Victorian Education Excellence Awards

​Celebrating outstanding school professionals, the prestigious Victorian Education Excellence Awards (VEEA) are the leading awards for school professionals working in Victoria.

The Victorian Education Excellence Awards recognises inspirational teachers, principals, business managers and education support staff for outstanding dedication and achievement in government education.

​As part of Victoria’s ambition to be the Education State, we want Victorians to be proud of the great government schools in their communities and the people who work in them. For 15 years, the Victorian Education Excellence Awards have celebrated outstanding government school education and innovation in Victoria.

Whether school professionals are inspiring young minds, contributing to educational outcomes or delivering new learning experiences – the Victorian Education Excellence Awards recognises excellence in all shapes and sizes.

2018 VEEA Finalists

Thirty finalists from government schools across Victoria have been shortlisted for the 2018 awards which will be presented at a prestigious award ceremony on Friday 26 October at the Plaza Ballroom, Melbourne. There are five individual awards and four team awards.

2018 Individual Award Finalists

See the finalists for five individual awards for the 2018 Victorian Education Excellence Awards by clicking on the drop down menus.


Outstanding Primary Teacher Award Finalists

Natalie Schilov

Moreland Primary School

As a Grade 5/6 and physical education teacher, Natalie Schilov believes that getting into the hearts of her students – to understand their personalities – is how to connect and communicate to bring out their very best.

Channelling children’s energy and curiosity into project based learning is a big focus of Natalie’s teaching strategies. Using their creative thinking and practical skills, Natalie engrossed her students in an ‘Island project’ where they designed and brought to life a mini community.

The success of the project had a profound effect on the way the Moreland Primary School subsequently set its project-based curriculum.

Natalie says she enjoys hearing her students’ grand ideas, and guiding them towards realistic outcomes that enrich their learning experience. The RACV Human Powered Vehicle Project was one such project. From planning to problem solving, Natalie said students flourished as interdependent learners contributing their ideas and revelling in their abilities.

She believes that every child has passions and goals but not all have the confidence to express them. By making the time to genuinely interact, Natalie creates strong bonds with her students that develop their self-belief and ability to find their voice.

She believes that being a totally engaged teacher enhances their development and learning capacity. This is not lost on the parents of her students, with one parent commenting: “Natalie has a natural gift of getting into children’s hearts and making them believe in themselves”.

Kerri Smith

Fish Creek and District Primary School

Prep teacher at Fish Creek and District Primary School, Kerri Smith, believes that teaching and learning is all about relationships.

Kerri believes children learn best when they’re having fun, and she establishes strong connections with her students by her highly engaging teaching strategies.

She has implemented a range collaborative approaches to learning which encourage higher order thinking skills, team work and independence. She gives all students the opportunity to participate in STEM based activities that challenge them to be creative, problem solve, develop vocabulary and articulate their thinking from a young age.

Kerri ensures her students are continuously growing by setting daily and weekly goals and challenging them to strive for their best. She is a passionate advocate of Growth Mindset and enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion with her students.

Kerri has implemented a buddy program which pairs new prep students with a Year 6 peer, and she organised a “Buddy Bench” to ensure that all students feel included and to encourage empathy and connection with each other.

With 35 years of teaching experience, Kerri is regarded by her colleagues as a lifelong learner who shares her wealth of knowledge as the driving force behind her school’s Professional Learning Teams. She meets with all staff each week to develop their teaching practices and impart any profession learnings from her own classroom programs.

Natalie Karslake

Ballarat Specialist School

Natalie Karslake teaches students with complex educational, communication and health needs. Her caring and intuitive approach is based in her firm belief that every child is capable of learning and achieves the greatest outcomes through a positive learning experience.

Natalie develops engaging lessons to cater for her students’ individual abilities and emotional needs. Through effective collaboration with parents and carers, Natalie achieves a deep understanding of her students and tunes into how they’re feeling and coping with their activities.

Natalie writes informative reports that not only map student progress, but aim to empower parents and carers with knowledge about exactly what the students can do, and their future focus. This creates a consistency of approach from school to home.

As a professional learning team leader, Natalie knows the positive impact partnerships have on improving student outcomes. She supports colleagues to deliver consistently high-quality education through circulating current research, and she regularly attends professional development activities to ensure she is abreast of current best practice in her field of expertise.

Natalie also constantly reflects on her own teaching practices to improve and ensure her students are receiving the positive and quality of education she is committed to give every child in her care.

