Victorian Education Excellence Awards finalists

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

Thirty-five finalists from government schools across Victoria have been shortlisted for the 2019 awards which will be presented at a prestigious award ceremony on Friday 25 October at the Plaza Ballroom, Melbourne.

There are five individual awards, four team awards and three specialist awards.

2019 Individual Award Finalists

Outstanding Business Manager Award Finalists

Juan Hompart, Berwick College

Juan Hompart is an integral member of the leadership team at Berwick College, supporting strategic planning and compliance measures to improve learning outcomes for 1,700 students and supporting 170 staff.

Since joining the school in 2017, Juan has transformed financial systems, processes and procedures, improving the college’s entire financial position.

Juan is committed to equity and excellence in student outcomes. He ensures every student at the college is able to access all opportunities and remain engaged in learning. He supports students at risk of homelessness to access the Kids Undercover Scholarship and relief funding.

Juan’s creative flexible approach and willingness to take on new challenges has seen him support improvements to processes across a diverse range of work areas. He draws on his strong relationships with colleagues in other schools to support Berwick College’s staff to access a range of professional learning and networking opportunities.

Juan embodies the college values of Respect, Integrity, Perseverance and Personal Achievement.

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 resources 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 a community liaison, administrator, Occupational Health and Safety and 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.

Judy Webb, Ocean Grove Primary School

As business manager at Ocean Grove Primary School, Judy Webb is dedicated to managing the school’s resources responsibly so that all students have the greatest opportunity to learn.

Judy developed effective financial and resource management practices, including training and supporting team leaders in budget expenditure and correct invoicing procedures. She also developed effective workforce plans that identify and address staffing needs.

Judy has trained and cultivated an outstanding administration team who are empowered to go above and beyond in order to support the teachers. Her leadership has fostered a culture of good will and enthusiasm. This is seen not just in this team’s exemplary work but also in their participation in activities such as morning teas, first aid and volunteering for the annual school Apple Fair.

Judy also supports and mentors fellow business managers in her network and assists with school council.

Outstanding Primary Teacher Award Finalists

Jacinta Tolland, Camperdown College

Jacinta Tolland believes clarity, consistency and precision are the key elements of successful Early Years curriculum and pedagogy.

As leader of the Early Years team at Camperdown College she has helped create a culture in which collective capacity is built through peer observation and feedback, yielding greater trust and stronger working relationships.

Jacinta draws on her experience in other roles in student wellbeing, teaching Year 5/6 and sports coordinator to ensure that as a classroom teacher she is addressing the needs of the whole child.

A highly effective leader of change and improvement, Jacinta has sought to create a consistent approach towards planning, teaching and assessment. As an early adopter and leader of the Wimmera South West Reading Project, she has been a driver of improved literacy standards in the school.

Jacinta was promoted to Learning Specialist in 2018. Her successful approach to teaching is evident in the outstanding outcomes of her students and the very high regard in which she is held by students, staff, parents and Department colleagues.

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 up-to-date and 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.

Linda Hawkless, Kingswood Primary School

Linda Hawkless approaches classroom teaching by following the lead of the child, encouraging them and engaging with their curiosities.

For the past decade Linda has worked in the literacy intervention department and foundation classrooms of Kingswood Primary School. She draws on research to identify best practice that teachers can implement in their classrooms, supporting them in their journey to become better educators.

Linda is a life-long learner and constantly strives to identify and implement the most effective strategies to improve student outcomes. She supports her colleagues’ professional development by demonstrating a wide range of teaching strategies, using inquiry and evidence-based methods to evaluate the impact on student learning.

Linda trained as an Instructional Leader through the Bastow Institute in 2016 and introduced the use of an inquiry approach immediately afterwards. She has helped deliver massive improvements in student outcomes in both literacy and Mathematics at the Foundation level. This has in turn led to fewer students requiring intervention as they progress through the school.

Outstanding Secondary Teacher Award Finalists

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.

Debra Scholefield, Rosebud Secondary College

Rosebud Secondary College Mathematics teacher Debra Scholefield believes that as well as learning the curriculum, students should also be supported in order to become productive, resilient members of the community.

