2019 award winners

The winners of the 2019 Victorian Education Excellence Awards were selected from a shortlist of 35 finalists from government schools across Victoria. Five individual awards, four team awards and three specialist awards were presented to recognise outstanding endeavour and achievement in improving student outcomes.

In addition, the Lindsay Thompson Award for Excellence in Education was awarded to one overall winner whose contribution was judged to be the most outstanding to Victorian school education.

Congratulations to all of the 2019 Award winners.

Lindsay Thompson Award for Excellence in Education

Michelle Roberts

Mordialloc College


Specialist Awards

Dr Lawrie Shears Excellence in Global Teaching and Learning Award

Birmingham Primary School


As a school accredited by the Council of International Schools, Birmingham Primary School is committed to developing its students as global citizens and prioritising excellence in global learning across all year levels in a stimulating learning environment.

The school has partnered with Monash University to introduce a global education specialist subject program premised on the Victorian Curriculum. The program aims to help students understand their place in the world through the development of critical and creative thinking, equipping them with the knowledge, skills and abilities to become global citizens.

The Future Problem Solving Program is focused on developing the intercultural understanding of students through studying issues that will become prevalent in the near future, such as disappearing languages across the globe and the ethical treatment of animals.

The school is proud to be one of four Australian schools to participate in the International School-to-School Experience, an international exchange student program that has seen it welcome students and staff from many countries including Mexico, Malaysia, Peru, China and India.

Excellence in Physical Education and Activity - Primary Teacher Award

Dominic McCaffrey, Albany Rise Primary School


Dominic McCaffrey believes effective learning and development only happens when you create an authentic connection between students and teachers in a safe and supportive environment.

Dominic is a Physical Education Teacher at Albany Rise Primary School. He fosters high expectations of self-efficacy and resilience among students and encourages them to believe they can succeed and thrive in a safe and supportive learning environment.

He has implemented a comprehensive, whole-school sequential Physical Education program and developed further units of work to enhance deeper levels of learning, including the Teaching Games for Understanding model.

Dominic successfully initiated a ‘student versus teacher’ games week for Year 6 students to promote resilience during transition to secondary education and encourage greater participation in a variety of sports. This has led to greater participation by girls through building a Year 5/6 young women’s football team and supporting the creation of two female cricket teams.

Dominic has also introduced the School Wide Positive Behaviour Support framework to improve social, emotional, behavioural and academic outcomes throughout the school.

Excellence in Physical Education and Activity – Secondary Teacher Award

Whitney Kennedy, Swan Hill College


As Physical Education Teacher at Swan Hill College, Whitney Kennedy believes that establishing motivation is the key to building effective relationships with students.

She sets high expectations and constantly seeks out up-to-date information and tools that she believes will connect with her students.

Whitney works hard to create and sustain positive, open relationships with parents. She is approachable and open at all times.

She also collaborated with her colleagues to introduce the ‘Moving Minds’ program, with the intention to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of the college community, as well as build resilience and coping strategies among students.

The program has a strong focus on the benefits of physical activity and its links to mental health and wellbeing. It includes the promotion of daily activities that anyone can do, combining short reflection tasks, daily exercise, short meditation sessions and a healthy diet.

Team Awards

Outstanding Education Support Team Award

Clifton Springs Primary School


The Inclusion Support Team at Clifton Springs Primary School knows that students have individual regulation and self-management requirements that constantly change during the day.

In response to parent and student feedback, the team developed three programs to improve student wellbeing and engagement through providing support both in and out of the classroom: the Just Right Zone; the Sensory Motor Program; and the Life Skills Program.

The Just Right Zone is a whole school approach to identifying, obtaining and maintaining self-regulation needs of all students throughout the day without removing students from the classroom.

The Sensory Motor Program is a routine of individualised sensory motor activities implemented outside the classroom to allow students to maintain focus and positive interactions when they return to class.

The Life Skills Program prepares students to go out in the community and make a contribution.

These programs have positively impacted the health and wellbeing of students, their motivation to learn and academic performance. There have also been improvements in students’ attitude towards school and their social outcomes.

Outstanding Inclusive Education Award

Horsham Special School


Horsham Special School has become a hub of professional learning for schools in the area.

The leadership team has developed a range of professional learning workshops for regional colleagues who also work with students with complex and diverse needs.

These professional learning sessions support the ability of educators to understand their students and how they learn. They cover a range of topics including language and communication, emotional and sensory regulation and neuroplasticity.

The workshops are complemented by an ‘on-demand’ coaching service that supports the school’s ability to provide additional support for specific students.

The project’s overwhelmingly positive impact is demonstrated by survey results from over 1000 attendees. One hundred percent agree or strongly agree that they have a deeper understanding of inclusive practices, feel more confident to work with students with diverse and complex needs and are motivated to share their learning with their colleagues.

Outstanding Koorie Education Award

Thornbury Primary School


Koorie education is a priority at Thornbury Primary School; a range of programs and initiatives have been introduced to support and promote Koorie culture, inclusion and achievement.

These include the Koorie-inclusive School Wide Positive Behaviour Support Initiative, which creates a framework for a learning culture that is supportive of Koorie students, and the Malpa Young Doctors program, which teaches student health and wellbeing with a Koorie focus.

Every student at Thornbury has a weekly one-hour lesson in Woiwurrung, the language of the Wurundjeri people. Wayapa, a mental health and wellbeing program, has been introduced to connect students to culture and the land of the Wurundjeri people.

The school works closely with Koorie agencies, including the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service and the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency.

