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.

Forty-one finalists from government schools across Victoria have been shortlisted for the 2021 awards which will be announced in October.

2021 Individual Award Finalists

Outstanding Primary Principal

The Outstanding Primary Principal award recognises exceptional principals who have demonstrated leadership excellence in a Victorian government primary school. These principals have made a significant contribution to improving staff and student achievement, engagement, and wellbeing; raised the quality of teaching; and improved the overall performance of their school.

Garry Rolfe, Cranbourne East Primary School

Principal Garry Rolfe is well-known as a longstanding principal in the South-East region, dedicating much of his career to the Casey South Network where he has very successfully led two quite different schools – Cranbourne Primary School and Cranbourne East Primary School. 

Now leading Cranbourne East Primary, Garry has worked closely with all stakeholders since the early planning stages of the school, establishing his vision to foster happy, safe and engaged students in an inclusive, information technology-rich and student-centred global learning environment.  

Garry's strategic management and leadership firmly positions students' needs at the centre of all decision-making and targeted resource allocation, and establishes the value of high expectations in supporting student achievement and wellbeing.   

A strong advocate of evidenced-based teaching and learning initiatives, Garry's highly effective and distributed leadership approach has significantly increased the professional learning and leadership capacity of his staff, and continues to make a significant contribution to the building of system-wide leadership capacity across network schools in the region. 

Kim Saddlier, Kangaroo Flat Primary School

Principal of Kangaroo Flat Primary School, Kim Saddlier, leads a learning community where equity and a strong sense of belonging enhance the education of every child.

As a school leader, Kim uses her expertise to focus collaborative effort on improving the quality and impact of teaching and learning, helping to break the link between students' disadvantage and poor achievement. Solution-focused and proactive in reducing barriers to education, Kim involves families at every step of the learning and support. 

Working across school and pre-school settings, Kim has initiated a therapeutic model along with the School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support framework, to support oral language development and students' self-regulation and transition. Her innovative student and family-centred approach is evidenced by significant improvement in students' health and wellbeing data.  

Improving the academic and wellbeing outcomes of students regardless of their start in life and family circumstances, Kim's leadership of the school is ensuring an inclusive and effective educational provision for the wider benefit of all. 

Andrew Augerinos, Oberon Primary School

An outstanding school leader and champion of public education, Andrew Augerinos, Principal of Oberon Primary School, has successfully led the school through several periods of profound change to become the positive school culture it is today.

Andrew's vision was the implementation of a value-driven program (GR8 Values) to set a cultural benchmark for the school. Now an ethos shared by all the students, teachers and community, it guides every aspect of school life and is evidenced in consistently high levels of student wellbeing, academic achievement and high approval ratings from staff and parents. 

Andrew's leadership is founded on the principled encouragement and support of others, whether students, staff, teachers or aspiring principals.  

Building a rich culture of support for learning over many years, Andrew's sustained investment in the professional development of his staff, his mentoring of others and fundamental belief that every student has the capacity to succeed, has created a school of influence highly-regarded in the South West region. 

Hayley Doyle, Swan Hill Primary School

Principal Hayley Doyle is passionate about ensuring the students at Swan Hill Primary School are provided with the same educational opportunities as their metropolitan counterparts, despite their rural location and level of disadvantage. 

Believing that a positive and informed staff culture promotes positive student outcomes, Hayley's leadership places considerable emphasis on working with staff to nurture a diverse, adaptive and high-performing workforce, committed to improving students' wellbeing and learning outcomes.  

Hayley's high expectations for all children at Swan Hill Primary are also positively impacting upon Aboriginal students' learning outcomes, evidenced by NAPLAN results placing Koorie students well-above other Koorie students in like-schools across the state. Hayley's leadership is ensuring the school is well on its way to achieving the Marrung Aboriginal Education Plan's commitment to closing the gap in educational achievement.

Hayley is contributing her leadership expertise at a system level too, as a member of the FISO Principal Reference Group, the Southern Mallee Network Executive Team and as a Bastow Inspire Facilitator.

Colin Simpson Outstanding Secondary Principal

The Colin Simpson Outstanding Secondary Principal award recognises exceptional principals who have demonstrated leadership excellence in a Victorian government secondary school. These principals have made a significant contribution to improving staff and student achievement, engagement, and wellbeing; raised the quality of teaching; and improved the overall performance of their school.

This award is named in recognition of the late Colin Simpson who was a teacher and education leader in Victoria. He was the foundation principal of Richmond High School from 2017 to 2019 and principal of the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School (VCASS) from 2004 to 2016. He was awarded the Outstanding Leadership Award at the 2009 VEEA.

Deborah Harman, Balwyn High School

Deborah Harman, Principal of Balwyn High School for the last thirteen years, has led with an aspirational educational vision that sets challenging goals for teaching and support staff, and promotes school and system-wide commitment to achieving excellence in student outcomes. 