In her classroom, students learn important life lessons about consistency, expectations and encouragement. They learn to be respectful and to work both collaboratively and independently to achieve their personal best.

Debra works to give every student extra supports for their lessons by providing detailed lesson plans with Learning Goals and Success Criteria, podcasts of her lessons and a range of online resources that support the educational needs of both students and parents.

Recognising the necessity and desire in many students for additional numeracy support, Debra implemented a program of free weekly tutoring sessions that has been extremely well received by the college community.

Debra has worked extensively with her colleagues to develop a consistent and guaranteed curriculum and has been instrumental in changing the teaching model to better meet student needs.

Zoë Carolan, Wantirna College

As Leading Teacher at Wantirna College, Zoë Carolan believes that Mathematics is a foundation for all students to be successful at school and in life.

Zoë has introduced, and upskilled teachers to use evidence-based approaches to teaching and assessing Mathematics and numeracy.

Students are provided with the opportunity to learn and demonstrate a range of different skills, mapped against a continuum aligned with Victorian Curriculum standards. Students can work at their own pace and point of entry; and they are encouraged to challenge themselves and bridge gaps in their learning.

Zoë has also developed tailored subjects and pathways, including a transition plan for students who have completed the QuickSmart Mathematics Intervention Program for students lacking automaticity in Years 7 and 8; numeracy electives in Years 9 and 10 to support students; as well as enhanced courses in Year 10 to ensure all senior students are prepared for their final-year subjects.

Zoë’s reforms have significantly improved the numeracy outcomes of students at Wantirna College, with significant learning growth data reported across year levels.

Outstanding Primary Principal Award Finalists

Bev Hansen, Dandenong West Primary School

As principal of Dandenong West Primary School, Bev Hansen believes that schools should serve people and communities by being outward-facing, welcoming and an inclusive place of learning.

To achieve this vision for Dandenong West Primary School, Bev engaged over 50 different organisations to connect recently-arrived refugee children and their families to the school, community resources and the social capital they need to succeed in their new life. This has ultimately led to the school being funded through Community Hubs Australia to increase connection between individuals and communities.

Bev has fostered opportunities for student leadership and empowerment. She has initiated a range of wellbeing programs and initiatives to support students and break the link between disadvantage and achievement.

Bev is deeply committed to improving teaching practice and student outcomes. The CEO of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) personally congratulated the school on its 2018 Reading and Numeracy NAPLAN results.

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, but they 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.

Jane Donaldson, Westmeadows Primary School

Jane Donaldson, principal of Westmeadows Primary School, believes that to carry out organisational change you need optimism, a clear plan and respect for others.

In only a few years she has successfully revitalised the school, achieving significant improvements in the areas of teaching practice, collaborative planning and culture.

Jane implemented the Professional Learning Communities model for staff to engage in collaborative practice with clearly defined and well supported expectations and to strategically develop leadership within the school. She has set in place a strong system of challenge, support and feedback to enable critical and reflective practice within and across Professional Learning Communities at Westmeadows.

Jane has also sought to give students a greater level of agency and empowerment, involving them in school projects and creating opportunities for them to make their voices heard.

The outcomes of this approach are demonstrated through improvements in student achievement and attitudinal data over the past two years.

Outstanding Secondary Principal Award Finalists

Kondilo Prades, Lyndhurst Secondary College

As the principal of Lyndhurst Secondary College, Kondilo Prades has been integral in leading the school’s improvement journey over the last four years; she has succeeded in implementing improvements that have made Lyndhurst a school of choice for local families.

Kondilo has introduced teaching and curriculum innovations and established the right frameworks to help staff and students participate in a culture of high expectations. Professional Learning Teams and the newly established English/Literacy Centre use the latest evidence-based practices to enhance staff capacity across the school.

Staff have been empowered to teach students at their points of need and run targeted interventions as required. A special education teacher and aide have been employed to run a class for children with complex needs and behaviours.

The college has seen a significant improvement in a variety of data sets, with gains in NAPLAN, Student Attitudes to School Survey results, Parent Opinion Survey outcomes and Staff Opinion Survey findings. Kondilo has created a program of strong pathways in Victorian Certificate of Education and Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning which is reflected in the school’s increased median VCE study score.

