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Every child deserves access to a broad curriculum and to pursue what most engages them. The full range of learning areas – English, mathematics, science, humanities and social sciences, the arts, technologies, health and physical education, and languages – all make a substantial contribution to the education of our young people.
There is an emerging gap between employment requirements for skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and the number of students who are competent and proficient in those subjects. In recent years, fewer students are studying languages in their final years of school. At a time where South Australia is developing international relationships for trade, culture and tourism, we need to reverse this trend.
High achievement across our schools requires a lifting of general competence in all learning areas, identifying students who are capable of excelling, and supporting them to extend their skills.
What students need for their future is a combination of core content knowledge and high-level skills. In their 13 years of schooling, our young people should be equipped to be literate and numerate, competent communicators, confident users of information technology, creative problem solvers, capable of critical analysis, able to make ethical choices, and proficient at understanding different cultures.
These capabilities are embedded in the Australian Curriculum, and are recognised internationally as essential 21st century skills.
We know that students’ ability to learn these skills is deeply entwined with how well our schools teach them. We are committed to equipping our teachers, leaders and schools with the skills, resources and learning environments they need to ensure each child can achieve their best.
- support children and young people to learn the personal competencies necessary for future success
- ensure children and young people acquire 21st century skills that equip them to participate in growing and emerging industries
- provide quality teaching and leadership to drive high achievement
- continue investing in high quality learning environments that support the teaching and learning of 21st century skills.
Quality teaching and leadership
Quality teaching and school leadership are at the heart of improving achievement for children and young people. As well as supporting advanced leadership qualifications for our school and preschool leaders, we have made significant investments in professional development against the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and the Australian Principal Standard. This includes an early career teacher program that will assist teachers to move from ‘graduate’ to ‘proficient’ career stages within 2 years.
We have also established ‘highly accomplished’ and ‘lead teacher’ positions, and are committed to promoting certification against the standards. Supporting career development against the standards gives us confidence in the quality of teaching in government schools.
Numeracy and literacy
Strong numeracy and literacy skills are foundational to educational achievement. We will continue our efforts to improve numeracy and literacy teaching across government schools and preschools.
Key components of our approach include:
- providing school leaders with access to the Results Plus professional learning program to lead improvement in literacy and numeracy
- sharing high-quality professional development statewide through 21 high-performing ‘lead learning’ schools.
Transforming STEM learning
The STEM Learning strategy will transform public education to enable students at every level of schooling, including preschool, to develop knowledge, skills and understanding in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and to apply that learning to shape their world. As part of the strategy, 500 primary teachers will receive additional training to become STEM specialists so that by 2020, every primary school in South Australia will have a minimum of 1 teacher with specialist STEM skills.
Our focus on quality STEM teaching is assisted by an upgrade to teaching facilities at 139 public schools, as part of the STEM Works program.
Innovation in languages
Plympton International College is South Australia’s first bilingual school, with half of the curriculum to be offered in Mandarin. The initiative will support students to become proficient in Mandarin and prepare them to become competitive in the global job market. In addition, Unley High School and Highgate School have partnered to launch South Australia’s first bi-national French program. These flagship initiatives will form part of several actions aimed at improving the quality and reach of our languages programs.
Teaching critical and creative thinking
Public education has a new focus on critical and creative thinking – an essential skill for an innovation and knowledge-based economy. Through Explore Learning sites, schools will design, trial and research innovative and evidence-informed approaches to designing learning that intentionally develops these skill. Over time, we will assess all of the general capabilities in the Australian Curriculum.
Learning design and moderation reform
As well as a focus on the innovative learning design that is critical to teaching 21st century skills, we want to improve the consistency of teacher judgement against achievement standards and in verifying A to E grades. This is important work to ensure we know where to focus our learning improvement efforts.
Our additional support for teachers in these areas will include training learning design moderators in
every school and providing online platforms to collaborate and share learning design.
- Improve the language education experience for primary school children and establish clear pathways through to year 12
- Collaborate across education sectors to strengthen the teaching and assessment of the general capabilities and moderation practices
- Ensure educational leaders have more support to manage and improve staff performance.