Balwyn High School has an outstanding record of excellence in VCE outcomes. The record of perfect ATAR scores students have achieved under Deborah's principalship is testament to the culture that has been built around excellence and her unwavering commitment to the sustained improvement of public education.

Deborah has mentored four aspiring principals through Bastow's Unlocking Potential program, investing in their development well beyond their time at Balwyn High School, including supporting their successful transition to principalship.

Recently completed building works at the school are the result of the largest self-funded project in government school history. Deborah's courage and leadership was instrumental in raising the support and funds necessary to provide these state-of-the-art learning facilities. 

Justin Esler, Diamond Valley Special Developmental School

Diamond Valley Special Developmental School is a complex educational environment, which Principal Justin Esler leads with a holistic approach, ensuring student voice is at the heart of the school's community and purpose.

Justin has instigated a system of educational support where every student has access to a communication system that best suits their needs, through which they collaborate with their teachers to co-design their learning to meet individual need, based on their Individual Education Plan (IEP).  

The impact of Justin's leadership in educational support is far-reaching, with students now able to describe to their parents how they feel, confident in their ability to share ideas in the classroom.  

Justin's whole-school approach to the management of staff extends to gardeners, technicians and therapists, bringing teachers and support staff together to better appreciate each person's valued contribution to student learning. Justin's leadership has created an educational climate of positivity and trust, with all support roles understood as crucial to the success of students.  

Pitsa Binnion, McKinnon Secondary College

Pitsa Binnion is a highly experienced educator and Principal of McKinnon Secondary College ­– one of the largest and highest-performing secondary colleges in Victoria. A well-regarded advocate for public education, Pitsa demonstrates an exemplary and sustained commitment to the Victorian state system and its students.

Working as an advisor, mentor and educational leader, Pitsa is building teacher and principal capacity across the sector, contributing to Department of Education and Training advisory panels, school reviews and policy development at the highest levels. Her exceptional leadership, positive community impact and contribution to improving student and organisational outcomes has won her many prestigious awards and positions of influence and authority.

And yet, it is Pitsa's sustained commitment to students that sets her apart: enacting her vision for the development of a learning environment that nurtures excellence, responsibility and personal commitment, she is building the second McKinnon Secondary College campus, driven by her commitment to delivering high-quality outcomes to young people living in Melbourne's South East.

Outstanding Primary Teacher

The Outstanding Primary Teacher award recognises effective and innovative teachers who have demonstrated excellence in teaching practice at a Victorian government primary school and have made a significant contribution to improving student achievement, engagement, and wellbeing.

Erin Beissel, Clarinda Primary School

Erin Beissel from Clarinda Primary School is applying evidence-based research and professional learning to drive improvement in teaching practices, and particularly in literacy instruction. 

Working from a strong foundation of learning and research, Erin has led the implementation of a consistent whole-school model of literacy instruction: the Reader's and Writer's Workshop, based on the Gradual Release of Responsibility model.  

Erin's use of a range of professional development settings has brought staff on board and changed their instructional practices to ensure high-quality learning outcomes for every student. Erin has worked with staff to embed different elements of the High Impact Teaching Strategies (HITS) into the new literacy instruction model, embedding tools such as differentiation, feedback, goal setting and explicit teaching, and applying data and evidence to support her instructional leadership.  

Erin's enthusiastic implementation of the new workshop model for Clarinda Primary has created a culture responsive to continuous learning and improvement, and focused on the best interests of students and school community. 

Belinda Pedersen, John Henry Primary School

Leading the Amplify initiative at John Henry Primary School, Belinda Pedersen is a passionate educator and advocate for developing students' voice, agency and leadership within the classroom.  

Applying High Impact Teaching Strategies (HITS), Belinda co-constructs success criteria and learning intentions with individual students to set goals and shape lesson sequences from an individual's point of need, using conferencing techniques to set and monitor students' progress.  

Belinda is creating a culture of collaboration in literacy instruction at the school, guiding a Leading Literacy team with initiatives that are improving student outcomes and experience.  Her sustained commitment to building positive relationships and developing expertise across the school and wider community, has further engaged parents and families in children's (online and classroom-based) learning programs and literacy development.  

Key to her success as a teacher and leader is her ability to apply her professional learning and engagement in ways that ensure positive change, behaviours and expectations, empowering both students and staff at the school.  

Rick Griffiths, Warrandyte Primary School

As classroom teacher, Literacy Leader and Acting Principal at Warrandyte Primary School, Rick Griffiths is a flexible and responsive educator, successfully leading the development of professional learning by example. 

Striving to continually improve his own practice as an educator, Rick has undertaken Bastow's professional learning around the workshop model, and more recently, the Dylan Wiliam series for Embedding Formative Assessment. After establishing a new instructional model for the school, he is again sharing knowledge with his peers, modelling lessons and trialling new formative assessment processes in the classroom.

As a classroom practitioner, Rick works with students on personal and social-emotional goals and adjusts his teaching and routines to assist students that present with individual and additional needs. Responsive to each student, both academically and personally, Rick's capacity to support all students to thrive and achieve excellence is outstanding.  