Amadeo Ferra, McClelland Secondary College

Amadeo Ferra believes all students can be successful in their education journey when the right supports are put in place within a safe and inclusive school community.

As principal of McClelland Secondary College for over five years, he has led the development of a culture of high expectations and a sense of community that has transformed the college into a school of choice.

Amadeo has established a clear focus on improving student outcomes. He has implemented a school-wide coaching model that has been used to drive the college’s goals, build teacher capacity and act as a support mechanism for staff.

Efficient and sustainable resource management is another part of Amadeo’s vision for the school. Thanks to careful budget management, the college undertook a substantial building project with the creation of a sporting precinct and updates to science, technology and art buildings.

Amadeo believes that one of the most important qualities of a leader is the ability to inspire others. He has led a range of programs and initiatives to empower leaders, teachers and students to create a proactive and dynamic culture within the school.

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, significantly increasing the number of student leadership roles, introducing Learning Awards celebrated in assemblies, student voice teams and student leaders 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.

2019 Team Award Finalists

Outstanding Education Support Team Award Finalists

The Pavilion School, Charles La Trobe P-12 College

The Pavilion School is a government school for students who have disengaged from mainstream education settings. The school provides holistic support to students, offering an intensive literacy, numeracy and personal development program.

The education support team incorporates the wellbeing team, which offers social and emotional support, the student support team, which provides academic and interpersonal support, and the administration team, which is invaluable to the school.

This collaborative approach aims to enhance students’ education in tandem with their social development, and help students to navigate their transition into further education, employment or training at their own pace.

Teachers and staff at the Pavilion School seek to create and maintain a positive environment by following a student-centered approach. This approach ensures all students feel safe and capable, creating opportunities for students to challenge themselves, learn new skills and access educational opportunities.

Clifton Springs Primary School

The Inclusion Support Team at Clifton Springs Primary School know 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.

Hampton Park Secondary College

The Multicultural Education Aide (MEA) team at Hampton Park Secondary College was created to ensure English as an Additional Language (EAL) students could access targeted and individual support to assist them in areas of student engagement, wellbeing and achievement.

The team, which includes 10 MEAs speaking nine different languages, has been able to deliver a suite of improvements.

EAL students are supported on a one-on-one basis and in small groups across different subjects. Reading, writing, listening and speaking skills are built steadily and difficult to understand concepts are explained.

The team has harnessed its language skills to create better connections between the school, parents and caregivers, providing support through the enrolment process and communicating student progress.

The team also provides an essential resource for the college to develop staff knowledge of student backgrounds and the issues that they face.

Supporting approximately 270 EAL students across 82 classrooms, the MEA team is proud of its achievements. Students have improved their performance and are more comfortable, engaged and empowered to take control of their learning.

Outstanding Inclusive Education Award Finalists

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 the 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.

Kilberry Valley Primary School

Kilberry Valley Primary School has created an inclusive learning experience that ensures each child receives quality teaching and learning and is successful in their academic, engagement and wellbeing goals.

The school has a high number of students with additional needs and has embedded processes that ensure staff use approaches that cater to the needs of each child. This includes using behavioural science and therapeutic approaches to understand and improve students’ communication and reading.

Staff provide a wrap-around approach to assist with the social and academic learning of children with additional needs and undertake regular professional learning related to the Victorian Curriculum and other programs.

Selected children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder participate in the Strategies for Teaching based on Autism Research (STAR) program, which develops critical skills in students and is aligned with the Victorian Curriculum.

This approach has delivered excellent outcomes. NAPLAN results across a range of areas including participation rates, reading and numeracy have improved significantly over the past few years.

Verney Road School

‘Every child will have a voice’ is the mantra of staff at Verney Road School in Shepparton. The school provides the best opportunity for all children to have a meaningful and worthwhile education. Staff optimise communication, abilities, independence and enhance self-esteem and prepare each individual for a purposeful pathway into adulthood.

Verney Road School began a change process in 2016 aimed at making learning accessible to every student. Led by the communications team, the school implemented Augmentative and Alternative Communication, introducing the use of a variety of methods and tools to make it easier for students to communicate. This communication program has expanded across the whole school.

