Excellence for all Aboriginal students

Your school is required to incorporate excellence and improvement measures for all Aboriginal students in your school's Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP) and detail the steps you will take to improve learning outcomes.

Image: Four primary students around a glass case of artefacts

‘Australian Governments commit to empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to reach their potential and to ensuring the education community works to ‘close the gap’ for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’.

Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Declaration 2019

Policy and context

All schools must engage and implement the department's Aboriginal Education Policy which confirms our commitment to improving educational outcomes and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

The policy underpins and informs planning, teaching practice and approaches to educational leadership at your school. Responsibility for enacting the policy rests with all departmental staff, both at your school and supporting your school.

The document Turning Policy Into Action supports your school with the implementation of policy.

Incorporating excellence

Your school is required to incorporate excellence and improvement measures for all Aboriginal students into your Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP), and to detail the steps you will take to improve learning outcomes and levels of achievement for all Aboriginal students in line with our Strategic Plan 2018-2023.

The Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration 2019 profiles the importance of Aboriginal education and reinforces the need for excellence in outcomes for Aboriginal students.

Educating Aboriginal students is embedded throughout the Australian professional standards for teachers, particularly in the standard 'Know students and how they learn' and 'Know the content and how to teach it'. When managing accreditation processes at your school, these standards must be considered in the context of those many students in your school with additional needs or a disability.

Understanding Aboriginal student performance

We are committed to improving the educational outcomes and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students so that they excel and achieve in every aspect of their education.

Our goal is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students will match or better the outcomes of the broader student population. This includes increasing the participation and retention of Aboriginal students in schools.

By consulting and engaging with local Aboriginal communities, your school is best placed to support teachers with developing and demonstrating their high expectations for all Aboriginal students. This process supports your teachers to encourage Aboriginal students to pursue personal excellence, including a commitment to learning.

High expectations

High expectations should be reflected in the use of quality teaching and assessment practices, and resources that are culturally inclusive. High expectations are essential to enable your Aboriginal students to achieve age appropriate syllabus outcomes in schools.

In your school, every student is known, valued and cared for. Understanding student performance requires an understanding of the complexity of each student’s needs.

Aboriginal students are not a homogenous group. Each Aboriginal student may also belong to other equity, language, cultural or capability groups. For example, an Aboriginal student may also:

  • have high potential, be gifted or highly gifted in intellectual, creative, social-emotional or physical domains
  • have a first language or dialect other than Standard Australian English and require additional support to develop English language proficiency
  • have additional needs due to disability and/or difficulties in learning or behaviour
  • be from a low socio-economic background requiring support to address the impact of disadvantage.


Research shows that Aboriginal students achieve highly at school when:

  • appropriate opportunities are provided to learn and to develop their talent
  • student growth and achievement are celebrated
  • high expectations of student growth and achievement are fostered within schools and the broader community.

Approach to assessment

Some standard assessments may contain cultural biases making them inappropriate tools for identifying high potential and gifted Aboriginal students.

Professional judgement and discretion are necessary when determining the appropriateness of any assessment tool, as this can impact on the assessment and identification of student abilities. Non-verbal ability tests or dynamic assessments should be considered to counteract these biases.

Learn more

Find out more about School Excellence in Action.


  • Teaching and learning


  • Aboriginal education
  • Access and equity
  • Culture and values
  • Curriculum and learning activities
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Educational accountability
  • Health, safety and wellbeing
  • Learning
  • Rolls and attendance
  • School Excellence Framework
  • Teaching

Business Unit:

  • School Performance – South
Return to top of page Back to top