An unprecedented drive to lift the achievements of young South Australians will be unveiled to principals, preschool directors and child protection leaders today, with the announcement of a major central-office restructuring of the Department for Education and Child Development.
DECD Chief Executive, Tony Harrison, said the proposed changes will strengthen accountability, release specialist staff to work in and across schools and preschools, and deliver a leaner central office focused on corporate functions.
A new Education Management System to track student achievement and help schools manage their business will also be announced, alongside plans to develop the leadership skills of 1,400 current, new and aspiring leaders.
“These reforms represent a new way for our department,” Mr Harrison said.
“The plans we are unveiling today will better support the great work that happens in schools and preschools across South Australia so our children and young people can be their best.
“Educators with specialist skills will work more closely with teachers, leaders and groups of schools to help drive improvement across the system.
“Central office will focus on administration, monitoring performance and putting in place the infrastructure to support service delivery.
“We are sending a very clear message to principals and preschool directors that we trust and expect them to continue in their pursuit of ongoing improvement in student achievement.
“The reforms are about ensuring the appropriate checks and balances are in place, giving schools and preschools the support they need, and getting out of the way to let them deliver the high-quality service that parents demand.”
Mr Harrison said the overall budget for DECD has increased to $3.354 billion in 2015-16. However, savings do need to be found but schools and preschools will be quarantined from those savings.
“There will be no reductions to funding for frontline services, and these reforms will not lead to any reduction in teacher numbers on the frontline.
“Direct school funding will continue to grow in real terms over the full six years of the state’s pledge to meet the terms of the National Education Reform Agreement.
“The Department as a whole is committed to using all available funds to improve educational achievement, child protection and wellbeing among young people.”
The reforms announced today include:
- Relocating 300 staff from central office to work directly with schools to improve program delivery and teaching practices – this will include an FTE being appointed to work with each of the 20 Education Directors to drive performance improvement across groups of schools and preschools.
- Amalgamating the Office for Education and the Office for Children and Young People to reduce duplication and improve delivery of children’s learning and development programs.
- Creating an Education Management System to provide secure access anywhere, anytime to school administration, finance, data, analytics, student information and timetabling.
- Funding a graduate diploma in strategic leadership to existing, new and aspiring school and preschool leaders. Up to 1,400 DECD employees will complete this qualification over the next 4-5 years.
- The creation of an Aboriginal Education Directorate to unify services under a single management structure.
- Consolidating corporate business services and reducing duplication.
- Greater support for teachers to help them deal with complex child protection issues, with a child wellbeing practitioner employed to work across groups of schools and preschools to provide direct intervention, advice and training.
The reforms announced today support and reflect the Families SA Redesign process which began in 2012 to deliver improvements to child protection services.