Aboriginal education in NSW public schools

Strategies to achieve outcomes for Aboriginal students P-12 and increase knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal histories and culture.

Key directions for Aboriginal education

Important information to support your school in planning to meet the identified needs of Aboriginal students.

  • The NSW Department of Education including schools and community education settings (The department), is 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 and training.
  • It is the goal of the department that, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students will match or better the outcomes of the broader student population.
  • The department is committed to increasing knowledge and understanding of the histories, cultures and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of Australia.
  • The department will provide Aboriginal cultural education for all staff and education about Aboriginal Australia for all students, as it is everybody’s business.
  • The strength, diversity, ownership and richness of Aboriginal cultures and Custodianship of Country are respected, valued and promoted.
  • The department is committed to collaborative decision making with Aboriginal Peoples, parents, caregivers, families and their communities.
  • The department recognises the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Incorporated (NSW AECG Inc.) as the peak Community advisory body to the department on Aboriginal education and training at all levels and in all stages of planning and decision making.
  • These commitments affirm the inherent right of Aboriginal students to fair, equitable, culturally inclusive and significant educational opportunities so that all students obtain a high quality education as a platform for enriching their life chances and achieving their full potential.
  • Aboriginal education and training is core business for all staff.

View the Aboriginal Education Policy and Implementation Guide

Together We Are, Together We Can, Together We Will, the NSW Department of Education and NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Inc. Partnership Agreement 2010 - 2020

In the spirit of partnership, the NSW AECG Inc. and the Department of Educations, within their own cultural contexts and practices, jointly commit to respecting, valuing and supporting each other to assist Aboriginal students achieve successful education and training outcomes through four key focus areas.

These focus areas are:

  1. Leadership, planning and accountability involve developing leaders who will work with Aboriginal people to inspire and motivate them to achieve their full potential. Ensuring that the Department and the NSW AECG Inc. are collaboratively planning at all levels to develop inclusive policies, strategies and initiatives.
  2. Ongoing learning and professional development focus on supporting the notion that, in the context of ongoing learning and professional development, people will gain a greater understanding and be better informed of the role and function of both organisations. This will underpin the successful implementation of the Partnership Agreement.
  3. Relationships and pathways focus on building and maintaining respectful and effective working relationships that value the input of all and provides opportunities for people to engage and contribute towards achieving the common goal of striving for successful outcomes for Aboriginal students.
  4. Teaching and training is about quality teaching and education and training experiences are meaningful and relevant. It is about engaging in learning environments where teachers and students have high expectations of each other with the two-pronged outcome of achieving academically and having experiences that encourages the desire for ongoing learning.

Download the Partnership Agreement (PDF 1.01MB)

Visit the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group website

Find my local AECG office location and contact representative

Principals in NSW public schools operate in the context of a strong public education system. Creating Futures Together 2015 - 2017 articulates three strategic directions and key reforms that are being implemented to support every learner in all NSW public schools. The strategic directions link with the State Plan and the Department of Education five year strategic plan.

Creating Futures Together 2015 - 2017 (PDF 160KB)

Aboriginal Education

Raising expectations and enhancing the quality of student learningFostering quality teaching and leadershipNew and better ways of delivering public education
  • Personalised learning pathways are collaboratively developed and regularly monitored to ensure the achievement of Aboriginal students match or better the outcomes of all students.
  • Aboriginal students are supported through key transition points.
  • Aboriginality, identity and the diversity of Aboriginal cultures are valued, respected and promoted to ensure Aboriginal students are attending, engaged
    and achieving.
  • Aboriginal student achievement is recognised and communicated to Aboriginal parents, their extended families and the wider community.
  • All students learn about Aboriginal culture, histories and experiences.
  • All staff participate in Aboriginal cultural education in partnership with their local Aboriginal community.
  • Staff undertake professional learning to increase their knowledge of Aboriginal
    students and how they learn.
  • All staff plan for and implement effective teaching, learning and assessment for Aboriginal students.
  • School leaders actively monitor the implementation of the Aboriginal Education
    and Training Policy and national and state priorities for Aboriginal education.
  • Principals lead planning, people and processes to achieve collaborative decision making between schools and Aboriginal parents, extended family and local
    AECGs.
  • Aboriginal language and culture nests provide a continuous pathway of learning from preschool to tertiary studies for
    Aboriginal people.
  • Key partners such as local AECGs, local Aboriginal organisations,
    local businesses and industries develop and support post school
    pathways for Aboriginal students.
  • Work with the AECG to facilitate open and transparent
    communication about school planning, funding and Aboriginal
    student outcomes.

