in 10 schools in the Pilbara and 18 schools in the Kimberley
  • seeking schools’ applications for the installation of solar panels as part of the Schools Clean Energy Technology Fund
  • planning and design documentation was completed for stage 2 of Alkimos College and stage 3 of Yanchep Secondary College.

Planning commenced or continued for:

  • 53 primary schools to have a science classroom established as the second tranche of the Primary School Science program
  • 9 secondary schools to have a science laboratory upgrade as the first tranche of the Secondary School Science program
  • 16 secondary schools to have STEM laboratories built or a classroom repurposed to form a STEM laboratory as tranche one of the program
  • construction of stage 2 of Alkimos College and rebuild of Springfield Primary School
  • classroom additions and major upgrades at Byford Secondary College, Darling Range Sports College, Duncraig Senior High School, Eaton Community College, Halls Creek District High School, John Curtin College of the Arts, Mount Lawley Senior High School and Rossmoyne Senior High School
  • classroom additions at Baynton West Primary School, Camboon Primary School, Cassia Primary School, Scarborough Primary School and South Bunbury Education Support Centre
  • new performing arts centres at Balga Senior High School and Warwick Senior High School and sports halls with refurbishments at Kelmscott Senior High School, Melville Senior High School, Greenwood College and Roleystone Community College
  • refurbishments at Donnybrook District High School, Clifton Hills Primary School, Edney Primary School, Illawarra Primary School, Kewdale Primary School and Huntingdale Primary School.

Minor works projects at a further 10 primary and secondary schools commenced.

Under Royalties for Regions:

  • the rebuild of Mount Lockyer Primary School was completed
  • additions are under construction at Bunbury Senior High School and refurbishments were completed at North Albany Senior High School and Albany Secondary Education Support Centre
  • planning commenced for classroom additions at Eaton Community College, Albany Senior High School, Baler Primary School and Broome Senior High School and upgrades at Dampier Primary School.

In 2021, we launched Caring for Country together: Our sustainability framework to provide strategic direction for schools and regional and central services, and guide sustainable practice in curriculum, infrastructure and operations. 

The framework complements the Western Australian Climate Policy and the Schools Clean Energy Technology Fund. The fund is a $44.6 million program, commencing in 2021–22 and running over 4 years, which will go toward the installation of new clean energy technologies in public schools, including solar panels and virtual power plants. In 2021–22, the Minister for Education and Training announced round one of the Schools Clean Energy Technology Fund. We selected 61 metropolitan and 23 regional schools for installation of solar panels, with feasibilities currently underway for these installations. We expanded Synergy’s Virtual Power Plant pilot program to 7 additional schools across the Midwest and Goldfields regions, with works currently being at tender stage. We allocated $4.6 million of the Schools Clean Energy Technology Fund to deliver a second stage of Horizon Power’s Solar Schools Program to a further 28 schools in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions.

The Department 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 was accurate and timely, 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 2021–22:

  • 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.
  • At a state level, we continued to make progress against Department-led recommendations to safeguard children in our schools. The Safe and friendly schools framework and self-assessment tool supports school staff to embed child-safety principles in schools. 
  • We have progressed work to ensure compliance with the mandatory reporting legislation that sees an expansion of persons whose duty it is to report child sexual abuse.
  • The Department is represented on national and state working groups progressing work in relation to harmful sexual behaviour and the National principles for child safe organisations.

We provide ongoing support to schools to assist 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 at home and at school were published in 2021.

Nationally agreed policy reforms continued to be advanced through the Education Ministers Meeting and subcommittees. These included national endorsement of the revised Australian Curriculum in April 2022, and changes to NAPLAN from 2023 as announced in March 2022.

Eight new agreements were negotiated with the Australian Government:

  • Preschool Reform Agreement (2022–2025), superseding the National Partnership on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education that expired at the end of 2021
  • Service Delivery Arrangement for education services to Indian Ocean Territories schools, to October 2026
  • 2 Sporting Schools Club Connect Program agreements, spanning July 2021 to September 2022
  • 4 Sporting Schools Program agreements extended the program to October 2022.

We commenced engagement with the Productivity Commission as part of its review of the current National School Reform Agreement, which expires at the end of 2023.

In 2021–22, we finalised our Multicultural Plan 2021–2025. The plan 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, 2 are in progress, 16 represent ongoing activities and one action is yet to commence due to COVID-19. We will report progress to the Office of Multicultural Interests consistent with its reporting requirements.

In partnership with CareerTrackers, we continued the Undergraduate Allied Professional Program, promoting careers in the public service to high performing Aboriginal university students through a paid 10 to 12 week summer traineeship. Participants could opt to return for a paid 2 week winter traineeship. In 2021–22, we had 5 participants return for the July 2021 traineeships and 8 new participants completed the summer traineeship.

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 2019–20 to 2021–22

Type 2019–20 2020–2021 2021–2022
Letters 1,689 1,560 1,741
Briefing notes/advice 1,335(a) 1,406(b) 1,990(c)
Answers to parliamentary questions 218 130 198
Cabinet comments 44 53 70
Contentious issues reports (average number of briefings per report) 8 (31) 7 (21) 9 (93)
Total 3,294 3,156 4,008
Percentage processed on time 87 89 85

(a) 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.
(b) 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.
(c) This figure includes briefings relating to both the 2021–22 and 2022–23 Budget Estimates Hearings, and COVID-19 Situation Reports.

Source: Strategy and Policy