The change program has continued to be implemented in a number of stages including whole-staff professional learning, development of AAC tools and resources and one-on-one consultation with staff and parents.

This year a ‘Communications Champions’ committee was introduced to further promote and support use of AAC across the school.

The program has yielded positive results, with improvements recorded in a number of areas including student cognitive engagement, student voice and agency, and attitude to school.

The team has also been able to offer support to other schools and to speech pathologists who have visited the school to observe this program.

Outstanding Koorie Education Award Finalists

Lara Secondary College

Two years ago Lara Secondary College began a journey to make the school a more culturally inclusive and safe environment in order to improve outcomes for its Koorie students.

A three-person team has implemented a range of initiatives including embedding significant events such as NAIDOC week and an Indigenous Literacy Day, celebrated by the whole school.

The team has focused on achievement and wellbeing by implementing Individual Education Plans (IEPs), which are developed with the input of the teaching team, parents and carers and the Koorie Engagement Support Officer (KESO). Koorie students’ literacy and numeracy outcomes and general academic achievements are tracked and shared with relevant staff.

The team collaborated closely with the school’s KESO to identify appropriate and effective strategies to address the individual needs of Koorie students.

The most important results of this work are found in the changed experience of Koorie students. Koorie students have experienced an increase in attendance, confidence, wellbeing and self-expression.

The Grange P-12 College

The Grange P-12 College has embarked upon a program of change to create an inclusive and respectful school culture that welcomes diversity and embeds high expectations.

The College has implementing the Marrung Aboriginal Education Plan which was introduced by the Victorian Government in 2016 to ensure that Koorie Victorians achieve their learning aspirations.

Using data and evidence-based practice, Koorie students at The Grange have been supported to create educational pathways. Senior Koorie students have been mentored to complete Koorie school-based traineeships that have led to employment with companies such as Qantas, ANZ Bank and Australia Post.

Guided by its Koorie Engagement Support Officer (KESO), the college has forged stronger connections with Koorie families.

Results have been positive. The 2018 School Report for ‘Attitudes to School Survey by Aboriginal Status’ showed that in the domain of ‘Effective teaching practice for cognitive engagement’, Koorie students responded positively at 76%, compared to 65% for similar schools and 67% for the state.

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 Finalists

Bentleigh West Primary School

Determined to create transformational change, Bentleigh West Primary School began a four-year journey to embed a new whole-school instructional model.

The school used the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) and the Victorian Teaching and Learning Model (VTLM) to target its efforts on key areas and upskill school leaders and teaching staff.

The Professional Learning Community model was used to deliver professional learning to all staff in three priority areas: literacy, numeracy and High Impact Teaching Strategies (HITS).

Bentleigh West Primary has cultivated very strong connections across the education system; the hosts school leaders from across Australia and New Zealand who have partnered to share evidence-informed learning at the whole school level.

The school’s efforts have brought success, exceeding targets in all NAPLAN categories at Year 3 and lifting performance in the top two bands across all areas. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) recognised the school’s significant growth in Year 3 to 5 reading and numeracy.

Cobram Primary School

The School Improvement Team at Cobram Primary School understand that an underlying culture of collaboration, innovation and trust is the key to learning from pockets of teaching excellence and scaling them into consistent classroom practice.

From this understanding, the team has implemented a whole-school, consistent approach to teaching and learning. Through the use of evidence, research-based professional learning strategies, the Literacy Toolkit and educational consultants it made strategic improvements to achieve greater student outcomes.

Wellbeing practices have been strengthened through employing a social worker. A case-management model was introduced that included a weekly wellbeing meeting, relationship-building with families and a daily School Breakfast Club.

The school also strengthened its connection with the community by starting a facilitated playgroup that introduces families to the school and engages with preschools, secondary schools and other support services.

The results of the school’s improvement journey are clear. Results from the 2018 NAPLAN showed dramatic improvement with over half of Year 5 students achieving high relative growth in reading and numeracy. The Attitude to School Survey data was also extremely positive, with Effective Teacher Practice and Effective Classroom Behaviour both over 90 percent.

Western Port Secondary College

The Western Port Secondary College leadership team 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.

2019 Specialist Award Finalists

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.

