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Public Education Awards finalists

Congratulations to our finalists of the 2022 Public Education Awards – our showcase of excellence in the public education system.

We’ll announce the winners at a gala event on Friday 4 November. The event will also be streamed on our Facebook page.

Leadership Award

Leader of the Year Award finalists

Charmaine Suares Howard
Preschool Director, Paradise Kindergarten
Kaurna Country

Charmaine has taken her community on an inspiring and impactful musical journey.

Leading by example and with infectious enthusiasm, Charmaine has taken the children, families and educators of Paradise Kindergarten on a 3-year journey of continuous improvement with a focus on music. Charmaine understands that learning and appreciating music is not only part of a high-quality education but can inspire learning across the curriculum. Charmaine embraced opportunities offered by the Department’s Music Education Strategy by embedding music into the kindergarten’s program, routines and environment.

Over her tenure as director, Charmaine has completely transformed all physical learning environments into beautiful, inviting learning spaces with a musical focus. Charmaine is an innovator who produces and implements ambitious, rigorous and clear improvement plans. Charmaine introduced “Staff Book Club” where the team reflect on musical texts and collaboratively prioritise one task to implement. Charmaine builds the parent/family input sheets each term into her planning, including the addition of a Zimbabwean nursery rhyme into the ‘family song book’. A story that captured the imagination of the music training in practice was "Caterpillar Caterpillar, run away from the bird”. Charmaine presented this story to other directors within the partnership and is scheduled to present at the 2022 State Literacy Conference.

Grant Small
Primary Leader, Grange Primary School
Kaurna Country

Empowering his students and staff delivers exceptional outcomes.

Grant has had an exemplary career in Education that has spanned over 4 decades. Now in his 8th year as Principal of Grange Primary School, Grant’s had significant, positive impact on school culture and achievement. His vision for world class encompasses staff and students alike and is being actively realised. Seeing all staff as leaders and all students—whose voices are sought to continuously improve teaching and learning—as active contributors to their own education, Grant has a strong ability to build capacity to generate results. Under Grant’s mentorship, 10 of his middle level leaders have gone on to be principals.

Grant achieved significant data-verified success at Grange Primary School through reconfiguring the leadership structure. He transitioned the structure from management to instructional leadership. Grant also prioritised strengthening curriculum coaches in Mathematics and English to focus on improving student engagement and achievement. This success is shared across the portfolio and across the state as Grant actively shares his own learning and encourages teachers and leaders to visit Grange to observe teachers and share practice. This includes developing a sister school relationship with primary schools in Singapore in Mathematics. Grant has led the school in using technology and this year the school capital works program will focus on building an Innovation Centre which will include a lumination lab – the first in any stand-alone primary school.

Peter Cobb
Site Leader, Flaxmill School P to 6
Kaurna Country

Peter’s commitment to the wellbeing and development of both staff and students delivers exciting results.

Peter is an instructional leader who drives change and improvement for staff and students through an inclusive culture of high expectations, connectedness, engagement, and wellbeing within the school. Having developed an ethos of excellence and high expectations for staff and students, his leadership has created a school with a strong respect for learning and a holistic approach to wellbeing.

Under Peter’s guidance overall school performance scores have improved, student wellbeing scores for academic self-concept, school belonging and connectedness to school are high, and parent engagement surveys show parents are appreciative of effective school communication and highly value the school community Peter leads. Peter has provided cohesion for employees by aligning the site improvement plan, professional learning communities and professional development plans. This structure and attention to detail has resulted in a site with clear roles and responsibilities and a commitment by all to improvement.

Peter’s calm and thorough approach and use of current educational research to form the basis for evidence-based change has resulted in the school community having a high level of trust in him. The Governing Council have described the leadership of the school as community-based with a focus on the learning and wellbeing needs of the students. Council members readily talk of his obvious sense of pride for the learning achievement of students and acknowledge the way Peter leads the staff and values the voice of students.

Teaching Awards

Early Years Teacher of the Year Award finalists

Tamara Dobozy
Teacher, Pipalyatjara Anangu School
Pitjantjatjara Country

A strong sense of collaboration and community enables Tamara to engage with families and build for future reading success.

