Strengthening DET regional relationships and support: Consultation Paper

 
Strengthening DET regional relationships and support: Consultation Paper
Strengthening DET
regional relationships
and support:
Consultation Paper

             Title of the Section   1
Strengthening DET regional relationships and support: Consultation Paper
Published by the Department of
Education and Training

Melbourne
April 2015

©State of Victoria (Department of
Education and Training) 2015

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ISBN 978-0-7594-0793-0

This document is also available on the internet at
http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/department/
Pages/regionalsupport.aspx
Strengthening DET regional relationships and support: Consultation Paper
Message from the Deputy Premier

The Victorian Government has committed to establishing             A strong regional presence is essential to building Victoria
Victoria as the Education State. This means creating a global      as the Education State, so I have asked the department to
centre of learning and development excellence – a cohesive         develop proposals for enhancing the roles of our regional
education system that relentlessly pursues the best outcomes       offices, with a particular focus on how we can best support
and opportunities for every learner, regardless of their           government schools. This consultation paper seeks to
background or their starting point for learning.                   engage with key stakeholders to determine the best roles
                                                                   and supports to meet the needs of our learners, teachers,
To achieve this vision, our education system must be
                                                                   education leaders, schools and providers. It is crucial that we
characterised by:
                                                                   reimagine our regional presence to create a sustainable model
•• high expectations for all learners                              that can be fully embedded across Victoria and that provides
•• engagement of all learners in a curriculum that is deep,        certainty and lasting support.
   challenging and connected to their world
                                                                   This paper outlines the current arrangements for regional
•• outstanding professional practice, backed by contemporary
                                                                   support. It then describes the enhanced roles that regions
   research, innovation and evaluation
                                                                   could fulfil and the expertise regions would need to most
•• authentic relationships across all levels of the system, with
                                                                   effectively support our system. The intent of this paper is to
   high levels of mutual trust and respect, and
                                                                   focus on how the department can revitalise its interactions
•• effective place-based support for learners and providers,
                                                                   with schools, while building on the strengths of current
   recognising that families and educators relate and connect
                                                                   interactions with early childhood services, TAFEs and other
   primarily with their local communities.
                                                                   VET providers.
To build such a system, its component parts must first interact
                                                                   The department is seeking feedback on these possible
with cohesion, unity and shared purpose. This includes
                                                                   roles and areas of expertise from school principals and
ensuring that schools, early childhood services and vocational
                                                                   the education workforce, school councils, early childhood
education and training (VET) providers have strong and
                                                                   providers, TAFEs, department regional and central office staff,
effective relationships with the regional and central offices of
                                                                   stakeholders, local government and interested members of
the Department of Education and Training (DET).
                                                                   the education community across Victoria. The paper includes
Before we take even the first steps towards this vision, it is     a number of discussion questions to assist you in structuring
clear that the current regional arrangements are not up to the     your feedback.
task. Despite the best efforts of dedicated regional staff over
                                                                   I encourage you to get involved in designing a strengthened
recent years, resources have simply been spread too thinly.
                                                                   regional presence, one that will help Victoria to become the
The end result has been that regional offices do not have the
                                                                   Education State.
resources they need to fulfil their roles and many schools have
been left with a sense of abandonment and doubt.

     The Hon. James Merlino MP
     Deputy Premier
     Minister for Education

1   Strengthening DET regional relationships and support: Consultation Paper
Strengthening DET regional relationships and support: Consultation Paper
Consultation Paper Overview

1. Consultation approach and design principles 			                                    3
Outlines our approach to consultation and establishes the principles by
which any options for enhanced regional supports will be assessed.

2. Current arrangements 					                                                         4
Provides a brief overview of the existing departmental regional arrangements,
and a summary of stakeholder feedback on the current arrangements.

3. Enhancing the role of the department 					                                         7
To realise the vision of an Education State, we need an effective and empowered
workforce, effectively supported by regional and central offices of the department.
This section covers early thinking on areas of support that could be enhanced,
based on what our stakeholders have told us.

4. Areas of expertise 					                                                           9
Identifies areas of expertise that the department believes will be important to
improving regional support for early childhood services and schools as
well as outlining some of the factors to consider in delivering these roles.