Mount Clear College

Mount Clear College is committed to providing its students and staff with the skills, opportunities and understanding to live and work in an ever changing global world.

Intercultural capabilities are embedded across the curriculum to ensure students have the knowledge and capacity to celebrate and recognize the diversity of human life. Language studies are a priority, with students given the opportunity to study Chinese or Japanese.

Since 2013 the school has been involved in the Young Leaders to China Program, enabling students and staff members to travel to China for a six-week intensive language and cultural immersion program.

The school has a thriving international program and has fostered strong relationships with a range of sister schools in China, Japan, Turkey and Korea.

Richmond West Primary School

The Richmond West Primary School Improvement Team includes global learning and engagement in every aspect of the school’s activities.

The school teaches the Victorian curriculum via three interdependent language programs: bilingual Mandarin and Vietnamese immersion programs, English and English as an Additional Language (EAL) program. Students from the different language programs are mixed in specialist groups to enhance connections between students.

Students work in groups to investigate topics such as musical instruments, food and primary school life in countries other than Australia. This gives them a chance to teach others about their own culture and family background.

Whole-school professional learning is the foundation of the school. Intercultural capability is deliberately and strategically integrated in the scope and sequence documents for each level. Material from the Respectful Relationships framework has recently been included, with lessons being taught in Chinese, English and Vietnamese.

The school welcomes international students from many countries and many local families have forged close relationships with families in China.

Excellence in Physical Education and Activity Award – Primary Teacher

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 amongst 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 encourages 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.

Andy Hair, Leopold Primary School

As Physical Education/Physical Literacy Coordinator at Leopold Primary School, Andy Hair finds endless inspiration in responding to the needs of students and helping them become the best version of themselves.

Andy focuses on creating an environment where students can both develop physical skills and socialise with peers. Students are invited to get involved in designing tasks and to ‘show their style’. Each student’s wellbeing is fostered by connecting with other students and celebrating individual achievements.

Andy has also embedded physical activity into classroom learning as a way to both increase engagement in academic performance and promote positive health outcomes in children. He has created active movement hallways and pathways to maximise students’ opportunities to move creatively; he is currently working with colleagues at the school to foster a kinesthetic classroom.

Andy is also a passionate educator and presenter who travels nationally and internationally to share his learning practices. He currently mentors 12 teachers across Australia and the USA.

John Millard, Warrnambool East Primary School

With a passion for sport from a very young age and a love of encouraging and supporting others to achieve their best, John Millard believes he was always destined to be a physical education teacher.

John is Physical Education (PE) Teacher and Learning Specialist at Warrnambool East Primary School. He believes that connecting to students is the best way to improve outcomes and drive positive change.

John is also a leader of strategic planning at the school and the trust, respect and relationships he develops with students, parents and staff enable improvements in achievement, engagement and wellbeing across the whole organisation.

John is the District Secretary of Warrnambool City Sports Association, regularly organising inter-school competitions in collaboration with his PE colleagues. At a school and regional level, he also supports teachers in an informal mentoring role and is regularly contacted for guidance by teachers within the Great South Coast Network.

With 41 years teaching experience in public education and 25 years as a PE Teacher, John is more excited than ever about the potential of physical education to build self-esteem and confidence in young people, regardless of their gender or background.

Excellence in Physical Education and Activity Award – Secondary Teacher

Jade Hunter, Swan Hill College

Jade Hunter brings a unique sense of purpose to her role as a Physical Education Teacher at Swan Hill College – she attended the school herself 20 years ago and wants her students today to experience the same sense of excitement about a healthy lifestyle that inspired her all those years ago.

In 2017, Jade and her colleagues at the school organised a series of health and wellbeing activities during Mental Health Week. The success of this project inspired her to take further steps to make the school a healthier place.

Her efforts have evolved into the ‘Moving Minds’ project, a diverse program of activities aimed at building resilience and teaching positive mindsets to students, staff and the community.

Jade is aware of the powerful effect that good role models have in a small community. She sets high standards for herself and strives to be a living example of the physical fitness and positive mindset that she teaches to others.

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 her students will connect to.

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 amongst 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.

Now in her eighth year at Swan Hill, Whitney is a familiar and cherished part of the school faculty.