Tamara creates a culturally sensitive and safe learning environment for young children and their families. She recognises the benefits of maternal literacy to children and actively partners with families to build play-based pedagogy, with a view to setting children up for future reading success. Tamara addresses the equity gap for Anangu children by building risk-taking mind-sets for families leading to family carers feeling safe in the ‘school’ environment and trusting that the teachers will support their child to acquire English.

Tamara recognises the distinct challenges faced by children who live remotely. Tamara has established strong relationships with Anangu education workers and families, embracing the Aboriginal Education Strategy’s vision of high expectations while scaffolding steps for success and sharing the Anangu people’s hope for ‘life changing’ education. Tamara’s visionary approach to be one of the first Anangu lands’ communities to undertake the family literacy project; Paint the Town REaD was an opportunity to build relationships and literacy practices with families. Tamara invited playgroup and junior primary teachers to participate in the literacy journey ensuring sustainability into 2022 and supported families and children to feel confident in their learning environment. Inclusivity is a particular strength of Tamara’s; she ensures each family’s values and strengths are integrated into the resilience programs she designs and mentors colleagues in Mimili, Indulkana and Kenmore Park.

Fiona Brown
Aldinga Beach Children’s Centre
Kaurna Country

Fiona captures the imaginative ideas of her students for an insightful and educational exhibition.

Fiona is an inspiring, outstanding and committed teacher who has had a positive impact on the learning and development of hundreds of children, on building authentic relationships with families and community, and on the professional development of her colleagues over many years.

In 2020 and 2021, Fiona took a lead role in working alongside her director and with the preschool team to develop their understanding of and use of pedagogical documentation, to support authentic planning for children’s learning and development aligned to the EYLF outcomes and Indicators of Preschool Numeracy and Literacy. This work also aligned to the Children Centre’s PQIP goals, challenges of practice and actions. Fiona was key in leading this work and acted as a mentor amongst the other teachers and educators in the team, as well as with the reception teachers at Aldinga Beach Primary School.

In each of those years, the learning Fiona led across the year with her group of kindergarten children culminated in an exhibition for families and the broader community, to showcase children’s thinking and learning. Fiona led with the children over time an exploration of the concept of light, which stemmed from children wondering “Can light make pictures”. In 2020 the exhibition was called an ‘art exhibition’. Fiona’s consistent use of sustained shared thinking to encourage children to think and wonder, and also model thinking and wondering with children, led to the children deciding to call the 2021 exhibition ‘an exhibition of thinking’. Such commitment to honouring children’s thinking as well as the products of their learning, and truly seeing children as capable, meant that families were also able to view their child in this light.

Eden Hills Kindergarten Team
Eden Hills Kindergarten
Kaurna Country

A historically significant site provides backdrop for community engagement and learning.

Eden Hills Kindergarten is located near Colebrook Reconciliation Park, the site of the former Colebrook Training Home where Aboriginal children removed from their families were placed. After the home was demolished three decades ago, the Blackwood Reconciliation Group (BRG) was established.

The kindergarten has built strong, long-standing connections with the site, supporting belonging and Aboriginal perspectives. For a decade, the Kindergarten has made visiting the park with community members, sharing damper and fruit around campfires, playing games and exploring sculptures and plaques a priority. Former residents of the home have visited the kindergarten during National Reconciliation Week to share memories, and the children have actively participated in changes to the park including working alongside local Aboriginal artists to create mosaics and decorate a talking post.

A Reconciliation Action Plan is in development with support from BRG while children are encouraged to explore relationships with the land and consider ‘who first belonged to this land?’ A strong culture of sustainability is fostered at the site, where staff and students are considered ‘custodians of the places where they live, play and learn’, and the children participated in a video called, “What does reconciliation mean to you?”, developed by BRG and sites within the partnership.

Credit Union SA Primary Teacher of the Year Award finalists

Kerri Kelsh
Reception and year 1 Teacher, Miltaburra Area School
Far West Coast

Kerri’s laser focus on individual student needs delivers exceptional Phonics Screening Checks.

Kerri is an outstanding teacher who targets her teaching to the needs of every student in her class. She makes every student’s learning relevant and challenging, ensuring that every student develops a keen love of life-long learning along the way.

Kerri has a pattern of 100% of students achieving benchmark in the Phonics Screening Check, with a significant increase in average word score, enabling her students to transition from a junior primary classroom setting with strong foundations in reading and writing.