Over the last 13 years, Rick has significantly enhanced the educational quality and experience, academic and wellbeing outcomes for the whole Warrandyte community. 

Outstanding Secondary Teacher

The Outstanding Secondary Teacher award recognises effective and innovative teachers who have demonstrated excellence in teaching practice at a Victorian government secondary school and have made a significant contribution to improving student achievement, engagement, and wellbeing.

Rachael Gore, Albert Park College

Rachael Gore is an innovative educator and numeracy leader, whose use of technology and engagement with students and teachers has contributed to Albert Park College's modernised approach to teaching.  

Rachael's pioneering of important new technologies in the classroom and her influential contribution to the college's (leading) professional learning program, has been instrumental in revolutionising the way mathematics, and other disciplines, are taught across the school. Creating a Numeracy Portal that provides online curriculum and numeracy support for Middle Years and Integration Aides, Rachael has also initiated multiple workshops and coaching sessions with teams and individuals that model numeracy teaching excellence, working with peers to design curriculum that embeds numeracy intervention.  

Rachael believes strongly in the potential of young people and is a major contributor to the College's positive education program. Rachael's commitment to improving students' welfare and levels of achievement has seen her students obtain perfect scores, win state-wide awards and score well-above the average for their final year results.  

Steven Perry, Box Hill High School

In establishing the Faculty of Engineering and Technology (FET) at Box Hill High School, Steven Perry has enabled hundreds of students to engage in hands-on learning, rich with technologies and skill-based projects that develop students' creativity and resilience and prepared them for further STEM learning. 

An innovative teacher and engineer, Steven sees opportunities for change and development and embraces them: while now cornerstones of the FET program, the popular Solar Car and Robocup programs were also very new, and in many ways, unchartered territory in education when Steven first initiated them.

At the heart of the FET programs is collaboration and inclusion. Working successfully with highly capable students and equally, with some of the most disengaged, testifies to Steven's fundamental belief that all students can achieve great things. Ensuring all students experience success has demanded his total dedication and service: his commitment to every aspect of school life has collectively lifted BHHS's performance and quality for more than twenty years.  

Kimberley Zammit, Warringa Park School

Warringa Park School teacher, Kimberley Zammit, is ensuring that post-school opportunities are embedded into the school's later years curriculum and achieving exemplary results.

Kimberley led a curriculum review that has transformed VCAL learning and teaching outcomes, and forged strong vocational and community partnerships to deliver viable pathways for students with additional needs.  

Kimberley's knowledge of curriculum, instruction and assessment has given her a deep understanding of how teachers and students learn. As a passionate advocate for inclusive learning, she has implemented project-based learning into the VCAL curriculum promoting student voice and agency. She has also supported staff to develop their capacity, practices and understanding of the purpose and reward of the VCAL curriculum.  

Working in collaborative partnership with teachers, students, families, training providers and other local schools, Kimberley has been instrumental in improving VCAL engagement and vocational pathways for students at Warringa Park School and the wider Wyndham network.

Outstanding Early Career Primary Teacher

The Outstanding Early Career Primary Teacher award recognises effective and innovative teachers in the first five years of their teaching career who have demonstrated excellence in teaching practice at a Victorian government primary school and have made a significant contribution to improving student achievement, engagement, and wellbeing.

Meagan Lindberg, Cranbourne Primary School

Meagan Lindberg is an outstanding Prep and junior years educator at Cranbourne Primary School, who is ensuring the best possible learning foundation for all her students.  

Meagan's strategic and inclusive approach characterises every aspect of her educational practice, whether developing and refining a teaching technique, listening to a student or leading whole-school improvement.  

In her classroom practice, Meagan consistently has the highest performing student reading scores, leading to persistently strong reading outcomes in children's later years. Reviewing the educational research around phonics instruction, Meagan created screening procedures and lesson activities in her own class, while working with her Professional Learning Community to evaluate these initiatives.  

Leading the School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support initiative, Meagan also works with the school's student leadership team, parent group and wellbeing team. In recognition of the importance of her exemplary teaching practice in the delivery of inclusive and culturally responsive education, she is now leading the Respectful Relationships and Marrung Indigenous Education Plan at the school.

Tiffany Thomas, Melton Primary School

Tiffany Thomas had a unique start to her teaching career, commencing at Melton Primary School in June 2020. Immediately immersed in remote teaching her very first class of grade six students, Tiffany quickly climbed a steep learning curve to engage with her students and colleagues she was yet to meet face-to-face.  

Tiffany focused firstly on building a rapport with her students and their families. Working diligently, she actively listened, formed understanding of other's perspectives, demonstrated discretion, respect and compassion, framing her questions constructively to identify and remove any barriers to remote learning. Expertly guiding the transition back to onsite learning, she continued to provide a responsive learning experience for all students.  

