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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 3 Hansard (20 March) . .

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Schools are changing the way they think about how the government provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education. It is no longer simply about expectations on students to meet a benchmark; it is about how schools and the system change their practice to open up the best opportunity for these students to learn.

In practice, building cultural integrity means schools engaging closely with their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities; curriculum and ways of learning that embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content and perspectives; school leaders who celebrate the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and schools that have high expectations for their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. This approach is firmly rooted in current leading practice, academic literature and consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our city.

The evidence strongly suggests that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enjoy greater success in schools that are welcoming, that are reflective of their culture and community, and in which relationships support a high bar. This is cultural integrity.

In 2017 the Education Directorate worked closely in schools to prepare them for the new direction in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education, and to promote a cultural integrity toolkit that has been designed to support schools to develop their own strategies to build cultural integrity.

Workshops and professional learning have taken place for school leaders across the system. There is widespread enthusiasm for delivering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education in a way that goes to the heart of meeting the needs and aspirations of students. Teachers and school leaders are sharing ideas and committing themselves to continuous improvement. They are building on the work undertaken to embed local Ngunnawal knowledge and culture across all subject areas and year levels. ACT public schools are making great use of local resources such as the Ngunnawal plant use guide and Footprints on our Land, a film about the life of local Ngunnawal elder Aunty Agnes Shea.

It is important that all students learn about the environment and culture of Ngunnawal land. This is a big part of teaching with cultural integrity. The ACT government is committing to meeting the needs and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Schools have been provided with a range of resources to help them to build cultural integrity. This includes a self-assessment tool which schools can use to identify areas for improvement, monitor their progress and engage with families and the community to develop a deep understanding of what success looks like.

Over the past year, the Education Directorate has looked at its programs to ensure that the government's policy intent can be achieved in every classroom. The directorate has released information about what cultural integrity might include and provided opportunities for school leaders to learn and have in-depth conversations about what cultural integrity looks like in their schools and the difference it can make for students and families.


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