5. How our education system works together 			                                        11
Explores issues relating to the balance of support and performance management and
strengthening network arrangements.

6. What could a new department regional model look like? 		                           12
Outlines some preliminary high level options for the regional model.

7. Next steps 					                                                                   14

                                                                                           Title of the Section   2
Strengthening DET regional relationships and support: Consultation Paper
1 Consultation approach and
  design principles

 Consultation and information
 collection
 This consultation process is designed to engage our system
 partners in the decision making processes of the department
 and to help shape discussions on regional arrangements.
 The information in this document is preliminary thinking and
 is shared in the spirit of transparency and engagement. We
 encourage feedback on all aspects of this paper and have
 included prompts throughout the document to encourage an
 open dialogue.
 There are a range of ways to provide feedback. Further
 information can be found at:
 www.education.vic.gov.au/about/department/Pages/
 regionalsupport.aspx
 The information you provide as part of the consultation process
 will be collated and stored in a secure database and will be
 de-identified prior to sharing or publication. Quotes may be
 used from the responses in the consultation report, but will be
 summarised or not used if they identify the respondent.
 In addition to written feedback, the department will engage
 with targeted stakeholders through a series of forums and
 conversations.

 Design principles
 The following principles are proposed to guide decisions on
                                                                      •• A sustainable model that can provide certainty and reliable
 delivering enhanced regional support.
                                                                         support is paramount in any consideration of change.
 •• Proposals will focus on improving the support the                 •• The focus for change will be on enhanced support for
    department provides to all elements of the service system.           schools, while seeking to build on and integrate with the
 •• Changes will be consistent with the establishment of a               strong and valued support for early childhood services and
    unified system that will build Victoria as the Education State.      VET providers in regions.
 •• Where it is efficient and delivers the best outcomes,             •• A diverse range of voices will be sought through the
    department staff who provide direct support to schools and           consultation process.
    other providers should be locally based to be in a better
    position to understand the local service context.
 •• The department’s arrangements will be robust and flexible,          Consultation questions:
                                                                        1. Do the proposed design principles reflect a suitable
    catering for a diverse range of needs and contexts.
                                                                           approach to guiding enhanced regional support?
 •• As much as possible, capabilities and resources will be
    aligned to the department arrangements that best support
    our system.

3   Strengthening DET regional relationships and support: Consultation Paper
Strengthening DET regional relationships and support: Consultation Paper
2 Current arrangements

The department’s                The functions of regional offices are varied and highlight the different relationships the
                                department has with the different sectors and partners. This includes:
regional structure              •• unique responsibilities and accountability for government schools, including as
and functions                      system architect, core funder, employer and manager of performance
                                •• contract manager of some early childhood services
The department currently        •• direct provider of some services, such as school nurses
                                •• relationship manager with a range of partners to facilitate improvements in
has four regions -                 outcomes, join up services and lead place-based planning to achieve longer term
North-Eastern Victoria,            objectives across the education system.
North-Western Victoria,         These varied roles support a strong focus on creating integrated service provision
South-Eastern Victoria          that supports learners and families across the lifespan and to facilitate whole-of-
and South-Western               community approaches to learning and development.

Victoria. Each region has       Regional office functions are currently arranged under the following broad themes:
a metropolitan growth           Child, learner and family services
corridor, a regional centre,    •• deliver health, wellbeing and support services to children, young people and their
                                   families to assist them in their learning and development. Examples of services
rural areas, and extends           include school nurses, visiting teachers, early childhood intervention services
to the Victorian border.           intake teams, specialist children’s services, MCH Line, Parentline, engagement
The regions are serviced           officers and disability co-ordinators
                                •• broker and support partnerships including strategic relationships with the
by regional offices located        Departments of Health and Human Services, Justice and Victoria Police along with
across Victoria.                   local government to assist vulnerable and at risk children and young people to
                                   succeed
                                •• strengthen professional communities of practice for Allied Health workforces
                                   including team around the learner approach for our most vulnerable learners.
                                Early childhood and school performance, accountability and improvement
                                •• monitor the performance of early childhood providers though contract and
                                   relationship management to set high standards of performance and address under
                                   performance where required
                                •• support school performance improvement based on an agreed framework of
                                   strategic planning, reporting and review
                                •• lead interventions in schools requiring additional support
                                •• monitor principal performance and development
                                •• facilitate engagement between services and Koorie communities and families.
                                Service planning and support
                                •• undertake provision planning
                                •• coordinate emergency management
                                •• develop and implement community-based learning and development plans to
                                   improve child and learner outcomes and lift social and economic outcomes
                                •• work with other agencies and stakeholders, including local councils, industry, other
                                   parts of government, youth partnerships and pathways services to ensure the
                                   learning and development system contributes to broader community, social and
                                   economic aspirations in the regions.

