Indigenous Education Strategy Newsletter - Issue 2

Welcome to the second issue of the newsletter.

The last few weeks have seen steady progress in key programs together with a great deal of community engagement which is invaluable to the success of the strategy implementation. 

Last week we briefed the Central Land Council at Haasts Bluff outside Alice Springs on the strategy and implementation detail. It was a full meeting of all Land Council delegates and both the strategy and implementation were well received with useful discussions and dialogue.

We met with key stakeholders in Nhulunbuy last week for the Nhulunbuy residential facility, in addition to the consultations that took place at the Garma Festival. I am delighted that we can unveil the design and more information of the state-of-the-art facility in this issue of the newsletter. I would also like to thank everyone who has participated in the consultation and helped us to reach this stage of the design.

Some of the other items in this issue include updates on:

  • the Employment Pathways Program
  • the new Transition Support Unit.
  • career pathways for Indigenous Assistant Teachers with the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Education
  • the girls’ engagement programs
  • Indigenous Education Excellence Scholarships

An integral part of the strategy is the evaluation of the programs to ensure they are effective.   We have just appointed independent consultants ACIL Allen Consulting, who will work with the Batchelor Institute to conduct the evaluation. Further information is detailed below.

We will continue to keep you regularly updated on the progress of these initiatives through this newsletter and look forward to continuing our work with you.

Tony Considine
General Manager

Nhulunbuy Boarding Facility Plans Unveiled

More details of the design of the new residential boarding facility for Indigenous students in the grounds of Nhulunbuy High School were unveiled at the recent Garma Festival.
Architects Zone A, who are based in Alice Springs, drew on best practice from other residential boarding facilities across Australia to create the state-of-the-art designs.
Stage One of the design features six buildings interconnected by walkways. The design includes two 20 bed residential blocks, a community facility, an administration centre and houses for the manager and deputy manager. Two additional 20 bed residential blocks will be constructed in stage two to take the capacity to 80 students.
The $20 million facility will include single, double and four bed student rooms, a computer centre, music centre, a basketball circle, stage and amphitheatre.
A full commercial kitchen and large dining room complete with outdoor decks and BBQ overlooking the facility's oval.  The site also includes a shelter for students and staff for to use when necessary during extreme weather events.
Request for tenders for the construction of the facility will commence in October 2015.

Transition Support Unit Update

Recruitment is now well underway for the Transition Support Unit (TSU) officers and administrative staff.  Currently selection processes for 22 of the 24 positions are complete with an expectation that all officers will be in place for commencement of Term 4, 2015. TSU personnel will be based in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine, Nhulunbuy and Darwin.

Rob Picton, who heads up the unit commented. “We have had a great deal of interest in the positions with 258 people applying for the 24 available positions across the Territory. I have been particularly impressed with the quality of applicants, and I am confident that we have the best people for these positions. In the next edition we will provide a who’s who directory of TSU staff”.

In Darwin, the team will be based in the new Terminal One complex on the Stuart Highway in Winnellie. This ground floor building next to the Commonwealth Bank is easily accessible with ample free parking and in close proximity to public transport.  TSU staff in other locations operate out of our regional offices.

Rob commented, “We want to ensure the teams are easily accessible by Indigenous students, their parents and carers.  It is really important that they are located close to public transport and that the facilities are welcoming”. 

Alongside the recruitment activity, work has been underway in designing a logo for the unit to be used on vehicles and uniforms and sourcing administrative facilities for the teams.

The logo's circular design reflects the coming together and unity of purpose in achieving a secondary education. The colours chosen represent the red ochre of the desert, the greens of the tropical savannah, and the azure blue of the Arafura Sea.  The logo will enable the unit to be instantly recognisable by students and their families.

Officers will work with families and schools to ensure students are prepared for and enrolled in appropriate schooling options in the secondary years.

“It is this unity of purpose between our families, our staff and their destination schools that will ensure students successfully complete their secondary education” Rob concluded.

Dripstone and Sanderson get set to reach for the Stars

The first of the new Stars Foundation girls’ engagement programs are due to commence next week at Dripstone and Sanderson Middle Schools.
Stars Foundation staff have been preparing rooms at the schools and talking to the girls about the program, who are showing a great deal of enthusiasm and excitement about the  introduction.