Kerri strategically applies evidence-based practices to ensure her pedagogy has the greatest impact on the learning outcomes of her students. She’s a critical user of research and actively reflects on her own practice. An example of this is the work she has completed using mentor texts and connecting the text to the Australian Curriculum. By using texts appropriate to and engaging for her students, Kerri transfers her knowledge of evidence-based strategies to her students. She’s also a key contributor to system development at Miltaburra, is part of the ‘units of work’ feedback group and provides valuable input at a wider level.

Highly responsive to her students’ learning needs, the impact Kerri has on the future achievement and engagement of her students is both positive and significant.

Labhaoise Upton
Teacher, Keller Road Primary School
Kaurna Country

Kaurna language and culture are the gateway for Labhaoise to empower students to build their own identity.

Labhaoise is an inspiring teacher of Kaurna language. In collaboration with Kaurna educators, she writes and delivers a rigorous R-6 programme aligned with the ACARA curriculum for Aboriginal languages. The program supports non-Aboriginal students to engage in conversations about Kaurna language and culture from the perspective of their own background and cultures. Sense of self and reconciliation are nurtured in this process. Aboriginal students, especially Kaurna are given leadership roles and are encouraged to verbally express their pride in their identity. The impact of this programme on Aboriginal students is outstandingly measured in retention and pride in identity, while every student in the school, and at other sites she visits, demonstrate high levels of fluency and respect for the language of the Country.

Labhaoise has supported the site to improve not only by starting Kaurna as an official language but invisible pride and has affirmed the importance of language in the wider community for the students and parents.

Rosie Connelly
Teacher, Playford Primary School
Kaurna Country

Rosie solves behavioural issues by developing tools to help students control their reactions.

An enthusiastic teacher with a passion for education, Rosie’s an enthusiastic teacher, dedicated to fostering positive professional relationships with all members of the school community. Rosie varies her methodologies to ensure she caters for all learning styles in her classroom and understands the importance of providing all learners with the skills that prepare them for a lifelong learning process. With the introduction of 2 sessions of interoception per day, students who once required intervention for behaviour, have proactively developed tools to identify emotional reactions and implement the skills to be in control of their reactions.

Within her mathematical lessons, Rosie fosters the skills of her students using evidence-based practices, metacognitive strategies and collaborative learning. Each year, she establishes with her students 7 maths norms that promote a growth mindset and opportunities for existential questioning, centred around student discussion. Rosie actively engages parents and supports them with resources to build math skills at home and promote the 7 maths norms.

Lumination Secondary Teacher of the Year Award finalists

Flor Groenen Rangel
Senior Spanish Teacher, School of Languages
Kaurna Country

Cultural immersion proves a resounding success for Flor and her multi-lingual learners.

Flor enhances the academic outcomes as well as the self-esteem and wellbeing of all her students by developing multi-lingual learners who are proud of their linguistic and cultural skills, experiences, and identities. Her exemplary Spanish teaching has resulted in her students not only achieving some of the highest grades in the state but also, as she teaches the International Baccalaureate, some of the highest grades in the world. In 2021, in SACE stage 2 Continuers Spanish, Flor had 53% of A grade students across the state in her class, including 3/5 A+ students. By teaching through the lens of intercultural understanding, Flor ensures that her students have the most contemporary, critical communicative and interpersonal skills well beyond traditional language learning.

Regularly engaging in professional learning, Flor’s currently studying towards a Master of Education. She’s also involved in a project being run by the University of South Australia’s Research Centre for Languages and Cultures focussed on learning design and assessment. The professional development programs run by Flor have directly contributed to the improvement of achievement results across multiple languages. Flor has supported her colleagues to better understand assessment in the Year 12 IB Diploma course which has had a direct impact on learning outcomes with students.

Sarah Wills
Secondary Teacher, Bowden Brompton Community School
Kaurna Country

Sarah inspires and engages her students during the difficult transition to life after school.

Sarah Wills has successfully engaged some of the most challenging students in the school system. Working for 20 years at Bowden Brompton Community School (BBCS) with highly complex trauma effected middle school students, the school’s leadership asked her to take the lead with the "Gateways" senior student SACE group. Sarah upskilled herself with the latest research around SACE and took over the class 2 years ago.