In a very short period of time, Tiffany has formed an exceptional knowledge of her students and their point of learning, adapting and adjusting her lessons accordingly, differentiating the individual learning needs of each. Now an instrumental member of the school's Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) leadership team, Tiffany is already a high-level contributor to whole-school improvement.  

Joshua Morton, Yarra Ranges Special Developmental School

Joshua Morton has played a pivotal role in the success of the Yarra Ranges Special Developmental School's (SDS) P-6 satellite unit at Healesville Primary School. Since starting his teaching career in 2017 with Yarra Ranges, Joshua has supported a range of classes from Prep through to Year 12, working with students with different disabilities and needs.  

Currently Joshua is the sole classroom teacher at the satellite unit, providing an age-appropriate curriculum tailored to the different developmental levels of all nine students, ranging from Prep to Grade 5 with moderate to mild (and additional) disabilities. He works collaboratively with Healesville Primary School staff, external therapists and providers, families and carers and his own team of Educational Support staff to provide and enhance inclusive practices. 

Contributing to teams at both Healesville Primary School and Yarra Ranges SDS, Joshua is an exemplary advocate for all students with disabilities within mainstream schools, extending all staff's knowledge, practice and expectations of students with disabilities in all settings.

Outstanding Early Career Secondary Teacher

The Outstanding Early Career Secondary Teacher award recognises effective and innovative teachers in the first five years of their teaching career who have demonstrated excellence in teaching practice at a Victorian government secondary school and have made a significant contribution to improving student achievement, engagement, and wellbeing.

Tessa Kirk, Geelong High School

Tessa Kirk is described by her Geelong High School colleagues as a truly exceptional teacher.  

In one year, Theatre Studies teacher Tessa Kirk has improved VCE outcomes in the subject to the best they have ever been, run the school production, developed an exemplary digital curriculum resource, built deep and resonant relationships with students, staff and local networks, created inspiring extra-curricular opportunity and success, and more – all in a year of restrictions and remote learning.  

Tessa's passionate investment in the work of teaching and learning, both within the school and outside it, bring professionalism, balance and positivity to everything she does.  

Driving a new school initiative to improve young women's voice, agency and leadership in class, school and community, Tessa demonstrates her growing impact upon improved student outcomes; working with local schools she is co-creating community initiatives such as the regional forum for girls, Be Bold Be Heard, making a real difference for young women in her region. 

Daniel King, Lowanna College

In only his third year of teaching, Daniel King has led Lowanna College's Professional Learning Community, Middle Years Literacy and Numeracy Support initiative and the Tutor Learning Initiative, and has been instrumental in strong numeracy growth, evidenced in much improved NAPLAN numeracy results (2018-20).  

Working with peers to design and implement a data collection and analysis schedule and student progress tracking tools, Daniel's outstanding contribution has been critical to the refinement, evolution and effectiveness of the College's numeracy improvement plan. In addition to this work, Daniel leads weekly professional learning for educational support staff to build their mathematical capacity and confidence, enabling them to more actively participate in differentiated support within the classroom.  

Ensuring maths is engaging and accessible to all students regardless of ability or background, Daniel is working with students who are well below the minimum standard in mathematics, using diagnostic tests to identify mathematical misconceptions and designing tasks to address these misconceptions, resulting in outstanding improvement in students' outcomes.  

Elizabeth Parsons, Preston High School

Elizabeth Parsons joined Preston High School this year after three years at Horsham College. The trilingual Leading Teacher was given the inaugural role of Head of Year 9, the most senior year level (presently) at this new and expanding school, based on her similar role and accomplishments in regional Victoria. 

A teacher of German, Chinese and English and a key member of the Languages Team at the school, Elizabeth is building exceptional curriculum and assessment resources and providing excellent teaching and leadership founded on strong relationships with students and colleagues. 

In her current role as Head of Year 9, as in her previous role, Elizabeth is a responsible for the wellbeing and education of a large number of students.  

Skilfully leading a team of mentor teachers and a middle year level focused on young people developing themselves as the 'Leaders of Tomorrow', she is actively developing teacher capability while connecting with community to build partnerships, creating new learning opportunities for her students.

Outstanding Physical Education and Activity Teacher

The Outstanding Physical Education and Activity Teacher award recognises an exceptional teacher in a Victorian government school who has demonstrated leadership and excellence in teaching physical education that has led to significant improvements in student achievement, engagement, and wellbeing.

Chloe Dew, Black Hill Primary School

Physical Education teacher Chloe Dew, demonstrates a whole-school and community perspective on improvement at Black Hill Primary School.  

To promote positive health and a physically active culture, Chloe engages with digitally innovative, inclusive and culturally responsive education practices, creating an environment where students feel more empowered to have their say – not only in shaping their own learning, but in understanding the positive results of their agency. 

Chloe's rethinking of Physical Education delivery through cross-curricular lessons has increased student engagement and enabled all students to benefit from differentiated learning. During remote learning, Chloe embraced the opportunity to educate families about current physical education practices via a virtual classroom, engaging the whole family in her lessons. 