Outstanding Secondary Teacher Award Finalists

Cassandra Marinopoulos

Berwick College

Mathematics teacher, Cassandra Marinopoulos, believes that meeting the individual learning needs of students across the spectrum of abilities happens through understanding how they learn. Cassandra is involved in her school’s Getting Ready in Numeracy (GRIN) program which works to instill a growth mindset in mathematics students who might otherwise underachieve in the subject.

Cassandra has undertaken extensive professional learning in literacy and mathematics teaching and learning strategies, and shared her knowledge as the driving force of peer collaboration at Berwick College.

She supports the learning and development of colleagues by demonstrating a wide range of teaching strategies through the use of inquiry, evidence-based methods and evaluating their impact on student learning.

Cassandra collaborated with the college’s Engagement and Inclusion Leader to deliver professional learning workshops for integration aides to build their capacity to differentiate and support literacy for students of all abilities.

Cassandra aims to create a culture of supportiveness with high expectations, and to instill a growth mindset in all students, whether they be highly academic, or with additional needs.

Cassandra is an integral support to students funded under the Program for Students with Disabilities, and concurrently leads her school’s High Achievers Program. She is described as having a unique ability to improve the learning outcomes of the most gifted students as well as engage those students most at risk of not completing Year 12.

Cassandra has played a key role in enhancing whole school accountability for quality teaching and learning, and building a culture of collaboration with her peers to positively impact student learning.

Tony Vallance

Lilydale High School

Learning Specialist and STEAM Coordinator at Lilydale High School, Tony Vallance believes that his students become powerful in an environment that fosters creativity and critical thinking.

From placing multimodal learning activities at the core of his pedagogy, he developed the STEAMworks flexible learning space, where students are making remarkable strides in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

Students are engaged in activities such as robotics, engineering principles, computer-assisted design, 3D printing, electronics and virtual reality in a team-centred, project-based learning setting. They’re highly motivated and innovative.

A ‘STEAM Queens’ lunchtime workshop is also inspiring future female scientists to get hands-on with technology. The weekly club came about after Tony noticed that female students were often devising the most creative and complex prototypes. The club provides a safe space for girls to try new ideas and equipment and connect with fellow female engineers of the future. The students are the architects of their projects while Tony leads from behind as a supportive guide.

Tony’s pedagogy is personalised, dynamic and student centred. He establishes rapport with students quickly and seeks to empower them. He uses narrative and movement to engage students in contemporary, contextualised content delivery when it is needed to convey important concepts.

Tony’s impact on student engagement at Lilydale High School has been tangible. Just 12 months after arriving at the school, the number of Year 12 biology classes increased from one to three due to student demand. Tony was instrumental in establishing a collaborative, team teaching based focus for the subject and as a result, enrolments and outcomes both rose significantly.

John Lane

Sunbury College

John Lane is the Middle Years Program Leader at Sunbury College. He teaches health, physical education and personal development.

John is passionate about the role of student voice and agency. His teaching is designed and informed by a range of diagnostic and student feedback processes that he’s introduced, including student surveys where he asks for (and acts on) feedback about his teaching. He has also led the process of developing a generic whole-school survey tool for his colleagues to get feedback from students on their classroom practices.

John’s advocacy for student voice sees him play a major role in overseeing the Student Representative Council, where he works with student leaders to make sure they are empowered to run the SRC meetings and student involvement processes.

He also coordinates Sunbury College’s annual Open Day where he develops powerful roles for students in musical performance, coordinating activities, speaking to visitors and working as guides and ambassadors.

John is committed to helping his students extend their skills and take on new challenges. He strives to engage them in meaningful experiences that contribute to their personal development, while reinforcing positive academic growth.

John is also involved with students with complex or additional needs. He is highly regarded for his work in keeping ‘at risk’ students engaged at school and creating the inclusive supports needed to improve their self-esteem and self-efficacy.

John believes that aspiration and achievement follow engagement and wellbeing, and that there’s no greater satisfaction than helping students to accomplish this.

Outstanding Primary Principal Award Finalists

Jane Satchwell

Chelsea Heights Primary School

As principal of Chelsea Heights Primary School, Jane Satchwell is proud of the journey she’s taken with her whole school community, to achieve a vision of ‘High Standards, High Expectations’.

Jane took the school from an environment entrenched in a mindset of disadvantage, to one where staff, students and community believe that all students can succeed.

Data indicated a need for the school to change its social climate and the initial challenge for Jane and her team was to transform the belief that demographics led to low performance.