                                                                                                   Title of the Section   4
Strengthening DET regional relationships and support: Consultation Paper
Currently, around half of all regional staff effort is focused on   •• lack of real partnership between the department and schools
supporting early childhood services and programs and half           •• insufficient regional capability and capacity to respond to
primarily focus on schools.                                            and actively support schools
                                                                    •• limited support for teaching and learning practices, including
There are also services delivered at a regional level to support
                                                                       literacy, numeracy, behaviour management, engagement and
learner participation in the VET system. This includes support
                                                                       wellbeing programs
for Learn Local organisations (community based training
                                                                    •• insufficient resources for principal networks to collectively
providers), executive support for the Adult Community and
                                                                       address student wellbeing, student transitions and teacher
Further Education (ACFE) Regional Councils and facilitating
                                                                       capability building
engagement between TAFE and other VET providers and
                                                                    •• lack of support for emergency management, critical incidents
industry to address barriers to market responsiveness,
                                                                       and complaints
workforce development, participation and productivity.
                                                                    •• reduced focus on facilitating collegiate professional

Stakeholder views of the                                               development
                                                                    •• over emphasis on performance monitoring instead of
current arrangements                                                   tangible support to enhance performance and effectiveness
                                                                    •• reduced sense of the department’s system leadership role
There are a number of strengths in the current arrangements,           and active advocacy for government schools.
including a committed and hard-working regional workforce
dedicated to improving outcomes for learners and their families.    These concerns highlight a need for a greater focus on providing
The current arrangement also supports integrated approaches         support when and where schools need it, creating greater
to early childhood services and school education and provides       clarity about the roles of different parts of the system and where
opportunities for rural and regional services and schools to        school principals and teachers can go for expertise and advice.
directly partner with metropolitan counterparts. It is important    Strengthening this support is crucial to ensuring that principals
that we capture and understand the strengths of the current         in particular are able to focus on their core role as educational
system and build on these where we can.                             leaders to be able to drive improved outcomes for their learners.
                                                                    Beyond these immediate concerns, there are challenges and
It is also clear that there are particular issues and limitations
                                                                    opportunities for the regional arrangements to better support
with the current arrangements that require immediate
                                                                    high quality learning and development from birth and build
attention, particularly for government schools. We have had
                                                                    strong pathways from learning through to employment. Greater
consistent and sustained feedback from school principals and
                                                                    efforts are required to achieve our vision of a cohesive education
their representative bodies that the current regional support
                                                                    system that relentlessly pursues the best outcomes for all
arrangements are insufficient to provide the range of support
                                                                    learners.
required by schools and some school principals feel increasingly
isolated from the department.                                       For the early childhood sector, we have received consistent
                                                                    stakeholder feedback that there are many strengths in the
Principals have told us there are a number of challenges with       relationships between regions and services and partner
the current arrangements:                                           organisations. However, there remain opportunities to build on
•• lack of certainty regarding the level and type of support        the current system by:
   available from the department (regionally and centrally)         •• strengthening the local partnerships between the
•• lack of understanding from the department about the nature          department and local councils to better plan for and provide
   of work of schools, the demands placed on principals and            early years services
   pressures they are under

5   Strengthening DET regional relationships and support: Consultation Paper
Strengthening DET regional relationships and support: Consultation Paper
•• developing and sustaining partnerships and networks with
   a range of local service providers to build capacity and
   capability in service provision
•• enhancing how the early childhood services are integrated
   into the broader education system, including supporting
   transitions between services, between early childhood
   services and schools and the broader supports provided to
   families.
Vocational education and training providers, the ACFE Board
and industry have also told us there are a number of challenges
with the current arrangements:
•• ACFE Regional Councils have indicated that they require
   more departmental support to perform their functions
   of providing expertise and local knowledge about adult
   education needs and advising the ACFE Board on regional
   priorities
•• given the variations in industry needs in different areas of
   Victoria, the need for place-based approaches is increasing,
   leading to a growing demand for regional support.
As much as the focus of this paper is on strengthening regional
support to schools, we are keen to hear from stakeholders
across all sectors about how we can build on the current
strengths and capabilities to enhance the role of regions in our
system. We would also welcome views on the initial priorities
for additional functions and support for these sectors.