Chloe's roles as educational leader, board director with ACHPER Victoria and Region Coordinator with School Sport Victoria provide testament to her belief that the more connections she makes across school and community, the greater her ability to deliver high-quality learning opportunities for her students.  

Courtney Gramc, Cranbourne Primary School

Courtney Gramc recognises the importance of engaging an entire school community in improving the health, wellbeing and educational outcomes for students.

As the Physical Education teacher at Cranbourne Primary School, Courtney's educational and wellbeing leadership is having a positive impact both within and beyond the school gates. 

Leading the specialist Professional Learning Teams at Cranbourne Primary, Courtney works with High Impact Teaching Strategies (HITS) and School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support practices to identify and share best practice teaching and learning, collaboratively developing shared techniques and language that work across disparate learning areas.  

Courtney has been instrumental in developing a whole-school Health Education curriculum, and leading a Special Events Team to plan internal and community-based events that bring year levels, students and families together in healthful ways. 

Courtney's dedication to sharing her knowledge and experience for the benefit of others also extends to her role as a founding member of a PE community of practice operating in the Casey South Network, where she is enabling specialists to share best practice. 

David Black, Wantirna College

David Black from Wantirna College, is an outstanding educator driving whole-school improvement through the development of curriculum and assessment practices in his Physical Education classrooms.  

As a Leading Teacher, David has driven a developmental assessment initiative, first within the Health and Physical Education learning area, pioneering a new approach to formative assessment that allows staff and students to better identify, across any subject, where each student is at with their learning.  

Actively championing the development of leadership skills within the faculty, David mentors staff to encourage personal development and leadership growth, supporting their progression to roles leading curriculum implementation, student management and the modelling of High Impact Teaching Strategies (HITS) across the College.  

Whether reforming Parent Teacher Conferences to events where students drive the conversations using their individual developmental rubrics, facilitating the development of teaching and leadership skills within the faculty or leading curriculum development in Physical Education or across the school, David is consistently achieving exemplary school and student outcomes.

Outstanding Business Manager

The Outstanding Business Manager award recognises exceptional business managers within a Victorian government school who have demonstrated excellence in school finance and business management, while making a significant contribution to the performance of their school.

Juan Hompart, Berwick College

Juan has been the Business Manager at Berwick College since 2017, bringing expertise and creativity to the leadership team and significantly improving the financial management and position of the organisation.

Juan oversees all the financial aspects of a large College with 1650 students and 170 staff. His in-depth knowledge of DET systems, processes and procedures is ensuring the best possible use of resources. Initiating new streams of revenue and creating a more sustainable learning environment for staff and students, he is improving outcomes across the college.

Extending his relationships with colleagues in other schools, Juan has supported staff to access professional learning and networking opportunities and maximised funding opportunities in support of students. Juan assists all eligible and vulnerable students at the College to apply and receive funding in support of their engagement in education.

Juan's dedicated contribution towards sustained improvement, increased opportunity and sustainable resources for students and staff is ensuring a positive and sustainable future for Berwick College.

Sharyn Wilson, Doveton College

Sharyn Wilson has been the Business Manager for Doveton College since 2011. Her financial, administrative and business leadership has supported the complex provision of a unique model of education to the Doveton community – the learning begins with babies, and extends through to adult education opportunities, including certificated courses. 

Supporting these educational opportunities are a complex network of services, partnerships and volunteers, led by Sharyn and central to the business of the College.  

Driven by a deep commitment to improving outcomes for children and families, particularly those who are vulnerable, Sharyn is committed to providing support that is accessible – culturally, linguistically and financially. An expert manager of business, people and resources, Sharyn has negotiated and supported many agreements with service providers including philanthropic partners, Maternal Child Health, GPs and Monash Health who deliver health and allied health services onsite.  

Under Sharyn's leadership, this unique educational model has delivered significant improvements in academic, engagement and wellbeing outcomes to the community of Doveton.  

Lynette Moloney, Western English Language School

Lynette Moloney is the Business Manager for the Western English Language School – a multicultural, multicampus school for newly arrived refugee and migrant children in South Western Victoria.

Managing the school's finance and resources, twenty-one Multicultural Education Aides and office staff across six campuses, brings additional administrative and financial challenges to what is a challenging role at any school. Lynette's ability to adapt and find practical and compassionate solutions that benefit staff and students, ensures the wellbeing and support of both. 

Lynette's compassion for the challenges faced by new arrivals to school and region, mean that she regularly goes above and beyond her role as Business Manager. During lockdowns this year and last year, this care has extended to organising food and clothing deliveries to refugee families, and initiating learning opportunities for parents to grow new skills and connect with their community. 

Lynette's exemplary contribution to the school is improving outcomes for staff and students, and the wider community of South Western Victoria.

2021 Team Award Finalists

Outstanding School Improvement

The Outstanding School Improvement award recognises exceptional school staff within a Victorian government school who have demonstrated excellence to improve whole-school outcomes through strategic planning and improvement initiatives, and have made a significant contribution to developing effective partnerships with the broader community to improve overall school performance.

