The Victorian Education Excellence Awards recognise inspirational teachers, principals and support staff who improve young lives and give Victorian children the skills, courage and curiosity they need to be their best.
Twenty-seven individuals and teams from government schools across Victoria were shortlisted for the 2016 awards which will be presented on Friday 28 October at the Plaza Ballroom, Melbourne.
The 2016 team finalists are:
Outstanding Koorie Education Award Finalists
Koorie Education Program
Berwick College has developed a school-wide vision of reconciliation, and recognises that education is the key to unlocking the potential of young Indigenous Australians.
A bicultural learning environment has been created by weaving Aboriginal culture and history into all levels of the school's curriculum. Extensive involvement in themed activities such as National Reconciliation Week also provides opportunities for students to reflect and contribute to Indigenous forums.
Tailored Koorie Career Action Plans ensure the college's 26 students identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander have every opportunity to thrive in work and life.
The College has built strong links with Indigenous communities, both near and far - its Koorie students recently participated in the first of what will become an annual community service camp at the remote Lilla Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory.
Chaffey Secondary College
Koorie Education Team
The Koorie education team at Chaffey Secondary College focuses on cultural pride, traditional learnings and community connections to lift student outcomes, opportunities and confidence.
The team co-designs curriculum with local Elders which empowers students through Indigenous wisdom embedded in classroom, social and cultural activities.
Student engagement levels have been boosted through a combination of targeted support for students experiencing learning difficulties and Indigenous-themed programs such as a Koorie Girls Academy and study tours of traditional sites.
The Koorie education team regularly involves families in school events and has forged strong partnerships with local Indigenous services to develop a positive and supported education journey for all Chaffey students.
Warrnambool Primary School
Changing the Tide @ Jamo - Koorie Inclusion
Warrnambool Primary School's game-changing 'Changing the Tide' program started a decade ago, when the school had few Koorie students and gave limited attention to local culture and history.
Ten years later the school, affectionately known as 'Jamo', is almost 10 per cent Koorie students and has developed a local Indigenous curriculum that is used as a case study by Bastow Institute and the Department of Education and Training.
The Koorie curriculum was developed with the help of local Elders, and helps build cultural pride and connections with both the school and community.
Changing the Tide @ Jamo is an inclusive education program that brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, fostered on the belief that understanding breaks down barriers. The program has delivered positive outcomes for all students, including improvements in Koorie attendance, engagement, wellbeing and achievement.
Outstanding Inclusive Education Award Finalists
Hume Valley School
School Wellbeing and Community Connections
Hume Valley School provides education to students with mild intellectual disabilities. Many children have had no pre-school education and almost half of the 260 students come from homes where English is an additional language.
The complexities faced by the school's Student Wellbeing Team make their significant achievements all the more impressive.
Through a range of education, peer and social interaction programs, meaningful experiences are created for every student – building life skills, caring relationships and vital community connectedness.
Fostering positive relationships with families has also empowered parents to become learners, and to understand and be proud of their children's progress at school.
The academic, behavioural and social outcomes being achieved at Hume Valley School have been sector-recognised as best practice in Positive Behaviour Support.
A re-engagement setting of Red Cliffs Secondary College
Since opening its doors just two years ago, Flexible Learning Options – or FLO Connect –in Mildura has worked with 200 young people in the Sunraysia region to find their way back to education.
A partnership between Red Cliffs Secondary College and Mildura Rural City Council, FLO Connect provides practical and integrated support by a network of educators, businesses and community organisations.
Formerly disengaged teenagers with low self-esteem and poor employment prospects are now thriving in secondary, vocational and tertiary education. Some have even gained part-time work while studying.
The impact of FLO Connect extends way beyond its education focus – transforming troubled teens into positive and purpose driven community members.
Williamstown North Primary School
Inclusive Education - From Theory to Innovative Practice
Diversity is celebrated at Williamstown North Primary School and inclusion is considered 'everybody's core business'.
As one of only a handful of schools awarded accreditation from AMAZE (formerly Autism Victoria), staff go to great lengths to support their 740 students' individual learning abilities and needs.
Following six years of intensive work and innovation, the school has successfully embedded an inclusive culture informed by research, experience and a belief that all children can succeed.