The success of the school’s approach has been revealed in significantly improved NAPLAN results for Koorie students. In 2018 attitudinal survey results, Koorie students out-performed non-Koorie students in all areas, including classroom behaviour, respect and connection to school.

Outstanding School Improvement Award

Western Port Secondary College


The leadership team at Western Port Secondary College has led an ambitious education improvement agenda over the past few years, driven by a vision of delivering learning growth for every student.

The college has embarked on a targeted program of whole-school professional learning, beginning with the development of an instructional framework grounded in the Department’s Pedagogical Model.

The performance and development process has also been revised, with teachers working collaboratively to collect and analyse multiple sources of student learning data to design learning programs that meet each student’s point of need.

The team also works closely with the local community and system-level organisations to support positive outcomes for students. An example of this is the Learning Guarantee Project, which delivers academic support to students in two of the college’s feeder primary schools to ensure they meet the age-expected level when they are in Year 10.

The team’s work has produced outstanding results. In 2018, the school announced significant improvements in Year 9 numeracy, reading, spelling and grammar and punctuation. Attitudinal survey results showed an average improvement of more than 10 percentile points across all factors.

Individual Awards

Outstanding Business Manager Award

Nicole Tudor, Christmas Hills Primary School


Nicole Tudor brings a wholehearted passion for sound operational and financial management to her role as business manager at Christmas Hills Primary School. She has established the systems, processes and procedures that have made it possible for the school to function with consistency and transparency. Her knowledge of the school and its budget, human resource processes, employment agreements, banking, grants, purchasing and facilities maintenance have allowed the school to operate successfully over several busy years.

Like many business managers working in a small school setting, Nicole’s role has required her to service many school requirements beyond her official job title. She has worked as an integration aide and takes an interest in the care and development of every student. She is also involved in community liaison, administration, occupational health and safety and is the first aid coordinator.

Nicole also manages all school council business, participates in professional development and volunteers for school fundraising events.

Nicole’s systematic approach to these multiple roles has allowed the school to improve its financial position and consistently deliver outstanding results for its students.


Outstanding Primary Teacher Award

Dimple Bhardwaj, Hillsmeade Primary School


Dimple Bhardwaj approaches her role as Year 5 teacher at Hillsmeade Primary School by caring for her students and being genuinely interested in their progress.

Dimple is a data-driven professional, combining evidence and prodigious research with her natural enthusiasm for teaching. She engages in regular professional learning to ensure that she is utilising current educational research to provide the best learning opportunities for her students.

Dimple is engaged in the Department of Education and Training’s Primary Mathematics and Science Specialist (PMSS) initiative, which trains primary school teachers to be mathematics and science specialists. Dimple enjoys sharing what she learns in this and other learning activities with her colleagues.

As the school’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) Learning Specialist, Dimple is engaged in a range of STEAM-related projects and activities across the school and collaborates regularly with her peers to develop their capacity and confidence in the explicit teaching of STEAM.

Outstanding Secondary Teacher Award

Broady Kata, Officer Secondary College


Broady Kata, English and Humanities teacher at Officer Secondary College, believes that students can achieve more than they imagine if they are given the tools, support and encouragement to meet high expectations. He encourages a culture of student leadership and agency in the school, giving students the opportunity to conceive, implement and run a variety of activities and projects.

As facilitator of both the English and Humanities Professional Learning Communities, Broady supports his colleagues to develop their teaching skills and creates an environment where they can share their own experiences.

Broady strongly supports inclusive and culturally safe learning environments and has run a number of lesson sequences for all year levels to build student understanding in this area.

Broady has a strong focus on his students. His deep commitment to their academic success and wellbeing is evidenced in the high performance levels demonstrated by his classes and his successful leadership of the Positive Behaviour Supports program.

Outstanding Primary Principal Award

Michelle Bickley-Miller, Warrnambool East Primary School


For Michelle Bickley-Miller, principal of Warrnambool East Primary School, the essence of the education experience is found through cultivating positive relationships. The range of programs and initiatives she has led have impacted many different areas of school activity, and have all helped support closer relationships between students, staff and the community.

Michelle has led the school through the application of the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) model, supporting an audit of its practices and identifying gaps and strengths. She has also established a range of approaches focused on teaching pedagogy and literacy and numeracy strategies.

Warrnambool East Primary is a lead school of the Respectful Relationships program; Michelle is committed to engaging the wider community in this critical work. The school leads a community partnership project ‘Women of Warrnambool’ that celebrates the women doing extraordinary things in the local area.

Michelle has also driven the school’s engagement with the broader Victorian education system. She mentors new principals and is a program facilitator at the Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership.

Outstanding Secondary Principal Award

Michelle Roberts, Mordialloc College


Michelle Roberts is proud of the eight-year journey of improvement she has embarked on as principal of Mordialloc College.

Michelle has sought to activate student voice, agency and leadership throughout the college. She has significantly increased the number of student leadership roles, introduced Learning Awards celebrated in assemblies, and student voice teams. Student leaders have developed their own values pledge which is read aloud at each assembly.

Michelle has established a strong professional learning culture with a relentless focus on teaching and learning. This is supported by a peer coaching program to build capacity, deliver consist teaching practice and raise the culture of achievement across the college. This is underpinned by the development of authentic relationships and high expectations for all whether teacher, student or parent.

The college’s core values are clearly defined and embedded across the school community.

The 2018 Year 12 graduating class delivered the best results in the school’s history. Mordialloc College is a highly regarded educational provider in the community.