Department for Education and Child Development Strategic Plan 2012-2016 Presentation

In the past few months, four months now, nearly five, since I arrived in South Australia I’ve been trying to take up as many opportunities as possible to meet and share with other members of the South Australian education community so I’ve visited schools, I’ve met principals, teachers, parents and students and I just want to share a few of my thoughts, as they are now, with you today. People demonstrate a high degree of energy and commitment in their roles be it as teachers, principals, early childhood leaders or education administrators. One of the strongest messages that I’ve heard in the public system is that we must vest greater trust and authority in school leaders and preschool leaders who are, in every sense, the visible face and local leaders of our public education system. And I see, more than ever, a strong focus in our schools on maintaining good relationships with other staff members with students and with their communities. I’ve also noticed the very high degree of expertise amongst staff in our schools and preschools and that’s accompanied by a willingness to adapt and adopt new evidence-based practices and its vital that we here look at the bigger picture of what’s happening elsewhere in the world both in practice and in research. In fact I’ve been really impressed by the way in which South Australian educators draw heavily upon research from elsewhere in the world not simply to copy but to learn from and to seek to apply in our local context. In a state that’s bounded by the Southern ocean, has deserts on two sides of it it’s inevitable that we have to look up and out to see what we can learn from others. I stress, it’s not to copy or to borrow but to learn from and to apply to our context. Also, I see tangible values of service to the community and the State and to public sector values. And these are taught explicitly in most schools that I visit there’s a certain pride in public education here as education available to all the right of every child to receive a good education. I’m excited to feel a great deal of ambition amongst everyone here to see education in this State move from good, and I’ll say a bit more about “good”, to great which is where I think it can go. In so doing we must build upon the rich diversity of education that our schools offer every one that I’ve visited has a kernal of distinctiveness that’s led me to conclude that we have many, many extraordinary ordinary schools. Overall the data shows that we are starting from a position of strength and future reforms that we embark upon will build on these achievements. We’ve built the strategic plan on the assumption of the high performance of our system and the quality of our teachers and leaders. Our new strategic plan will guide a five year effort to more closely align the operation and functions of the public education and care system with it’s core purposes. The overwhelming message that I’ve heard from principals, teachers, parents and local and school and preschool communities is that they want the support provided from the centre of department to align more closely with the delivery of education to all young South Australians. So the new Executive Leadership Group structure has being developed with this in mind to support our schools and preschools and to empower educational leaders at all levels of the public education system. So I hope that this new structure will drive a fresh approach to education by helping to create a strong focus on quality teaching and teachers. So I want those working in central and regional roles to partner with leaders, teachers and local school communities and support their work with children and families. The key outcome from this restructure is a modern and responsive central office that can work effectively to lift our aspirations and expectations of student achievement. Thank you very much to all of my colleagues, I hope that introduction makes it clear that our vision and indeed our expectation for the department is that we work in new ways with parents, with local schools and children’s services for the benefit of students, families and local communities. We owe it to South Australia’s children and young people to make sure that each of them has the opportunity to learn and develop to their full potential. These changes I hope will ensure that all parts of the public education system, including parents, are working better together towards this goal. Belief in the value and the future of every child is the unifying force across education and public education has to be there for every child all of the time and without exception and within our system here as I was saying earlier we have such a rich diversity of schooling to choose from actually in all three of the school sectors. My ambition is that parents should be able to make their choice of sector in the confidence that the quality of education is there in every school here in the state. Education has to serve at least three major purposes to benefit both individuals and communities. The first is an individual purpose – education provides opportunities for all children and young people to develop and to develop their skills and understanding and to pursue interests that will enable them to lead rich fulfilling and productive lives. The second is an economic purpose – education makes an important contribution to the Australian economy by preparing people for work in the many occupations that comprise the modern labor market. And the third is a democratic purpose – education prepares young people as citizens who are able to play an active and constructive role in democratic life. And as educators our challenge is to make sure that these opportunities are universally available. Indeed the greatest gift that we can give our children is their education. So the plan is built upon and expresses confidence in our leaders to manage and make good decisions at the local level it’s designed as a framework that gives some direction about the key priorities for education and care but does not go further into the detail of implementation because that’s where you come in. Localised approaches to how we implement the plan who sits alongside this current document and will be largely your responsibility. What’s clear to me is that we need to stimulate an active debate about what works best and why it works and some of the work that Ben and his colleagues are leading around innovation and innovative practice and the role that we can play in facilitating that rather than directing it I think will be key to having some of that debate. We know that the nature of our child, student and parent population is changing and we collectively are expected to meet the challenge of providing a meaningful useful and general education to young South Australians in every corner of our state. So our challenge is to create tomorrow’s schools and preschools for today’s children and students and so our Strategic Plan 2012-2016 for South Australian public education and care has been structured with our core directions in mind and they are about improving outcomes for children, about supporting the work of teachers and leaders, about enhancing partnerships with communities, about building better systems for all staff working with children and about measuring and articulating success. So the plan recognizes that in an increasingly diverse and complex community we need to move beyond “one size fits all” approaches and ultimately the plan seeks to reinforce and extend the quality of public education across South Australia. We have high expectations both of ourselves as an organisation and of our students who are the future of our state.

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