Sarah understands the needs, abilities, and aspirations of each of her students and uses this lens to differentiate their educational program using relevant SACE and Vocational pathways. Under Sarah’s programming and guidance students have gained employment, moved into apprenticeships, finished VET certificate 3 courses and in 2021, Sarah facilitated BBCS having year 12 SACE completers for the first time in the school’s history.

Sarah uses the positive education theory ‘If you do good, you feel good” that underpins many of the integrated and community studies units and community partnerships she has formed in consultation with her students to engage them with learning and the community. This aspect of Sarah’s programming aims to engage students through volunteering in the community, while increasing student gratitude, sense of well-being and self-esteem.

Trudy Surman
Learning Area Leader – the Arts, Para Hills High School
Kaurna Country

Trudy believes in the power of dance and proves a resounding success with SACE results.

Trudy’s focus is always on the whole child as she supports both wellbeing and achievement. As the only Dance teacher at the school, her efforts have supported the school to have a full complement of SACE Dance classes running at both Stage 1 and 2. Achievement has been high with 100% pass rate and 80% A/B grades at Stage 2 in 2022.

With over half the school’s students coming from a non-English speaking background, Trudy purposefully embeds culturally responsive practices in her teaching and provides each individual child with opportunities to contribute. For example, Trudy has successfully taught Dance to students with significant physical disabilities and has supported her team to adjust both the environment and learning, resulting in the entire site being adapted to meet the needs of these students better. She leads a team of 11 across the Arts faculty, is a mentor for early career teachers and other staff and is consistently highlighted in both staff and parent surveys as a highly engaged, engaging, and supportive practitioner.

Inclusive Teacher of the Year (Disability) Award finalists

Ashleigh Calleja
Special Education Teacher, Gordon Education Centre
Buandig Country

Ashleigh has far-reaching cultural impact with her advocacy for children with a disability.

Ashleigh works with a variety of students with a range of abilities, each requiring a different level of support. She continually researches different approaches, with a constant focus on student wellbeing and dignity, to ensure every student can participate in their learning to the best of their ability. Her exceptional rapport with her students means they’re highly engaged and make steady progress in all areas of their development. Ashleigh regularly shares her learning and often mentors other staff.

Her advocacy for her students goes above and beyond the classroom. Ashleigh reached out to children’s music group, ‘Teeny Tiny Stevies’, with ideas for songs to include children with disability. The group now has a song called ‘Abilities’ which touches on children learning in different ways and features children with autism, deafness, vision impairment, and who use wheelchairs. Ash uses Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices to empower student voice and create a learning environment where students feelings and ideas are always acknowledged, and they feel respected and heard.

Bridget Dyson
Junior Primary Special Options Class Teacher, Clapham Primary School
Kaurna Country

Highly personalised programs and ongoing student support earns Bridget great respect in her school community.

Bridget’s positive disposition and professionalism allows her to build highly respectful relationships with families, colleagues, support services and the wider school community. She creates learning environments that ensure all students have equitable learning experiences supportive of their physical, social, cultural, and educational needs. She thoroughly plans and implements individualised, targeted, and differentiated teaching to cater for the many needs and abilities of her students, adjusting her teaching strategies to meet each child’s needs and ensuring they achieve success. When a student was identified as no longer eligible for special options class, Bridget confidently and capably supported the student and family by planning and facilitating a thorough transition program. The program enabled the student to have a voice in the process of transitioning to mainstream and have a highly successful start in terms 1 and 2.

Bridget is part of the school’s Special Options team that plans and implements evidence-based pedagogy across the site. She identified the need for Clapham Primary to further establish inclusive practices and worked collaboratively with teachers, leaders, and SSOs to pair her special options class with the mainstream reception class. This initiative resulted in increased understanding and compassion across the school and increased interaction between the students of both classes, both in class and during play.

Renee Mamys
Special Education Teacher, Victor Harbor High School Disability Unit
Ngarrindjeri Country

Building a sense of connection has inspired engagement with Renee’s students from years 7-11.

Renee has the challenging role of supporting young people with significant disabilities and highly complex needs in a class with students ranging from years 7-11. She also successfully manages and mentors the SSO team in her class.