Through enhancing staff collaboration, community cohesion and student-centred learning, Jane led a whole-school transition guided by the core principles of Professional Learning Communities.

The school’s vision statement: ‘High Standards: High Expectations’ strove for clarity and simplicity to ensure strong understanding and application across the whole school community.

New targets for social and academic student success were to be achieved by developing a learning environment that was safe and conducive to learning, and delivering clear and focused teaching instruction, with frequent monitoring and intervention.

The result has been outstanding. Jane’s eight-year journey with Chelsea Heights Primary has seen the school culture move from being under-performing and reactive to collaborative, professional and adaptive to the changing educational needs of the school’s students and whole-school community. Sustained medium to high literacy and numeracy growth has been achieved, student behavioural issues significantly decreased and the school’s culture is one of inclusion and collective responsibility to support all students to achieve their best.

Julie Gilbert

Croydon Primary School

Croydon Primary School principal, Julie Gilbert, believes that a holistic education, where a child’s social, emotional and academic needs are equally considered, achieves the greatest outcomes.

With a school population comprising 66 percent refugees, Julie has led comprehensive change in the way curriculum and care are delivered so that every student can achieve academic and personal growth.

Julie created programs that would directly support student needs, and every staff member was upskilled to become an English as an additional language teacher. Funding and equity funds were channelled to facilitate smaller class sizes and provide additional literacy support and specialist teachers.

Formative assessments, differentiated learning and respectful relationships underpinned a whole-school transition. As a result, student results increased in excess of state levels.

As well as academic gains, Julie has also created an inclusive and safe school community through the introduction of a range of innovative community hub projects to support local families. As a result, there is a palpable sense of cohesion within the school community.

Strong community partnerships were forged through an incredible collaborative journey for staff, students and community, and the right strategic interventions were implemented to give all students a stimulating and motivating environment that promotes a love of learning.

Robin Stickland

Vermont Primary School

Robin Stickland has led the realisation of her school’s vision to create exceptional student learning experiences and far-reaching community outcomes.

As principal of Vermont Primary School, Robin says the values of innovation, leadership and collaboration have been the pillars of her school’s success.

By working closely with the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, Vermont Primary School became one of the first schools to implement innovative new digital technologies.

The opening of Victoria’s first purpose-built kindergarten on a school site – at Vermont Primary – was another leading milestone, which provides an invaluable service to local families.

An Olympic-sized sports stadium at the school which delivers key student programs is also a vital resource for the entire local community. It was Robin’s vision and hard work over five years that made this facility a reality, and has supported many students in achieving national recognition in their chosen sport.

Robin is also a passionate mentor, who shares her knowledge and provides leadership opportunities to others and demonstrates her commitment to building and enhancing communities of learning. She facilitates the Bastow Institute Inspire Course for aspiring leaders, and has implemented a Peer Improvement Team initiative that promotes and facilitates teacher collaboration.

By staying at the forefront of education excellence, Robin believes the opportunities for her students, staff and wider community are unlimited, and her role in facilitating these is vital.

Peter Auchettl

Warrnambool Primary School

As Principal of Warrnambool Primary School, Peter Auchettl is a passionate school leader who places students at the centre of decision making. He believes that high quality teaching and learning are strategically planned and monitored, and that high expectations of staff, students and parents is a cornerstone of school improvement.

Peter has led the introduction of whole school programs and professional development to lift student achievement in maths and literacy at Warrnambool Primary School. He also spearheaded the school’s work in becoming a STEM school which has seen the development of a 'purpose built' science curriculum embedded across the school from Foundation through to Year 6.

As Principal and Network Chair, Peter has demonstrated a strong capacity to influence the broader community through inclusive programs and policies. He has a strong commitment to the public education system as exemplified through his leadership and involvement in the Marrung Regional Partnership Forums, Regional Reviews and Principal Conferences.

Being an experienced Principal, Peter says he feels a moral obligation to prepare future leaders. He is an accredited GROWTH Coach, has mentored new Principals through the Bastow 'Evolve' program and is a facilitator of the Bastow 'Inspire' program for aspiring young leaders.

Peter says his achievements are the outcome of surrounding himself with a team of colleagues who challenge him, share his vision, are accountable, passionate and put students needs first. He believes that student improvement should not be just confined to academic outcomes but also encompass development of the whole child, emotionally and socially.

Outstanding Secondary Principal Award Finalists

Robert Pyers

Horsham College

As principal of Horsham College, Robert Pyers has led the revival of his school over the past five years.

Robert has turned around declining student numbers and community confidence in the college through his vision and demonstration of trust, care and high expectations for staff and students alike.