  Consultation questions:
  2. What are the strengths of the current regional support
     arrangements?
  3. To what extent do the concerns outlined above reflect
     your experience of current regional support
     arrangements?

                                                                   Title of the Section   6
3 Enhancing the role of the department

There are clear opportunities to strengthen the way different                delivering high quality education to their students.
parts of our system work in partnership to deliver our vision of
                                                                             Building on this evidence, it is proposed that central and regional
the Education State. Effective partnerships require a mutual
                                                                             offices could have a number of enhanced roles, which may
understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each of the
                                                                             include expanding or refocusing existing functions and providing
partners. Therefore it is important that we provide greater
                                                                             greater consistency in fulfilling these roles across the state. This
clarity about roles and the support available from the central
                                                                             includes recognising that some of the current arrangements,
and regional offices.
                                                                             such as one senior adviser to support approximately fifty
                                                                             schools, is insufficient and creates unrealistic demands on staff.
How the department will                                                      While a shift in resources and expanded range of expertise
better support schools                                                       at the regional level may initially focus on schools, there may
                                                                             also be opportunities for these staff to take a broader role to
There is established evidence from the highest performing
                                                                             build strong understanding of local areas and develop effective
education systems that there are specific roles that should
                                                                             partnerships with a range of services. Possible enhanced roles
be undertaken centrally and at a regional level that will add
                                                                             are outlined below.
value to schools, and allow them to focus on their core roles in

    Enhanced roles of central office             Enhanced roles of regional offices
    •• Set clear direction for early childhood   •• Provide professional and wellbeing            •• Provide expert advice on effective
       services and schools and work with           support for school principals                    school improvement approaches and
       them to test, refine and monitor the      •• Provide expert advice and support to             contemporary teaching and learning
       impact of these directions over time         schools on complex issues e.g. supporting        practice
    •• Manage the policy and improvement            learners with disabilities                    •• Support schools to successfully implement
       cycle with real input from regions,       •• Expand delivery administrative and               AusVELS, the VCE and VCAL and to use
       services, schools and families to            management support functions that                high quality assessment tools and data
       ensure that policies are achievable          require understanding of local context e.g.   •• Support collaborative exchange between
       and deliver the outcomes that are            workforce management strategies                  schools, facilitate school networks,
       intended                                                                                      actively share best practice and connect
                                                 •• Provide a common communication
    •• Provide early childhood services             channel to schools and services,                 schools so they can support each other
       and schools with access to the               communicating policy objectives and           •• Work with a range of other government
       high quality tools, resources and            feeding back to the centre to inform policy      partners and agencies and facilitate the
       the latest research, and help them           development                                      linking of local services, particularly those
       evaluate what works and share it                                                              that can effectively address disadvantage.
                                                 •• Provide local support to manage crisis
       across the system
                                                    situations, e.g natural disasters or major    •• Ensure early childhood services, schools
    •• Provide effective system planning            local incidents                                  and other providers take collective
       and monitoring to ensure all learners                                                         responsibility for the learners in their
       have access to high quality education                                                         community

                                                   What does this mean for schools?
      •• Trusted relationships with regional           •• Greater support for the establishment      •• A clear program of professional
         staff who understand the local context           and maintenance of principal/school           development for every principal
         and can actively support the individual          networks                                   •• Improved opportunities to influence
         needs of schools                              •• The streamlining of administrative            regional and central office policy and
      •• Enhanced support for teaching and                responsibilities and support for              program design
         learning practices, school improvement,          meeting regulatory requirements,
         literacy, numeracy, behaviour                    resulting in more time for principals
         management and wellbeing programs                to focus on their core role as an
                                                          educational leader