Renee’s professional values, attitudes and abilities inform her actions, culminating in formidable impacts on her ability to foster student achievement, engagement, wellbeing, and inclusion for every child. Renee takes time to create learning outcomes which are achievable to the individual student with a learning focus on equity rather than equality. Renee develops empowerment through self-determination - including choice making, flexible learning opportunities and differentiated schedules - in an environment where group identity and individualism is recognised and encouraged. Renee develops and applies a range of professional practices and knowledge of individual learner’s needs, differentiating her learning plans and delivery modes for her complex learners, and builds positive and collaborative relationships with families, colleagues, and the broader school community, allied to educational purpose. A parent has commented her on her ability to foster an environment where the students have a true and deep connection with each other as well as the teaching unit.

University of South Australia Team Teaching Award finalists

Lea Brodie and Tanya Roberts
Karoonda Area School
Ngargad Country

Embracing technology delivers ground-breaking results for Karoonda.

Over the last 4 years, Lea and Tanya have taken Karoonda Area School from being a site largely devoid of technology, to a site now considered advanced in digital and design technology and science. Karoonda’s Robotics Team, Lego League and the Tech Girls Groups have won state and national awards – a remarkable achievement for an R-12 school of 125 students – and the expertise of both educators has been sought by media, local community groups and partnership sites.

Both Highly Accomplished Teachers, Tanya and Lea are a prime example of what 2 committed and skilled educators can achieve as a team. Actively upskilling themselves to facilitate a remarkable improvement at their site and lifting the profile of STEM, they’ve been key contributors to Karoonda Area School being accepted both as an Andy Thomas Space Foundation School, and into the Agrifutures Program.

Kaurna Plains School Leaders
Kaurna Country

Positive and purposeful cultural change sees a decrease in behavioural issues and an increase in engagement at Kaurna Plains.

The leaders at Kaurna Plains School have successfully worked together to positively change the culture of the school over a short period of time. They identified a clear need for the implementation of trauma-informed practice along with key attendance and engagement processes. A program providing space for intensive literacy and numeracy with strong focus on social skills development was developed, a whole school community supported Kaurna language program was introduced, and the focus at the site was moved from reactive behaviour management to learning.

As a result, there’s been a significant decrease in behavioural issues and engagement has increased with targeted programs. Student outcomes in phonemic awareness, phonics and reading has increased and overall school attendance has increased remarkably from 54% to 71%.

Pennington Children’s Centre
Kaurna Country

At Pennington, the camera is turned on the teachers as a growth and development tool.

Teaching practice and pedagogy is informed by evidence and ongoing, cumulative site-based research at Pennington Children’s Centre. The teaching team work collaboratively on a foundation of relational trust and critical reflection to ensure growth for both the children and the educators at their site. Through a continuous cycle of improvement, all educators contribute to pedagogical documentation processes as part of their planning and assessment cycle. For example, educators regularly film themselves in shared, sustained thinking with children, then work together with a colleague in a supported self -reflection process to identify successes and opportunities. Similarly, each term educators engage in collaborative analysis of each other’s pedagogical documentation of children’s learning to identify progress for children against their PQIP’s success criteria. Through these two processes, they have found that all instructional strategies outlined in their oral language pedagogical agreement are embedded into teaching practice to a high degree of fidelity.

By regularly hosting visiting colleagues, sharing their practice, and being 1 of 2 sites that contributed to the development of professional resource ‘Leading Teaching and Learning with Pedagogical Documentation’, the team at Pennington Children’s Centre have and continue to significantly contribute to the early childhood system within their partnership and across the state.

Specialist Awards

Aunty Josie Agius Award finalists

Honorary recipient to be announced on 4 November

Ngarrindjeri Language Program
Meningie Area School
Ngarrindjeri Country

Language becomes powerful tool for student engagement and community support.

Meningie Area School’s Ngarrindjeri Language Programme began in 2016 with a language grant that provided for after school Ngarrindjeri lessons. During school time students learned German, switching to Ngarrindjeri after hours.

The success of the programme, along with the determination of the team, saw Ngarrindjeri language lessons replace German for Aboriginal students just 2 years later. Since that time the team have worked tirelessly to embed the programme and now, in 2022, there are 4 Ngarrindjeri language classes being taught (R-3, 4-7, 8-10, 11-12). The highlight for the school is having 9 year 11 and 12 students studying Stage 2 Australian Languages – Revival Language.