Robert believes that empowering and valuing the professionalism of staff with the right model of leadership and support is critical for a school to deliver exceptional student outcomes.

By establishing a distributive leadership structure and professional learning communities, Robert created a strong collegial climate at Horsham College that has been embraced by staff and transformed the school’s curriculum development, teaching practices and student learning outcomes.

A collective responsibility for student progress and achievement has been instilled among staff with the introduction of a whole-school literacy and numeracy plan, supported by the development of common assessments and an instructional teaching model. Strong collaborative practices initiated by Robert have also led to effective new evidence-based teaching and learning strategies.

Robert says the Department’s Framework for Improving Student Outcomes has guided the transformation of the college, and remains a critical tool in planning, monitoring and celebrating its progress.

Under Robert’s leadership, Horsham College has achieved significant gains in its numeracy, literacy and VCE outcomes.

Local community confidence has been re-established and Horsham College is considered a school of choice for students and educators alike.

Nick Scott

Maribyrnong Secondary College

As the principal of Maribyrnong Secondary College and Maribyrnong Sports Academy, Nick Scott was charged with the role of leading and integrating a college of two distinct student cohorts.

Since 2009, Nick has led the revitalisation of Maribyrnong’s mainstream school and sports academy which is now internationally recognised for its development of elite young athletes.

Much like a recipe for sporting success, Nick describes the College’s story as one of vision, passion and endurance.

The college has been reconceived and re-energised inside and out. Under Nick’s inspiration and leadership, the college has been transformed by an ambitious program of upgrades and improvements involving physical infrastructure, teacher recruitment, curriculum innovation and student culture.

Major capital works were undertaken to update ageing 1950s school infrastructure, and a $20million sports stadium and fields were constructed to support the college’s ambitious sports academy program.

Nick undertook the recruitment of exceptional educators and led an intensive program of collaboration to develop best practice curriculum and instructional teaching models.

And he set about re-engaging the local community by implementing an aspirational school culture that embraces the school’s multicultural families and fosters values of inclusion and achievement for all.

The transformation of Maribyrnong Secondary College has resonated beyond the college’s gates. Community pride and confidence is at an all-time high, and the college’s achievements have been recognised by educational institutes world-wide.

Robert Duncan

Narre Warren South P-12 College

Robert Duncan believes there is no greater purpose for a public school than its contribution to the lives and outcomes of its local community.

As principal of Narre Warren South P-12 College, Robert has led the transition of his school since 2015 to become a leading and thriving centre of education excellence.

Under Robert’s leadership, the school has made significant progress in programs that will have lifelong outcomes for its growing population of students.

Empowering students through viable student pathways matched to their aspirations has seen the school’s highly successful VCAL, VET and VCE programs delivering great destinations for Narre Warren South students moving from school into work, training and higher education pathways.

Major growth in literacy and numeracy has also been achieved through data-driven teaching strategies to support students with additional needs and those from migrant backgrounds.

In addition, Robert has forged school-community partnerships and led key funding initiatives that will extend the reach and value of the school, including a soon-to-be constructed joint-use state of the art soccer pitch and a performing arts centre.

Robert’s vision for sustainable school improvement embodies everything that impacts student learning and outcomes.

From resource management, facility upgrades and leadership development to parent engagement and community partnerships – Robert says he is proud to work with a team of exceptional educators delivering the very best for his whole school community.

Kerrie Dowsley

St Albans Secondary College

More than 70 nationalities are represented within the culturally diverse school community of St Albans Secondary College. Principal Kerrie Dowsley says this provides a wonderful opportunity to develop a culture and learning environment that supports students of all backgrounds and abilities.

Kerrie’s commitment to fostering the academic and personal development of each student has played an integral role in the school’s focus on delivering a Managed Individual Pathway for every student from Year 9 to Year 12.

Comprehensive curriculum and intervention support programs are offered to students with identified needs across literacy, numeracy and English as an additional language. The supportive environment culminates in a viable pathway for students in their senior years at the college, which has seen 93 percent of Year 12 students in 2017 pursue further education and training.

Under Kerrie’s leadership, the college has developed targeted evidence-based interventions as well as extension programs to assist students at every stage of their learning and development.

Specialist numeracy tutoring is available to middle years learners, while top achievers are offered university mentoring programs and scholarships.

It is Kerrie’s commitment to give every student the opportunity to be challenged, inspired, supported and enriched – to realise their individual potential.