7    Strengthening DET regional relationships and support: Consultation Paper
Implications for early                                              •• the department’s role in facilitating how higher education,
                                                                       TAFE and other VET providers respond to changes in industry
childhood services, VET                                                and economic conditions at the local level

providers and other partners                                        •• support at key transition points, from early childhood
                                                                       settings into schools, between schools and from schools
                                                                       into higher education, training and employment, including
There are opportunities to enhance the way we work with
                                                                       increasing the number of learners in rural and regional
other key services across the education system, recognising
                                                                       Victoria who complete higher education and training.
that the department has different relationships, roles and
responsibilities with different service providers.
In particular, there may be ways we can build on the strengths of     Consultation questions:
                                                                      4. Do you agree with the enhanced roles of the
current arrangements and the valued contributions of regional
                                                                         department described above for schools? If not, what
staff to enhance:
                                                                         would you change?
•• the focus on strategic relationships with local government,        5. What are the opportunities for enhanced support with
   early childhood services and schools to support planning and          other education and development services, such as
   delivery of services for children and families                        early childhood services, VET providers or Learn Locals?
•• our response to disadvantage, through regions working to           6. Are there other key issues to be considered in the
                                                                         design of new arrangements?
   increase access and participation of vulnerable children in
   services across the birth to school continuum
•• the level of support and monitoring provided for TAFE and
   other VET providers and Learn Locals to ensure consistently
   high quality service delivery across Victoria

                                                                                                             Title of the Section    8
4 Areas of expertise

    A strengthened regional presence must include better access         already have considerable expertise and a history of working
    for schools to expertise in a range of areas to support improved    closely with early childhood services and schools across
    learning outcomes for all learners.                                 many of these areas, however we recognise that they aren’t
                                                                        sufficiently resourced to do so comprehensively. Attracting and
    Given the diverse needs across Victoria, we know that:
                                                                        developing the right people for these types of roles is absolutely
    •• some leaders and communities will require more in-depth          critical. The people who provide this expertise must carry the
       support than others, for example smaller and more isolated       respect of early childhood services and schools and effectively
       early childhood services and schools may have particular         work with them in a genuine partnership to improve outcomes
       needs                                                            for all learners.
    •• local needs will determine whether some expert support
                                                                        As part of this consultation process, we will be inviting ideas
       should be permanently available within regions while other
                                                                        about what additional expert support may be required, how it
       expertise may be sourced on an occasional, as-needs basis.
                                                                        should be delivered, as well as ideas about the relative priorities
    The list below outlines the core areas of expertise that we want    of any initial additional investment or phasing of supports.
    to provide through regions in the future. Our regional staff

     Partnership building     This could include a broker to oversee local coordination of services and support to schools, alongside
     and brokerage across     local government and community support and services; facilitation of school networks; advocacy on
     sectors                  behalf of schools, early childhood and other providers and communities; collaboration with local training
                              providers, ACFE, Local Learning and Employment Networks (LLENs), industry and employers to effect
                              strong transitions to work and further study.
     School improvement       This could include senior adviser support to develop and implement school improvement programs and
     and management           related within-school, network or state-level change initiatives. This may include coaching in diagnosis
                              of challenges, the use of high effect strategies, and how to go about effective, lasting implementation
                              and evaluation. This would be informed by current research about how adults learn and effective change
                              management processes. Intensive and sustained support could be made available for new or acting
                              principals, or for schools in challenging circumstances.
     Curriculum,              This could include specialist consultant support to work with networks, principals, school leadership
     assessment and           teams and classroom teachers to ensure whole-school planning and implementation of AusVELS,
     pedagogy                 VCE and VCAL, effective teaching practice and school-based assessment processes. It could include
                              facilitation of curriculum connections between , early childhood providers and primary schools, local
                              primary and secondary schools, secondary schools and vocational education and training providers.
     School operations        This could include additional guidance and access to expert advice for principals regarding: undertaking
                              workforce change management initiatives, establishing effective relationships with school councils, OHS
                              and school finance issues.It could also include additional emergency management support for schools
                              and other services; additional support for principals and parents to work through and resolve parent
                              complaints; or aggregating SSSOs into regions to reduce the management burden currently experienced
                              by principals and networks.
     Wellbeing and            This could include greater assistance to support students who are vulnerable, disengaged, and those with
     engagement               disabilities or challenging behaviour. Mechanisms for support might include a ‘rapid response’ function to
                              provide immediate support to schools facing major student critical incidents and emergencies.