Local Schools, Local Decisions and RAM

  • Enhanced curriculum opportunities are supported through equity loadings for low level adjustments for disability, Aboriginal background, English language proficiency and socio-economic background.
Learning Elements Teaching Elements Leading Elements
  • School culture demonstrates the building of educational aspiration and ongoing performance improvement across its community. Students take responsibility for their ongoing learning.
  • There is a strategic and planned approach to support the cognitive, emotional, social, physical and spiritual wellbeing of all students.
  • An integrated approach to quality teaching, curriculum planning and delivery, and assessment promotes learning excellence and responsiveness in meeting
    the learning needs of all students.
  • Consistent school-wide practices for assessment and reporting are used to monitor, plan and report on student learning across the curriculum.
  • Students consistently perform at high levels on external and internal school
    performance measures.
  • All teachers are committed to identifying, understanding and implementing the
    most effective teaching methods, with a high priority given to evidence-based
    teaching strategies.
  • Student assessment data are regularly used school-wide to identify student
    achievements and progress, in order to inform future school directions.
  • There are explicit systems for collaboration and feedback to sustain quality
    teaching practice.
  • Professional learning is aligned with the school plan, and its impact on the quality
    of teaching and student learning outcomes is evaluated.
  • All staff demonstrate personal responsibility for maintaining and developing their
    professional standards.
  • The school leadership team supports a culture of high
    expectations and community engagement, resulting in sustained
    and measurable whole-school improvement.
  • The school plan is at the core of continuous improvement efforts,
    with the school’s vision and strategic directions evident in its main
    activity.
  • Resources are strategically used to achieve improved student
    outcomes.
  • Management systems, structures and processes underpin ongoing
    school improvement and the professional effectiveness of all
    school members.

All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people achieve their full learning potential, are empowered to shape their own futures, and are supported to embrace their culture and identity as Australia’s First Nations peoples.

  • Partnerships
  • Culture and identity
  • Leadership, quality teaching, workforce development
  • School and child readiness
  • Attendance
  • Literacy and numeracy
  • Transition points including pathways to post school options

Download the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy 2015

Download the Summary: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy 2015 (PDF 278KB)

The Professional Knowledge domain of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers relate directly to Aboriginal students and Aboriginal people.

1.4 Strategies for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
GraduateProficientHighly AccomplishedLead
Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of the impact of culture, cultural identity and linguistic background on the education of students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.Design and implement effective teaching strategies that are responsive to the local community and cultural setting, linguistic background and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.Provide advice and support colleagues in the implementation of effective teaching strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students using knowledge of and support from community representatives.Develop teaching programs that support equitable and ongoing participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students by engaging in collaborative relationships with community representatives and parents/carers.
2.4 Understand and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians
GraduateProficientHighly AccomplishedLead
Demonstrate broad knowledge of, understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.Provide opportunities for students to develop understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.Support colleagues with providing opportunities for students to develop understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.Lead initiatives to assist colleagues with opportunities for students to develop understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.

© AITSL 2014, (http://www.aitsl.edu.au/australian-professional-standards-for-teachers/standards/list)

For further information on the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers visit the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership website.

English as an Additional Language/Dialect

The Capability Framework: Teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander EAL/D learners is a cross-jurisdictional initiative between the;

  • NSW Department of Education
  • Northern Territory Government
  • The Department of Education (Western Australia)
  • And the Queensland Government

It was developed to increase the capacity of teachers in rural, remote and metropolitan areas to better meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander EAL/D learners.  The Framework is aligned with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and can be used by teachers and school leaders to;

  • Inform practice, self-assess their capabilities and to inform professional learning goals
  • to determine staff professional learning needs in the area of teaching Aboriginal EAL/D learners
  • support teachers in the accreditation process through the PDP process

It is highly recommended that teachers familiarise themselves with The Capability Framework.