Outstanding Business Manager Award Finalists

Alison Galloway

John Monash Science School

Business manager Alison Galloway joined John Monash Science School in 2009 at its inception, which has given her the opportunity to play a key role – as a member of the executive leadership team – in shaping the school’s direction and success.

Alison has led the financial management of the school to help realise its vision of providing cutting-edge STEM learning to Victorian students.

She established the school’s Unique Opportunity Fund, which enables students from disadvantaged backgrounds to access international science fairs and present their research. Also, the Emerging Sciences Victoria project where students across the state can take science electives at John Monash Science School in real time via virtual studio. These programs are thriving and changing lives.

Alison’s endeavours have been pivotal in the establishment of policies, practices and procedures in finance and human resources that have enabled the school to achieve outstanding outcomes. She has successfully navigated the integration of the school’s staffing and maintenance systems into the procedures of Monash University, and has developed the capacity of her staff to such an extent that many can now take on multiple roles in their broad areas of work.

Her financial management has brought funds into the school and allowed John Monash Science School to build and extend its many exemplary programs both for its students and teachers, those in the wider Victorian education system and, now internationally, via the International Science School Network, of which John Monash Science School is an Executive member.

Kari Simmons

Mount Waverley Secondary College

As business manager at Mount Waverley Secondary College, Kari Simmons leads a team of over 50 education support staff across two campuses of almost 1900 students.

Kari is held in high regard by her colleagues and students alike for her commitment to implementing changes that make the greatest difference to student achievement and wellbeing outcomes.

She strongly believes in ‘student voice’ playing a key role in in decisions that impact their learning environment. This is most evident in Kari’s involvement in the school’s internationally recognised student voice program, where she regularly attends student led forums to listen and discuss students’ ideas on facility and resource improvements.

Kari believes that engaging the school’s student leadership group in such discussions is also a great opportunity to educate them about what is involved – including school priorities and procurement guidelines – in making these important decisions.

Achieving the college’s vision of improving its environmental impact is a passionate pursuit for Kari. She has implemented strategies that have enhanced recycling rates and reduced waste costs. She also engaged the student Green Team to facilitate a vertical garden.

Creating inspiring learning environments is something Kari is passionate about. She believes it plays a significant role in student success. Kari’s work in this area is considered by her colleagues as having directly increased student connectedness across the college.

Chris Dickson

Warrnambool College

Warrnambool College business manager Chris Dickson has a deep commitment to government education and the important role of education support staff and business managers in facilitating great student outcomes.

Chris is admired by colleagues right across the greater Warrnambool school network for her in-depth knowledge of government school sector policies and guidelines, and strong financial management ability.

Chris constantly demonstrates her commitment to building her own professional competencies but also that of others. She organised network support and speakers for a regional professional development day, and also initiated a business managers course at South West TAFE which has had very strong attendance across Warrnambool, Hamilton and Portland. This vital professional development initiative is a testament to Chris’s passion and hard work towards the needs of all government schools in her regional network.

Chris regularly assists principals and business managers of other small schools with human resource management, financial planning and Departmental policy. Her colleagues comment that she gives of her working knowledge “completely and selflessly, with a genuine desire to help and see improvement in other government schools”.

Through strategic budget management and enterprises such as four on-campus businesses, including a swimming school and international students’ program, Chris has sought and enabled ongoing funding for programs.

She’s successfully supported the school leadership team in preparing grant applications for facility upgrades such as the technology and arts wings, worth over $5 million, which has enabled new heights of innovation at her college.

2018 Team Award Finalists

See the four team awards finalists for the 2018 Victorian Education Excellence Awards by clicking on the drop down menus.

Outstanding Koorie Education Award Finalists

Bruthen Primary School

From the moment students walk through Bruthen Primary School’s front gates, the school’s proud connection with its Koorie community and culture is clear.

Over the past two years, the small school of just 45 students has developed a program that embeds Aboriginal language and culture into every classroom, for every student.

A truly collaborative effort between students, staff, parents, community Elders and Koorie Engagement Support Officers has delivered outstanding outcomes through their united enthusiasm and commitment to explore the stories of the past and work towards a positive future.

In 2017, the school’s Student Attitude to School Survey achieved 88th percentile for sense of inclusion. This is in no small way due to the Koorie education program’s success in teaching principles of understanding, empathy and pride.

Positive academic outcomes have also been achieved, with notable improvements in the school’s literacy and numeracy benchmarks since the Koorie education program was introduced.

