$412 million was provided to states and territories to support access to preschool education for all children under the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education and the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education – 2015.
A further $843 million was committed to support access for all children to preschool education in 2016 and 2017. This funding extends the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education.
The department facilitated the first national Australian Early Development Census conference in February 2015. Approximately 300 representatives came together to share research, policy, and ways in which the evidence is being used to inform practice in schools and local communities.
A total of $13.75 billion in recurrent funding entitlements was provided to Australia's approximately 9400 schools for the 2014 school year.
$6.2 million was provided to 21 non-government boarding schools with significant numbers of Indigenous boarding students from remote areas under the Indigenous Boarding Initiative.
$134.5 million was provided for 254 projects at 221 non-government schools under the Capital Grants Programme in 2014.
The report of the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group was released on 13 February 2015. The Government’s response, also released on 13 February 2015, broadly supports the recommendations and provides a clear direction for the preparation of future teachers.
The department worked closely with all jurisdictions to gain agreement to participate in the Independent Public Schools initiative. Providing funding of $70 million from 2013–14 to 2016–17, the initiative will enable state and territory governments to introduce strategies for their government schools that will enable them to make local decisions about how to achieve the best education outcomes for their students and increase parent and community engagement.
A Parent Engagement Expert Reference Group has been established to guide ARACY’s research and provide advice on increasing parent engagement. Its inaugural meeting was held at Parliament House in March 2015.
The Review of the Australian Curriculum has resulted in actions to address overcrowding of the curriculum, particularly in the primary school years, and rebalance its content. The review will also lead to a curriculum that is more accessible, particularly for students with disability, and improve parent engagement with the curriculum. A review of ACARA to consider its ongoing role and functions has also commenced.
The Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) trial commenced in 41 services offering a preschool programme across Australia. Through the one year trial, more than 1600 preschool children are trialling innovative new applications (apps) to develop recognition of different sounds and concepts of a language other than English through play based learning.
The department has commenced work on a range of STEM initiatives: Coding across the Curriculum, Mathematics by Inquiry, seed funding to pilot an innovation-focused Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) styled secondary education initiative, and convening STEM summer schools focusing on underrepresented students, including girls, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and disadvantaged students. This has included formative research and convening a roundtable that brought together some of the nation’s best minds in mathematics education to consider the evidence and advise Government.
The delivery of the Flexible Literacy in Remote Primary Schools programme commenced in 33 participating schools at the start of the 2015 school year, with training provided for over 300 teachers, principals, teacher aides and coaches.
Over 80 high-quality digital learning resources have been developed through the Government’s Agriculture in Education initiative and aligned to the Australian Curriculum.
The More Support for Students with Disability (MSSD) initiative was finalised with a national showcase that allowed states and territories to share best practice and demonstrated how the Australian Government's investment of $300 million from 2012–2014 made a lasting impact, building the skills of teachers and increasing the capacity of schools to better meet the needs of students with disability.
Individual NAPLAN student reports were delivered to schools by 8 September 2014, two weeks earlier than in previous years. ACARA is working with states and territories to further reduce NAPLAN turnaround times in 2015.
A review of the My School website and the Government's response, Making My School better, were released in March 2015. The Education Council has since requested that ACARA provide advice about options for improving the My School website.
National data reform progressed, including the adoption and reporting of new COAG-endorsed school attendance measures by Indigenous status.
In December 2014, the Education Council endorsed Preparing Secondary Students for Work – a framework for vocational learning and vocational education and training (VET) delivered to secondary students. The framework provides clarity of terminology, purpose and expected outcomes and supports clear and meaningful pathways for secondary students, and was developed collaboratively by a national working group comprising representatives from the schools, industry and training sectors.
Under the Trade Training Centres in Schools Programme, a total of 511 centres benefiting 1290 schools have been funded. As at 30 June 2015, 59 centres reported commencing their trade training delivery during 2014–15, bringing the number of operational centres under the programme to 390 and the number of schools with access to a Trade Training Centre to 1064.
An independent review of the Trade Training Centres in Schools Programme conducted in 2014 included opportunities to maximise existing training infrastructure. The department will work with schools, local businesses, industry and the community to build stronger partnerships over the programme’s 10 year reporting period.
Since its launch in 2010, Teach For Australia has placed over 270 participants into metropolitan as well as rural and remote schools in Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, and the Northern Territory. In 2014, 67 Associates were selected to take part in the programme including for the first time in Western Australia. Interest in the programme continues to grow with applications increasing in 2014 by 30 per cent.
During the 2015 school year over 3000 schools are participating in the National School Chaplaincy Programme which supports the emotional wellbeing of students through the provision of pastoral care services and strategies.