The positive impact these language classes have is powerful for students at the school. Their engagement is high, with the subject supporting students to feel valued and included. Parents, caregivers, community and Elders all support and provide positive feedback on the programme, which actively enables intergenerational cultural transmission of knowledge and skills. As a result of embedding Ngarrindjeri language lessons into the curriculum, students are able to bring the language home to the older family members in their communities who didn’t have the opportunity to speak Ngarrindjeri. This is a highlight for many Meningie Area School students and supports their own confidence in their schooling, promoting positive learning behaviours which increasingly translate across other subjects.

The whole school has benefited from powerful Welcomes to Country being presented by many students, Aboriginal artworks and cultural activities at whole of school events. The language programme is building greater cultural awareness for the whole community and building greater understanding between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.

Alison Denee
Kaurna Curriculum Writer, Aboriginal Education Directorate
Curriculum and Learning, Tauondi College
Kaurna Country

An inspiring leader, Alison has immeasurable impact on education community.

Over a 40-year career Alison has worked passionately in both teaching and leadership roles to improve, develop and contribute to inclusive policies and programmes to influence cultural connections within communities.

As a leader Alison instils positive knowledge and perspective to build empathetic relationships with staff and provide opportunities for Aboriginal students to achieve success.

Alison leads workshops and professional development in culturally appropriate practices, resources and curriculum and ensured Aboriginal perspectives are present on all site plans; in this way and many others her work has had a direct impact on improving learner engagement, achievement and wellbeing.

Alison’s journey of teaching the Kaurna language in Adelaide schools began in 2014. She became a member of the Kaurna Warra Karpanthi Aboriginal Language Group, has completed a Certificate IV in Kaurna Language through Tauondi Community College, and has learned from her Elders, including Aunty Josie. Alison has actively sought further funding to expand language teaching and most recently, has worked with another teacher to develop the scope and sequence documents for Kaurna curriculum in our schools, which she completed early this year.

Alison works with community to bring the Kaurna language to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students and inspires further engagement by contacting and encouraging parents to attend informal catch ups. She also attends governing council meetings to support Aboriginal parents to raise issues and engage in discussion, so their voices are heard.

ASETO Team
Murray Bridge High School
Ngarrindjeri Country

The ASETO Team have a thirst for knowledge and collaboration and are there to support and encourage their students.

The ASETO team took a multi-pronged approach to create culturally appropriate educational strategies for the success of Aboriginal students at Murray Bridge High School. Collaborating widely, they were able to introduce, facilitate and contribute to the Aboriginal Learners Education Review Team (ALERT).

The team meet weekly with the broader Aboriginal Education team for a deep focus on selected individual students. Analysis of key attendance, engagement and achievement datasets, along with extensive knowledge of families and community, provides the opportunity for more meaningful connections and opportunities for student growth. In 2022, a double cohort of students transitioning into high school created the potential for students to slip through the cracks. The team went above and beyond to connect with all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and families in all feeder schools. They built positive relationships with each of them while collecting key information such as the students’ educational interests and wellbeing priorities. This enabled the team to support any special interests or initiate any necessary intervention strategies to ensure all students transitioned successfully.

The ASETO Team take all staff on a journey to discover the different perspectives of Aboriginal, specifically Ngarrindjeri, culture. Bespoke cultural competency training on student-free days has been planned and delivered, regular open question times, yarning circles with staff during collaborative professional learning time, curriculum design support and in-class participation all contribute to a shared vision and moral purpose.

Lunch time yarning circles for girls have been created to tell stories while learning different crafts, increasing wellbeing, and belonging.

Staff are highly engaged and want to learn more about Aboriginal culture, which is permeating down into curriculum delivery as well as pedagogical practice resulting in Aboriginal culture being integrated into every lesson.

Site-based Support Award finalists

Aboriginal Education Team
Elizabeth Vale School
Kaurna Country

Enrolments grow as a result of the collaboration and thoroughness of this successful team.