Arnolds Creek Primary School

At Arnolds Creek Primary School, a strong focus on building teacher excellence to achieve whole-school improvement has been guided by the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO).  

Implementing initiatives such as Professional Learning Communities and the School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support (SWPBS) program with fidelity, the school's distributed leadership team have led a cohesive approach to whole-school improvement that is evidence driven and collaboratively achieved, resulting in greatly improved wellbeing and academic outcomes for students.  

The analysis of school and student data reveals a positive upward trend in the percentage of students in the top two bands for reading and mathematics and has resulted in a decrease in the number of students achieving low growth in NAPLAN scores for reading and mathematics.  

Most recently, Arnolds Creek Primary have been recognised with a Bronze Award for their implementation of the SWPBS initiative and were recently invited to present at the 2021 Education State Principals' Conference to share their learning and success in this area.  

Banyule Primary School

Banyule Primary School's motto 'Happy Kids Learn', is ensuring students' wellbeing needs are at the forefront of all that they do. Sharing their knowledge both within and beyond the school, Banyule Primary is actively contributing to educational improvement across the wider network.  

The Banyule Primary School Improvement Team (SIT) consists of five dynamic and dedicated staff members including the Assistant Principal and four Learning Specialists, who each have a specific leadership focus: Literacy, Numeracy, Assessment and Digital Technologies.  

The team's unrelenting focus on the planning and delivery of an effective, evidence-based instructional teaching and learning model has underpinned the school's consistent growth in high student achievement results and received positive endorsement from staff, student and parent surveys.  

Contributing beyond the school, the team are facilitating well-received workshops for network schools. The school is actively involved in the Banyule Nillumbik Schools Network, providing an opportunity for the SIT members to build leadership capacity and contribute to educational improvement across the region. 

Cranbourne East Secondary College

With the 2015 school review at Cranbourne East Secondary College, came the strategic appointment of leaders and experienced teachers who, over five years, have collaboratively delivered their vision for a high-performing Senior School focused on student results and pathways.  

Strategic recruitment coupled with the development of professional learning communities guided the design and implementation of an agreed instructional model, a guaranteed curriculum, the implementation of the School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support program and high-quality senior pathways informed by the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO).

The results of the College's improvement journey are exceptional.  

Significant improvement was evidenced by the 2019 and 2020 review with consistently higher student achievement results: all Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) students received their first preference, and for the past 3 years, Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning students have received Achievement Awards.  

In 2019 and 2020, the College was named as the most improved state school and one of the top most improved with respect to median study scores.

Outstanding Education Support Team

The Outstanding Education Support Team award recognises exceptional education support teams within Victorian government schools that have demonstrated excellence in collaboration and teamwork within a school setting and made a significant contribution to improving student achievement, engagement, and wellbeing.

Berwick College

The Learning Support Officers (LSO) at Berwick College support some of the most vulnerable young people in their school community, not only those who are Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) funded, but any student experiencing barriers to their education.  

Adopting a Team Around the Learner framework, they work collaboratively with teachers, parents and external agencies to form individualised and holistic approaches that support each student to experience success. 

In 2020, all Year 10 students PSD funded in 2018 completed Year 12. The LSO team provided careers counselling support and referrals to external agencies, supporting students' transition to further education, training and employment.  

Developing a Growth Mindset is also a key focus for the LSO team members who impart critical values to their students about their ability to develop and to achieve despite any barriers they may face to learning. 

The success of the team's work is evidenced in the tremendous student outcomes they have facilitated and the personal messages of gratitude they frequently receive from students and parents alike. 

Carwatha College P-12

Carwatha College P-12 in Melbourne's South East, is a college of 550 students representing over 50 different nationalities, with high percentages of students at-risk, with additional needs, and from refugee and non-English speaking backgrounds.

The daily work of the College's education support team is to grow collaborative relationships with colleagues that support students' inclusion and learning, wellbeing and engagement, and to develop all students' personal growth skills such as self-esteem, self-regulation and resilience.  

The Wellbeing and Inclusion Team has created a digital database of support tools for teachers working with students with additional learning needs, developed and improved the Individual Education Plan process for all at-risk students, and established community partnerships to support more experiential learning – even securing funding to improve the physical environment for students at school, including a sensory playground.  

This Wellbeing and Inclusion Team have proven to be one of the most influential teams in the College, enacting positive change with an unwavering focus on providing point-of-need support for every student.  

Croydon Primary School

Throughout the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the four Multicultural Education Aides (MEA) at Croydon Primary School have become a critical support to the school's large number of Burmese and other Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) families of mostly non-English speakers.  

Guiding CALD students and families through the health and educational implications of the pandemic and remote learning has required the MEAs to translate all communication between teachers, school, students and families into Hakha Chin, Falam, Zomi and Karen.