Aboriginal educational contexts: Aboriginal English

A series of short videos filmed at an EAL/D workshop. Topics include:

  • Who are Aboriginal EAL/D students
  • The Aboriginal English continuum
  • Self Awareness
  • Accents and dialects
  • Home talk and school talk
  • How can teachers support Aboriginal students

Aboriginal educational contexts: Aboriginal English film clip series

Transcript of Aboriginal educational contexts: Aboriginal English


Effective practice in Aboriginal education

Aboriginal Education and Community Engagement selected two NSW Public Schools to be filmed to showcase their effective practices in Aboriginal education.

Both schools demonstrated how to successfully connect with their Aboriginal community and were outstanding examples of shared decision making.

There are a number of key messages in the films that communicate additional effective practices in Aboriginal education including:

  • Seeking cultural advice and understanding
  • Consulting with your AECG
  • Sharing our history
  • Student engagement
  • Embedding Aboriginal histories and cultures into the school plan
  • Building students leadership capacity
  • Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students coming together
  • Building connections and relationships
  • Aboriginal content and perspectives embedded in the school curriculum
  • Building staff and students cultural knowledge about Aboriginal culture, histories and experiences
  • Building staff cultural competencies
  • Valuing Aboriginal culture in the school environment

Coffs Harbour High School

Coffs Harbour High School was selected for Garlambirla: A musical with soul. The school created a musical that connected meaningfully with their local Aboriginal community to tell the shared histories of Coffs Harbour.

Garlambirla - Effective Practice in Aboriginal Education in NSW Public Schools film clip

Audio description of Garlambirla: A Musical with Soul - Effective Practice in Aboriginal Education in NSW Public Schools.

Transcript of Garlambirla: A Musical with Soul - Effective Practice in Aboriginal Education in NSW Public Schools

Moss Vale High School

Moss Vale High School was selected for their development of Our Ways, a local adaption based on the 8 Ways of teaching pedagogy. The school connected with multiple Aboriginal Elders and community members to encompass local Aboriginal knowledge and perspectives to improve student outcomes through the development of a localised framework.

Our Ways - Effective Practice in Aboriginal Education in NSW Public Schools film clip

Audio description of Our Ways - Effective Practice in Aboriginal Education in NSW Public Schools

Transcript of Our Ways - Effective Practice in Aboriginal Education in NSW Public Schools


Developing a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) with Reconciliation Australia

For Reconciliation Week, the Learning and Teaching Directorate, Aboriginal Education and Communities and Reconciliation Australia delivered Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools and Early Learning.

For more information on developing a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for your school (Adobe Connect Session), visit the Reconciliation Australia website.


Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Youth Development Camp

The Aboriginal Education and Communities Directorate in conjunction with the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Incorporated (NSW AECG Inc.) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mathematics Alliance (ATSIMA) have run several STEM Youth Development camps for Aboriginal students from Years 5 to 11.

The camps contribute to creating generational change for students to achieve better outcomes at school and provide access to post-school learning and employment pathways in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The Aboriginal Education and Communities Directorate, together with the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Incorporated (NSW AECG Inc.) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mathematics Alliance (ATSIMA) is committed to supporting and raising the academic achievement of Aboriginal students.

These camps inspire and motivate students to participate in STEM subjects, consider STEM as a future career or investigate the many diverse and interesting areas of science, technology, engineering and maths.

For more information on STEM including information on future camps, please visit the NSW AECG Inc. website and the ATSIMA website for more information.


Junior AECG membership

Junior AECG membership is open to all Aboriginal students in Year 6 to 12 enrolled in school.

Junior AECG membership provides opportunities for young Aboriginal students to develop leadership skills, communication skills, public speaking skills and provides a voice for young people to express their opinions and perspectives on issues relating to Aboriginal education.

To learn more about Junior AECG membership visit the NSW AECG Inc. website or phone 02 9550 5666.

Additional strategies Aboriginal Education and Communities supports

  • STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics
  • Clontarf – Clontarf Foundation - An academy for male Aboriginal students
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