The Elizabeth Vale School (EVS) Aboriginal Education Team is an experienced and highly valued group of educators that have worked hard to ensure Aboriginal inclusion is visible in all policies, planning, management and operations across EVS. Enrolments of Aboriginal students at EVS have consistently increased as a direct result of the work they do.

The team actively advises and supports teachers in the planning and delivery of education programs and monitor and respond to the wellbeing of children in their classes. More broadly, the team also networks with Aboriginal organisations and service providers in the wider community to support families to access the right service at the right time, building confidence and capacity of families to seek support. As a result, the team have not only increased enrolments, but they have received requests to mentor Aboriginal Community Education Officers and Aboriginal Education Teachers from other sites and increased employment of Aboriginal people.  Their work is based on relationships, lived experience, knowledge and a deep understanding of Aboriginal children, their families, communities, and culture.

Facility Dog Program – WAVE
Wirreanda Secondary School
Kaurna Country

This ground-breaking program has significant impacts, helping students uncover their full potential.

The Facility Dog Program demonstrates excellence in practice by supporting and enhancing the learning environment for students in the Wirreanda Adaptive Vocational Education (WAVE) Program. The Facility Dog Program uses a wrap-around approach involving handlers, teachers, case managers and support staff working together to understand the complexity of the young person. This approach uses trauma informed practice to create safety, trust, choice, collaboration, empowerment, and respect for diversity.

Iris, an internationally qualified Facility Dog with Guide Dogs Australia, supports students to attend and remain in class, reducing their anxiety when they feel overwhelmed in SACE subjects and VET short courses. She provides deep pressure therapy and chin rests to students experiencing personal difficulties or trauma and has an immensely positive impact on the emotional state of vulnerable students.

Introduced to contribute to the physical, social, and cognitive development of young people, the program has facilitated successful outcomes in learning, engagement and wellbeing, making a positive impact on students facing extreme challenges and helping them uncover their full potential.

Kathy Stanton
School Support Officer, Elizabeth Downs Primary School
Kaurna Country

A commitment to learning braille evolves into statewide teaching materials.

In 2016 Kathy began working with a student with vision impairment and made a commitment to learn braille, becoming fully fluent in the braille code and braille technologies over the past 6.5 years. This huge undertaking demonstrates Kathy’s dedication to providing exceptional support to the student, family, teaching staff and school leadership at her site.

Kathy has produced and implemented braille-specific programs across all curriculum areas. Her invaluable skillset has provided the student with equitable access to education, empowering the student—who is academically on par with their peers—with a high level of independence while also supporting classroom teachers in curriculum adjustments and delivery of content. In collaboration with the Advisory Teacher, Kathy effectively utilised data to develop and implement programs that included essential universal adjustments to encourage achievement, engagement and wellbeing of her student enabling life-long learning. Kathy has also developed individualised resources to complement teachers’ program and ensure engagement and access to curriculum. One example is producing resources in a braille and tactile format to reinforce braille learning using a multisensory approach. These resources have now been shared across the state with other staff working with students learning braille.

Kathy is regularly a guest presenter at SASSVI Introduction to Vision Impairment Impaired Training and Development days, enthusiastically sharing her knowledge and practical insights on best practice for supporting a braille student.

System Support Award finalists

Digital transformation supporting public education in uncertain times
ICT Digital COVID-19 Response Team
ICT Services
Kaurna Country

Born from a crisis, this team continues to deliver a unique and highly valued service.

At the beginning of 2020 the department had a traditional face-to-face work and learning model. This changed instantly with the onset of the pandemic. The ICT Digital COVID-19 Response team was formed to respond to the changing work and learning environment and implement a responsive, contemporary, and agile digital approach to ensure the uninterrupted service delivery of critical learning and support functions for schools, preschools, and corporate offices. The team sourced and delivered thousands of devices, provided opportunities for teachers to complete specialised training in remote teaching tools - with over 250 sessions held increased capabilities to conduct remote classrooms and meetings through MS Teams, improved site and family communications through the bulk messaging platform and developed new contemporary business applications to reduce the burden on site staff as a result of the pandemic. The team’s mantra during this time was, ‘no call for help will go unanswered’. As the Covid crisis continues to manifest, this team continues to be essential to the department’s response.

Improving Early Reading
Literacy and Numeracy Practice, Curriculum Policy, and Standards
Kaurna Country

Local and global praise have been given to the innovative strategies developed by the team.

