IEP Home

Focus Schools Next Steps

The Focus School Next Steps Initiative aims to assist around 100 specially selected Focus Schools implement strategies that are known to bring about improved school attendance, classroom engagement and academic achievement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

The funding is provided to kick start activity that will contribute to improvements in the key areas of attendance, engagement and achievement. It will also support the capacity of Education Providers to invest in the balance of Focus Schools not already being supported by Australian Government funded activity.

The outcomes sought from the initiative for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Next Steps Schools are:

The initiative aims to provide support for Next Steps Schools to progress local level actions from the Indigenous Education Action Plan and implement whole school, evidence based critical success factors.

Critical Success Factors

Evidence suggests whole school approaches which are tailored to local needs are required across a number of critical success factors to sustainably lift the school attendance, classroom engagement and educational outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Five Critical Success Factors have been identified which are drawn from strategies identified as effective in Smarter Schools National Partnerships schools and other successful programs such as What Works, Dare to Lead and Stronger Smarter Learning Communities. These factors also complement the priority domains identified in the Action Plan.

Recognising and Celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultures and Leadership

The school acknowledges, promotes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and cultures with curriculum and pedagogy that embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural perspectives and support the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The school acknowledges and embraces Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in schools and school communities by employing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education workers and staff; giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff career pathways; and encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mentors and role models.

School Community Partnerships

The school has processes, networks and partnerships in place for promoting early engagement with learning and maintaining regular, positive contact with families and members of the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Schools work proactively to develop relationships with their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities that are based on mutual trust and respect. A school and community partnership agreement including locally agreed strategies aimed at lifting attendance and engagement will be a feature in each Next Steps School.

Skilled school staff meeting Individual Student Needs

School staff supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in their transition to school, thus providing them with a strong foundation for future educational achievement. The school staff undertakes specific and sensitive investigation into the backgrounds, aspirations and needs of individual students. Teachers are effective in supporting students; to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals and active and informed citizens. Skilled teachers work with students and parents (or caregivers) to develop and maintain Personalised Learning Plans that reflect the specific needs of individual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Personalised Learning Plans for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students will be a feature in each Next Steps school.

Strategic Planning and School Leadership

The school’s leadership team works together to build/maintain a culture that emphasises high expectations of attendance and performance. The school uses high quality data on students’ literacy/numeracy achievement, attendance and retention to set specific targets for students’ success and puts in place strategies for achieving these targets. An outline of the English Literacy and Numeracy strategies to be adopted will be a feature in each Next Steps Plan. School leaders flexibly meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and the local community by examining staff roles. The school utilises innovative and dynamic school staffing models with appropriately trained staff for in-class support. School leaders have a strong understanding of their students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds and participate in and encourage Professional Development (professional learning, cultural and contextual understanding) for all school staff. School leaders promote a pedagogy and curriculum that is relevant and engaging for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Some school leadership teams participate in professional development and mentoring, to ensure consistency in messaging and approach across the whole of the school.

Positive School Environments

The school embodies a culture of high expectations for all participants in the teaching and learning process. Positive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identity is celebrated and visible in the school, where culturally competent teachers and staff are employed to ensure students feel safe, welcomed and intellectually challenged at school. The school environment is inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their families, celebrates student resilience and achievement and promotes reconciliation.