Bruthen Primary is deeply proud of its Koorie Culture and Language Program, which it puts at the core of all student learning. It also shares its success by working with other local schools to help establish their own culturally inclusive program.

Melton West Primary School

Melton West Primary School recognises the importance of an education system that demonstrates inclusion. It acknowledges the importance placed on connection, family and identity for its Koorie students and their families, and provides an education setting that is open to learning about Aboriginal culture and histories and embedding this within their curriculum.

At the outset of a student’s education journey, the school identifies its Koorie students’ academic, personal development and wellbeing needs and puts in place supports to give them a strong foundation for learning.

With the invaluable support of a Koorie Engagement Support Officer, the school has created an environment of inclusion and respect that supports our students to explore and embrace their heritage.

Parents are actively encouraged to engage with their child’s schooling, and local Elders are involved in significant celebrations – to strengthen students’ sense of cultural connection and pride.

The school has developed Inquiry Units of Work with an Aboriginal perspective for each year level. The involvement of an Aboriginal community Elder has ensured the curriculum is authentic and student learning is deep.

Melton West Primary School is proud of its achievements in Koorie education and now shares its learnings as a mentor to other schools developing their own culturally inclusive programs.

Dirrawarra Proud and Deadly Awards

The Dirrawarra Proud and Deadly Awards are an annual celebration of the educational and personal achievements of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Members from the Department’s Ovens Murray Area KESO team have built a strong relationship with the Dirrawarra Indigenous Network in Wangaratta. This has led to the establishment of a dedicated event planning committee of local Aboriginal community members, schools, tertiaries, local council and Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community organisation representatives.

Award categories are developed from a strengths-based model and link to the Victorian Curriculum. A variety of disciplines are recognised including academic, community, sporting, leadership and creative arts awards, with a special acknowledgement award for students who complete Year 12.

Now in its sixth year, the success of the awards is tangible with participation having increased by over 300 percent since its inception. This significant growth reflects the wider impact of the awards in raising student aspirations, with many students across the region striving to achieve a Dirrawarra Proud and Deadly Award.

Each year the program’s award categories are reviewed to ensure their relevance and that they meet the needs of the student cohort.

The Dirrawarra Proud and Deadly Awards represent a commitment to improving educational outcomes and creating steadfast relationships between the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, the Department of Education and Training, and local schools.

Outstanding Inclusive Education Award Finalists

Bayside Special Developmental School

Bayside Special Developmental School has taken a unique approach to teaching high needs students with complex intellectual disabilities.

The individualised support used to ensure that students are successfully included is the result of a decade of constant professional development and observation.

The school’s teaching teams combine their skills to learn the nuances of behaviour and response that maximise the support they can provide for the diverse range of individual communication styles and preferences they encounter within the school.

Student learning is identified using a process of moderation which links the school’s community of practice with local and interstate communities of practice. In-house professional learning is the result of robust cycles of collaboration and constructive, supportive feedback shared among peers.

The implementation of this program is also consistently monitored and scrutinised to ensure that while practices remain differentiated, they are underpinned by inclusive principles. The use of video is an important tool in all learnings – with regular video vignettes of students engaged in their personally relevant learning activities recorded. The videos are archived and used to inform report writing and discussions with parents, and to highlight emergent learning and student achievement over a period of time. The videos are also invaluable in helping staff to reflect on their teaching approaches and continue to respond to students fluidly changing needs with best practice.

Bayside SDS is proud of its achievements and proactively collaborates and shares its outcomes with its local, national and international peers.

Irymple Primary School

Irymple Primary School is proud of a five-year journey that has significantly reduced the barriers to learning for its students with additional needs.

Inclusive practice and culture is at the core of Irymple Primary School’s commitment to deliver an equitable and positive learning climate for every student.

The school has focused on providing a supportive setting which is responsive to student's backgrounds, interests and skills. It has been proactive in adapting its culture, policies and practices to accommodate students with additional needs so that they feel safe and valued at all times.

An intensive period of research and professional development has enabled its educators to design and deliver high-impact inclusive teaching and learning strategies.

Language and literacy programs have been a key focus, as the school recognises the inherent value of communication skills in student self-esteem and inclusive outcomes.

Strong networks with community agencies have also been forged to provide vital support where complex student needs are identified.

A whole-school vision has encompassed every aspect of school life; to deliver the physical, teaching and social supports needed for Irymple Primary School deliver a positive learning experience for every student.

Warringa Park School

“Imagine the possibilities” is a vision that Warringa Park School instils in all of its students and staff.