An Inclusion Coordinator was appointed and the 'Butterfly Room' established to provide lessons and support for students with additional needs, as well as a dedicated space for staff and parent interactions and professional learning.
With almost 10 percent of students having a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder or related behavioural characteristics, the school’s suite of bespoke initiatives puts it at the forefront of inclusive learning.
Outstanding School Advancement Award Finalists
Campbells Creek and Guildford Primary Schools
Growing a Community of Maths Learners
Campbells Creek Primary School's successful approach to teaching and learning maths has been captured in a case study and provided to every Victorian public school.
A course at Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership undertaken by the school’s maths leadership team paved the way for a long journey towards researching and customising the school's approach to maths education.
As a result of the changes, identified student skills are at the core of targeted teaching, and levels of engagement have dramatically improved.
The school has shared its story at the Mathematics Association of Victoria's Annual Conference and other schools have visited Campbells Creek, and its annexe site at Guildford, to witness the program in action.
Northern Bay P-12 College
Tallis Street Campus
The Tallis Street Campus of Northern Bay College is a small school with a big story to tell.
In 2014, just 8 per cent of staff agreed that staff morale was high, and 13 per cent believed that students were motivated to learn. In 2016, the same survey shows 96 and 85 per cent respectively.
This dramatic turnaround is the result of a 'flip it' approach by a caring and determined leadership team. Moving from punitive to positive in moderating student behaviour, the Tallis Street team inspired a school-wide cultural revolution with outstanding results.
With a focus on student learning data, collaborative teaching models and engaging new curriculum with partners such as Ford and Deakin University, staff and student outcomes continue to soar for this proud school.
Woori Yallock Primary School
A Whole School Approach
Celebrating success is a daily ritual at Woori Yallock Primary School. A visual chart in every classroom tracks each student's progress, and the bar is often raised to keep up with budding over achievers!
This hasn’t always been the case. In 2011, Woori Yallock was one of the lowest performing schools in the state.
In just five years the school has transformed itself through a process of self-reflection and ambitious goal setting to address identified areas of weakness.
Dynamic leadership and evidence-based strategies have inspired improvements in every performance measure, including literacy and numeracy outcomes, and teacher capacity. Community connectedness is also thriving through innovative early years programs.
Woori Yallock now hosts professional learning programs and observation visits from other schools and has presented at international conferences to share its success.
Outstanding Education Support Team Award Finalists
An experienced student support team works tirelessly to fulfil Berwick College's commitment to student wellbeing, social justice and equality of opportunity set out in its core values.
Three Social Workers, a Chaplain and a Registered Nurse provide a holistic service to support students experiencing learning barriers related to disability, mental health, domestic and social issues.
Involved in all aspects of school life and highly regarded by the school community, the team’s educational and preventative approach includes programs that teach life skills and improve self-worth, resilience, confidence and community participation.
Respectful relationships are modelled as a whole-school culture, and staff are supported to enhance emotional and psychological resilience in vulnerable students.
Maryborough Education Centre - Specialist Setting
Flourishing in an Inclusive School
One of just two combined P-12 and Special Schools in Victoria, Maryborough Education Centre believes it has developed a blueprint for inclusive education.
Integrating mainstream and supported classes on one site, the school’s exceptional team of teacher assistants is providing a boost to learning and social outcomes that are far exceeding initial expectations.
The team describes an ‘unexpected magic’ between its mainstream and special students, with positive outcomes for both anticipated well into the future.
The teacher assistants provide support and mentoring to their colleagues, students and families alike – easing the way for students of all abilities to achieve in academic, interpersonal and social arenas.
The proud team has watched a number of students transition entirely into mainstream classes, while others move seamlessly in and out of areas based on their needs.
Warrnambool East Primary School
The Nurturing Room
Meredith Anderson and Tania Billington are the passionate duo behind the Nurturing Room at Warrnambool East Primary School – a program for vulnerable Prep to Year 2 students who have suffered trauma in their lives.
Students are supported in the Nurturing Room by this skilled team for the first two hours of every school day, before joining regular classrooms, where they are seen to be calmer, more positive and ready to learn.
Through a caring, small-group environment, these young students are experiencing success at school by developing life-altering characteristics including self-worth, confidence and self-regulation.
The aim of the program is to deliver a positive education experience to children whose personal circumstances have compromised their interpersonal skills and learning abilities.