The department’s suite of Early Reading Improvement initiatives has been a highly significant and a critical reform. A range of strategies have energised, informed, and inspired teachers and leaders in teaching early reading, leading to an improvement trajectory in our schools. The success lies in clear, evidence-informed advice, high quality professional learning, the Phonics Screening Check and classroom support for early years teachers led by highly skilled literacy coaches. Our state has led the nation and this work has been recognised by reading academics and by other jurisdictions as they’ve adopted our strategies. Nationally and internationally, literacy academics have applauded South Australia’s leadership and provided guidance and advice to the department’s initiatives.

Supporting world leading digital teaching and learning in the country
ICT Services
Kaurna Country

Making education and technology accessible for our most remote students.

To support leading digital teaching and learning in country sites, the Regional Digital Uplift team focused on equity, access, and support. This actively supports the department’s ambition that all children receive a world-class education, regardless of where they live, and helps ensure every student can thrive. Prior to starting this work, country preschools and schools had significant technology barriers which impacted teaching and learning with approximately only 7% of sites across the site having a reliable internet connection. As a result of this work, 99% of all country sites now have a high-speed and stable internet connection with 96% of regional schools opting to be part of the innovative Regional Support Program.

The targeted innovations implemented have centred on the implementation of world-class digital foundations in country preschools and schools, high quality supports delivered through an innovative Regional Support Model and digital enablement training.

Thanks to this work, South Australian public education leads the nation in digital enablement and support in country areas.

Community Engagement Award finalists

Cultural Area and Artefacts Education Learning Platform
Role, Lincoln Gardens Primary School
Barngarla Country

Considered and planned action has important cultural and societal impact.

Lincoln Gardens Primary School is a small, category 1 site. The team challenged themselves to create a positive perception of the school across the community and develop a strong sense of belonging, ownership and cultural understanding among students, families, and the community.

With 95% of the students at Lincoln Gardens Primary School being Aboriginal, the team of leaders, teachers, student support officers and Aboriginal community education officers worked together to build connections through Reconciliation Week and beyond. Over the last 3 years a Cultural Area and Artefacts Education learning platform have been established. The wider community are invited to come in and learn and grow with the site and have participated successfully in cook outs, breakfasts, and other activities designed to support the collaborative development of the site and community. As a result, the school has inspired change, deepened the knowledge of their Aboriginal learners and developed a strong sense of belonging, ownership and cultural understanding amongst whole school community.

Learning at Home
Curriculum and Learning Division and Communications Directorate
Kaurna Country

During a time of great need, the team deliver a new way to learn for our teachers and students.

To provide additional support for families and school communities during term 1 this year when many students were learning from home while isolating, the Curriculum and Learning Division and the Communications Directorate collaborated and mobilised a new Learning at Home team to develop a suite of web-accessible lessons.

Over 17 weeks, the 150-person strong Learning at Home team produced 1,315 lessons and delivered custom digital solutions for families on Our Learning SA to host resources catering to years R-10. Their objective was to meet the urgent and unpredictable needs of our teachers and families while face-to-face learning was disrupted; an objective they achieved successfully while maintaining high-quality continuity of learning.

Learning Together Communities – Central Adelaide
Family Learning - Enfield Primary School
Kaurna Country

Educating parents and engaging community agencies completes the circle of education.

The dedicated and passionate Learning Together Enfield Programs team have worked tirelessly to support families to have increased knowledge, skills and confidence about parenting and children's learning. They’ve demonstrated high level professional initiatives to develop their program to a world class level, with a focus on the development of respectful, trusting relationships and a strength-based approach.

The team have worked intensively and intentionally to develop partnerships with over 25 community agencies which support children with early intervention and families with the additional support they require. For example, through the Learning Together@ home referral-based program, their processes engage families in conversations to support their child’s development through the co-construction of individualised goals with families. The team reflect on progress together with families and partner with them to review the outcomes.

They’ve committed to strengthening community through supporting parents to engage in their child’s early learning and development to improve outcomes for children and supporting parents in their own learning and determination.

Award categories

See categories of the Public Education Awards for a description of each award.

Organisational Development Team

Phone: 8463 4985
Email: PublicEducationAwards [at] sa.gov.au