The school’s leadership team oversees a multi-campus P to 12 specialist school with over 500 students to whom it is committed to providing learning experiences that create the best possible lifelong outcomes.

Individual Learning Plans support the unique abilities and potential of every student. From specialist activities for their youngest cohort, to pathway programs for senior levels; the learning journey is intended to be rich and rewarding for all.

The school’s ‘Learning Centres’ are shaped by what students require to succeed. Every learning space is differentiated and personalised so instruction is delivered in a flexible manner with technology readily available to engage students and accelerate learning.

Strong community networks are a priority, with school, industry and tertiary partnerships creating outstanding opportunities for students.

Students gain practical skills through industry and structured workplace learning offered to every student in Years 11-12. The school’s ‘Café 11’ social enterprise also provides hospitality skills experience for students in Years 9-11.

Warringa Park has also demonstrated its commitment to The Arts through various community partnerships that have enriched student learning through imaginative and creative activities in visual and performing arts.

Warringa Park is a leader in its education sphere, participating in local and international collegial exchanges that share and strengthen their practices.

North East Flexible Learning Network, Wodonga Senior Secondary College

A partnership program spanning four campuses in the North Eastern region is transforming the education futures of disengaged students.

Developed in 2015, the North East Flexible Learning Network (NEFLN) campuses in Benalla, Seymour, Shepparton and Wodonga address the needs of disengaged students to bring them back into the educational fold.

After experiencing trauma, mental health problems, out-of-home care or youth justice issues, many of the students have missed significant amounts of formal education and are behind their peers before they even start schooling. By recognising the barriers, identifying learning needs and scaffolding tasks, the NEFLN seeks to empower young people for life by boosting their academic and social achievements to build self-worth and confidence.

More than 400 young people now connect to the network and have embarked on aspirational pathways designed for seamless transition and support.

At the heart of the system are individual learning plans, mentor teachers, one-on-one and group learning, as well as online learning.

The network has successfully embedded inclusive cultures in safe and welcoming environments. Each campus has strong links to support services in schools and local communities to help students develop resilience and self-determination.

Staff involved in the program have found the engagement with families to be especially rewarding, as parents watch their children transform into proud, confident young achievers.

Outstanding School Advancement Award Finalists

Monmia Primary School

Described by network leaders as an exemplar Professional Learning Community, Monmia Primary School made deliberate and calculated changes to transform the school’s culture into one of continuous improvement.

Monmia is a multicultural school, and a third of its students are from low socio-economic backgrounds. The school aimed to make measurable and ambitious gains and achieve more than one year’s growth in reading, writing and mathematics.

The principal established the Guiding Coalition, a collaboration between teaching and learning leaders whose purpose was to address school improvement and accelerated growth. They used evidence-based methods to ensure that everyone was engaged in the right work, with the right people.

The leadership team took the words from leading educational theorists and put them into action, changing the mindset of teachers to accept and respond to constructive feedback from students, and vice versa.

Families previously uninvolved in the school were engaged through a variety of community events, lifting the sense of school connectedness felt by parents.

By 2016, relative growth in reading was well above the achievement of similar schools, and in 2017 the school surpassed all expectations and achieved high levels of relative growth in overall literacy and numeracy testing scores.

Monmia’s success is largely due to the vision of achievement embraced by the whole school community, demonstrating that when everyone unites, students learning improves.

Narre Warren South P-12 College

Creating a culture of aspiration and achievement has been the catalyst to Narre Warren South P-12 College’s incredible transformation over the past three years.

Through an intensive focus on student data and responsive teaching, the school’s leadership team led the implementation of a school-wide teaching and learning model in 2015 that triggered fundamental changes to the way its curriculum was designed and delivered.

An unwavering focus on data-driven priority setting was also introduced - placing benefits and improved outcomes for students at the core of every leadership decision made.

A College Wellbeing Centre was established to provide holistic support for students with complex or additional needs. The centre provides a range of support services through its experienced staff, including counsellors, youth workers, a speech pathologist, a chaplain and a psychologist.

Strong parent and community partnerships have also been forged – the school opening its doors to sporting clubs, language schools and other community organisations to cement the college as the heart of the Narre Warren South community.

Significant capital works programs to deliver whole-community resources have also been undertaken – renewing local family engagement and pride in the school.

The leadership team is focused on giving every student the life skills and pathway to succeed beyond their time at Narre Warren South P-12 College. They have raised expectations for the school and their students have responded – with success shining through in opinion surveys and achievement data, including NAPLAN, VCAL and VCE results.