Stars Foundation use a range of activities and approaches to support Indigenous girls to strengthen their attendance, health awareness, social and emotional wellbeing and educational outcomes. Activities will focus on education, employment pathways, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and general life skills.

They will operate alongside the similar Clontarf Academies for boys in these schools.

Progress is also being made towards commencement of programs at Nhulunbuy High School and Yirrkala School with school and community consultation, staff recruitment and allocation of rooms being considered at each site. 

Employment Pathways Model Development

As outlined in the first issue of the newsletter, for some communities where student numbers are not sufficient to deliver a full secondary education curriculum, a new remote employment pathways delivery model is being developed for the students who remain on country.

Principals at Numbulwar, Borroloola, and Ngukurr have agreed to support the development of the model by providing feedback and trialling it in their schools in 2016.

Vicki Baylis, Executive Director, School Support said, “Andrew Oliver, the Director for Participation and Pathways and I, together with members of the Transition Support Unit, will be visiting schools in September to get input from the school principals and regional directors into what will work and won’t work.  We will take into account factors such as the anticipated student cohort, the capabilities and strengths of the teaching staff, existing programs and opportunities for ongoing student employment with local industry.”

“The model will be tailored to community needs to provide mandated literacy and numeracy and include elements of leadership, work readiness and financial literacy. This is very much a collaborative approach and the expertise and experience of the principals and regional directors of these schools will be invaluable in helping us develop the model.”

The trials will provide information to assist in scaling up the program for roll out to other remote schools in 2016 and 2017.

Indigenous Education Excellence Scholarships

The Indigenous Education Excellence Scholarships are now open for high achieving Year 7 Indigenous students who may wish to transition to some of Australia's leading boarding schools.

Remote principals are encouraged to inform their school communities of the scholarship and put forward an expression of interest from interested Year 7 students in their community.

The scholarship fund is being managed by the Transition Support Unit.

In awarding the scholarship the Transition Support Unit will look at the students past academic record, attendance and willingness and capacity to successfully complete secondary education to Year 12.

Closing date for expressions of interest is Friday 25 September 2015.

Assistant Teachers’ program Batchelor Institute

One of the key projects being implemented as part of stage one of the Indigenous Education Strategy implementation is the establishment of employment and professional development arrangements for our 320 Assistant Teachers. This project represents an investment of $4.5million in our Assistant Teachers over the next three years.

Assistant Teachers have been part of the Department of Educations’ workforce since 1954 and play a crucial part in the delivery of education in remote communities across the territory. Developing the Indigenous teacher workforce is a key part of the A Share in the Future Indigenous Education Strategy implementation

One of the key elements of this project is the development of a training model with the Bachelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (BIITE). This model will provide a trajectory of training commencing with a Certificate II in Foundation Skills and progressing through a Certificate III and Diploma level to an Advanced Diploma of Education. Central to the model is improving the capacity of our Assistant Teachers to deliver quality literacy and numeracy learning to our students.

A plan and funding agreement have been negotiated between BIITE and the department for the delivery of accredited training for Assistant Teachers in schools commencing Semester 2, 2015.

Evaluating A Share in the Future

The Department is committed to evaluating the implementation and outcomes of the Indigenous Education Strategy over the next three years. Through a public tender process, independent consultants ACIL Allen Consulting, in partnership with the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, have been contracted to undertake this evaluation.

The objectives of the evaluation are to:

  • identify the extent to which the strategy is meeting community needs
  • monitor whether the strategy is on track to achieve its objectives and outcomes
  • assess the impact of actions being delivered under the strategy
  • identify lessons learnt, areas for improvement and key areas of focus for the next phase of implementation.

Over the three year period of the evaluation significant qualitative and quantitative data will be collected and analysed in order to assess the implementation and outcomes.

A key part of the evaluation will involve engaging with schools to understand how the strategy’s actions and programs are impacting students, schools and their communities. We anticipate school engagement will include an annual, online self-reflection tool (beginning in November 2015), as well as in-depth case studies in a selection of schools in 2016.

Regular updates on the progress of the evaluation and the timing of data collection activities will be provided to schools.

If you require further information regarding the evaluation, please contact Strategic Services on 08 8999 5793.

For more information

Contact the Indigenous Education Review Implementation Team via email or phone 08 8944 9365.

Last updated: 22 January 2016

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