When the school transitioned to remote learning in 2020, all learning materials and instructions for the computer were translated and supported with phone calls. For some families this support was frequent, due to their lack of English and limited technology expertise. The multi-lingual MEAs committed to learning the system and became 'expert' troubleshooters, removing any barriers to remote learning for students.

The school's Falam and Hakha Chin MEAs are young men currently at university or recent graduates. Successfully educated through the Victorian education system as young boys and CALD students themselves, they now provide outstanding role models for senior students.

Outstanding Inclusive Education

The Outstanding Inclusive Education award recognises exceptional staff within Victorian government schools who have demonstrated quality teaching and learning, delivered outstanding system improvements that have made a positive impact in their school and community that support achievement, engagement and wellbeing through a positive climate for learning for students with additional needs.

Armstrong Creek School

One of Victoria's newest schools catering for students of all abilities, Armstrong Creek School has established a genuine commitment to supporting all learners at their point of need. To meet the diverse learning, social and behavioural needs of students, including a high proportion of learners with disabilities and additional needs, the school is modelling a truly inclusive education practice. 

To establish an inclusive school community, the Leadership Team at Armstrong Creek School understood the need to address how inclusive education could best be provided. Ensuring innovative learning and teaching is placed at the centre of wellbeing and achievement-integrated approaches, the school is applying the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Framework (MTSS) to ensure that all students receive the integrated academic and wellbeing instruction they need.  

Together with a highly adaptable learning environment, the MTSS, School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support and Professional Learning Communities, the school has developed a purposeful and widely understood instructional model that is improving learning outcomes for every student. 

Clifton Springs Primary School

The Inclusion Support Team approach at Clifton Springs Primary has supported the embedding of inclusive practices in every classroom to improve students' self-regulation, create a positive climate for learning and provide important sensory motor skill support and development.  

The school values of Respect, Responsibility and Kindness were created collaboratively with the whole school community. A significant driver of the school's ability to achieve this vision is their commitment to living these school values, where robust inclusion and wellbeing strategies mean students are genuinely consulted and participate in decisions that involve them. 

To better support the inclusion of all students, the school has also developed partnerships with external agencies to build a whole of community approach to supporting individual student wellbeing and learning, including their Koorie students. The school supports students in learning about Koorie perspectives and provides opportunities for them to be involved in developing school-wide initiatives and practices aimed at recognising and embracing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

YarraMe School

YarraMe School is a unique provider of support for vulnerable students with learning, behavioural, social and emotional issues and their families. The school assists at-risk students to access mainstream education through early intervention in a safe and inclusive setting.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020, YarraMe quickly mobilised and responded to provide support and expertise to students, parents and educators adapting to new modes of learning.

Implementing new state-wide services and resources through its outreach support, YarraMe initiated a Help Desk for parents supporting children with complex needs learning from home. YarraMe provided parents with the opportunity to discuss their child's behaviours, assisting parents to successfully navigate potential intervention pathways for their child.

In addition, a series of free online courses in the areas of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) offered families greater access to strategies in support of home learning.  

A professional learning program for educators was also implemented to equip education professionals with the strategies needed to address student wellbeing issues arising from the pandemic. 

Outstanding Koorie Education

The Outstanding Koorie Education award recognises exceptional educators in a Victorian government school who demonstrate Aboriginal inclusion across the whole school, respectful and inclusive teaching and learning practices to improve Koorie student achievement, wellbeing and engagement and embed Aboriginal perspectives in the curriculum.

Berwick College

Berwick College's sustained commitment to working with their community to embed Aboriginal perspectives in a meaningful way, is ensuring Koorie students' cultural recognition and support are fulfilled through their participation in education.

Berwick College's highly-trained staff, working with their Koorie Engagement Support Officer, Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Groups and community, are together creating a bi-cultural learning environment that respects, recognises and celebrates cultural identity through practice and curriculum.

Developing strong links with the Indigenous community is critical, given many students have no contact or limited exposure to their cultural background at home. The important work being done by Berwick College embeds Aboriginal inclusion within all aspects of their education, engaging students with learning, carers and parents in ways that are improving Indigenous student outcomes.  

Berwick College understands and accepts their responsibility to ensure all their students understand Aboriginal perspectives and culture, and that their knowledge and significant contribution to improving outcomes for their Indigenous students is shared across the system.  

Portland Primary School

Portland Primary School is acknowledged by their Koorie community for their genuine engagement with their local Gunditjmara culture and people.

A strong emphasis on student engagement, wellbeing and connectedness has been guided by the Marrung Aboriginal Education Plan and supported by classroom teachers at all levels.

Working collaboratively with local community and their Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Chair and Marrung facilitator, they are successfully integrating local culture, language and Koorie perspectives into the curriculum and culture of the school. Everyday school routines, such as Acknowledgements of Country, are normalised and personalised with uniforms, artefacts, signage, stories and maps, creating a learning environment immersed in Dhauwurd-Wurrung language, history and perspectives.

In collaboration with other local primary schools, the initiatives of Portland Primary are positively impacting student outcomes: in 2020, all their Koorie students were at or above their expected level of achievement in Literacy, and families share with the school that they feel culturally safe and experience a high level of inclusion.