Swan Hill Cluster Professional Learning Community

Lake Boga Primary School, Swan Hill Primary School, Nyah District Primary School, Woorinen District Primary School, Swan Hill Specialist School

Teaching in small rural communities brings a range of logistical challenges in relation to accessing professional learning and development. To remedy this, a group of four rural primary schools, and a specialist school, in the Swan Hill region formed a professional learning community.

State testing revealed that improving students’ writing abilities was a key area of initial focus. Each school nominated instructional leaders to guide the initiative, with the aim of achieving consistent, quality teaching and learning across the cluster.

The professional learning community metaphorically dismantled school walls and worked collaboratively to explore, trial, modify and implement the best evidence-based teaching practices.

The Framework for Improving Student Outcomes model was used to guide the implementation of consistent teaching practice and assessment, and a common platform was established to achieve the consistency in teaching quality being strived for.

The ultimate goal was for every student to demonstrate sustained writing growth. Shared data revealed an overall result of improved teacher effectiveness and significant improvements in students’ writing, with the majority of students showing at least 12 months growth in 12 months.

The invaluable outcomes created by the Swan Hill Cluster Professional Learning Community have been recognised by the five respective school principals who have committed to the important initiative continuing in 2018 and beyond.

The impact of the cluster’s work cannot be underestimated – having created opportunities and outcomes for students that would not have been previously available or accessible in remote, small communities.

Outstanding Education Support Team Award Finalists

The Operation Newstart Team

The Operation Newstart Team is a collaboration of 10 education support staff across five locations in Melbourne and Geelong. The team is dedicated to preventing young people from prematurely disengaging from school, by developing viable education and employment pathways and supporting young people to navigate their way through.

Operation Newstart identifies ‘at risk’ students early and puts inclusive supports in place to achieve the best possible outcomes for them. The program uses a combination of experiential learning, wilderness therapy, family group work, mediation, counselling and community connectedness.

Most of the program’s participants have experienced significant trauma in their life and disruption to their formal schooling. Operation Newstart creates transformative opportunities for them to participate in recreational, vocational and therapeutic activities.

These positive experiences empower them to understand themselves and others, and to better manage relationships and life. The results have been amazing, with more than 85 percent of participants returning to school.

The Operation Newstart Team say one of the greatest outcomes of the program is unlocking young people’s ability to believe in themselves and know they can succeed.

Melbourne Girls’ College

The education support team at Melbourne Girls’ College knows that their decisions have significant outcomes for staff, students and the broader school community.

The Operational Integrity Team formed with a goal to improve the planning and administration of the school’s funding and resources to best support student achievement.

The team identified that previous processes were at odds with the school’s strategic priorities and best intentions for their students. The school conducts around 600 activities a year, and data from May 2015 showed that 146 of those were unplanned or did not align with budgetary priorities.

Importantly, the team worked closely with the school community to ensure they understood the Department’s governance structure relating to financial systems, and processes with a specific emphasis on student resources in the classroom, and processes around financial hardship.

Embracing the Department’s core values, and with a firm focus on the value of Integrity, the Operational Integrity Team engaged teaching staff, students and parents in a vision that puts student learning and wellbeing at the forefront of every decision.

Ad hoc activities were reduced to 35 in 2017, then 12 in 2018. Having a shared vision meant money was spent where it was most needed.

The education support team now regularly shares its success through peer networks; keen to collaborate, continuously improve and impart their learnings across the sector.

Moorooduc Primary School

The team of seven Education Support staff at Moorooduc Primary School is a tight-knit group who meet weekly to discuss the progress of their students. This regular assessment ensures student engagement remains high by only giving children tasks pitched right at their level. Such an approach has brought big results for a team responsible for helping students at risk of underperforming in literacy.

Another key to the team’s success has been in their commitment to innovation, and adapting approaches to engage struggling students, be it with singing, introducing puzzles to calm a sensitive child, or making toast and Milo in the staffroom with the student who has trouble concentrating. Getting to know students well means they can tailor activities to their interests.

The team has been instrumental in creating a classroom sensory and ‘chill out’ space. The space incorporates mini trampolines, fit balls for gross motor challenges for students who need to reset their behaviour, and mirrors for speech intervention.

As part of the school's professional learning community, the team works cohesively with teaching staff. They use programs that are demonstrated to improve literacy outcomes, and constantly monitor their educational and social progress. Together, the team devises ways to extend students, and the delivery always involves humour.

They’ve accomplished significant improvements academically, as well as increasing student engagement and wellbeing.