Reservoir East Primary School

Reservoir East Primary is committed to facilitating a strong sense of belonging and identity for their First Nations students by providing a culturally competent, responsive and inclusive learning space.  

Initiatives to improve the educational outcomes of Koorie students have placed a strong emphasis on First Nations representation in decision-making, guided by the Marrung Aboriginal Education Plan. A strong connection to the Koorie community has been facilitated by the appointment of the school's own Indigenous workforce, including Education Support staff, teaching staff and an Indigenous Liaison Officer. Ongoing staff training ensures the school continues to embed and improve culturally responsive learning approaches.

Reservoir East Primary has become well-known as a culturally safe school for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their families. Evidenced by the increase in the number of enrolled First Nations students over the last five years, enrolments have increased from less than ten students five years ago, to the 50 First Nations students it has currently enrolled today.

Outstanding Provision for High-Ability Students

The Outstanding Provision for High-Ability Students award recognises exceptional teams within Victorian government schools that have demonstrated excellence in provision for high-ability students, supporting their learning, engagement and wellbeing and helping them thrive now and into the future.

Balwyn Primary School

At Balwyn Primary School, their philosophy places individualised learning at the heart of everything they do, supporting each student to reach their own unique potential.  

Differentiated instruction ensures that all students learn from their point of need and allows students to progress through the curriculum at their own pace, while providing high-ability students with the opportunity to excel. A whole-school moderation process ensures that teachers feel confident in supporting students who may be placed above or below their expected Victorian Curriculum level, the moderation creating flexibility and familiarity between year-level cohorts. 

External and internal professional development allows educators to develop a deep understanding of high-ability learning, ensuring that all students can receive a challenging educational experience. 

Current enrichment programs now include opportunities for creative writing, participation in orchestras, challenging maths programs, engagement in curriculum programs such as Tournament of Minds and Science Talent Search, and participation in the Victorian Challenge and Enrichment Series as well as the Victorian High Ability Program.  

Bandiana Primary School

Bandiana Primary School's implementation of the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) is differentiating opportunity and challenge levels for all children, and particularly those of students of high-ability.

Ensuring all students are challenged within every class, the school has simultaneously supported the acceleration of many students in their learning by engaging high-ability students on extension tasks aligned to the school curriculum, increasing levels of student advocacy and collaborative decision-making.

The extension program engages students in activities that focus on higher-order thinking across multiple disciplines beyond the core school subjects of reading, writing, and mathematics.

Student agency has initiated innovative projects involving coding, aviation, and game design in a curriculum that offers STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) subjects and prepares high-achieving students for futures as creative, adaptive and critical thinkers.

Bandiana Primary School contributes to system-wide learning and engagement through the recognition of students with high potential, targeted support to professional learning, and the provision of mentoring for network schools.

Tarneit Rise Primary School

Tarneit Rise Primary is a highly aspirational and inclusive community school where high-ability students' individual strengths, whether academic, social, creative or physical, are identified, acknowledged and nurtured towards excellence. 

The school delivers a supportive yet challenging Student Excellence program to their high-ability students, focused on the development of higher-order thinking, collaboration, teamwork and metacognition. Students are encouraged to be active leaders in their own learning, and are afforded multiple opportunities to develop their individual and collective agency to direct their learning.  

Equally committed to building the capacity of all teachers to identify and provide for high-ability students, the school supports collaborative professional learning teams, relevant and timely professional development and leadership opportunities.  

Most recently, Tarneit Rise Primary School was identified by the Department of Education and Training for a best practice metropolitan primary case study, highlighting the Victorian High-Ability Program, the Victorian Challenge and Enrichment Series and specialist subjects offered at the school, for inclusion in the High-Ability Toolkit resource available to other schools.

Dr Lawrie Shears Outstanding Global Teaching and Learning

The Dr Lawrie Shears Outstanding Global Teaching and Learning award recognises teams in Victorian government schools that have demonstrated excellence in global learning and engagement at their school and have provided their students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.

This award is named in honour of the late Dr Lawrie Shears who served as Director-General of the Victorian Education Department from 1973 to 1982 and was a strong advocate of building global education connections.

Balwyn High School

Balwyn High School prides itself on the provision of local and international learning experiences for students to learn and engage with their global peers, placing emphasis on the actions students can take as citizens of the world. 

A coherent curriculum and approach to global teaching and learning has built students' appreciation of the interdependence of different cultures to one another and developed students' global competency.  

The Model UN Forum is a standout co-curricular activity where students simulate the United Nations Security Council. Students consider what it would be like for a nation-state to deal with conflict and review the implications of decisive action – in the form of peacekeeping, military action, or other uses of power. Students learn how to exercise power responsibly and to consider the needs and interests of those beyond their own borders.  

Balwyn High School prioritises deep connections with their diverse multicultural local community, building global networks through regular community events and culturally rich co-curricular opportunities for students.