9      Strengthening DET regional relationships and support: Consultation Paper
Factors to be considered in                                         •• designing which supports are best funded and provided
                                                                       through different system levels (the department’s central
delivering enhanced roles                                              office, regional offices or directly through schools/services),

and expertise                                                          including identifying opportunities for economies of scale by
                                                                       pooling funding at a regional or central system level
                                                                    •• balancing the time and financial costs of change - ensuring
There is no doubt that changes are required to the current
                                                                       that the benefits of any proposed changes in function
arrangements to help address the issues outlined in this
                                                                       outweigh the costs and potential disruptions to key services
paper and to create a system that will deliver our vision for the
                                                                       and supports.
Education State. However, building expertise and functions in
our regions requires consideration of a number of additional
factors, including:                                                   Consultation questions:
                                                                      7. Are the areas of expertise listed above of value? Why?
•• assessing trade-offs, such as acknowledging that greater           8. Are there other areas of expertise that would be useful
   investment in on the ground support will reduce any                    and should be considered?
   additional funding that can be made available directly for         9. Of the areas listed here or the others you may have
   early childhood services and schools                                   identified, which should be prioritised for investment?
•• balancing competing priorities, recognising that highly                Why?
   specialist expertise cannot be consistently provided in every      10. What would be the most efficient and effective ways of
   location and may only be accessible on an as-needs basis               providing access to expertise for schools? How should
•• recognising the value in having a diverse range of                     the expertise be delivered to meet the different levels of
   approaches that will suit schools and services of different            need for different schools and services?
   types, sizes and community contexts, while delivering this in      11. What characteristics, experience and expertise are
                                                                          required of the workforce?
   an affordable way

                                                                                                                Title of the Section     10
5 How our education system works together

 There are some areas where the role of regions is more             There is, however, great variability across Victoria in terms of
 contested and we need further advice from stakeholders to get      the structure, geographical boundaries, role and strength of
 the balance right.                                                 network arrangements.
 Balancing support and performance management for                   It is timely to consider what is working well across the range
 schools                                                            of current networks and identify opportunities to build on
                                                                    these strengths and learn from previous experiences. A range
 Regions have dual responsibility for providing hands-on support
                                                                    of new and/or additional models for network/partnership
 and interventions to guide school improvement efforts and build
                                                                    arrangements could be considered. These networks could take
 capability, as well as monitoring the performance of schools and
                                                                    a number of different forms and fulfil a range of roles, including:
 school principals.
                                                                    •• mandated network/cluster arrangements for schools based
 There is no doubt that school leaders have the primary
                                                                       on geographical locations that provide a professional
 responsibility for working with their staff and communities to
                                                                       support network and create collective approaches to
 achieve improved outcomes for their students. The challenge
                                                                       professional development and/or school improvement
 lies in identifying when and how different types of support,
                                                                    •• professional networks between principals with shared interests
 capability building and intervention are required to ensure all
                                                                       across the state that provide collegial support and guidance
 school leaders can be successful. These functions can create
                                                                    •• networks between schools with similar school improvement
 tensions for schools and regional staff, and it is important to
                                                                       contexts or with interests in pursuing similar best practice
 get the roles and responsibilities clear and the balance between
                                                                       approaches, regardless of their geographical proximity
 these functions right.
                                                                    •• cross-government partnerships/networks – for example
 Strengthening network arrangements                                    with local government, Victoria Police and the Department of
 For many schools and other providers, networks have been              Health and Human Services.
 instrumental in providing access to professional learning, in      Kindergarten Cluster Management (KCM) brings together a
 developing strong professional relationships, and in working       network of community-based kindergarten services into a
 collaboratively to improve outcomes.                               single organisation dedicated to the provision of quality early
 Networks can take many forms and mean different things             education services. The KCM Policy Framework is currently
 to different people. They can range from informal sets of          being reviewed in consultation with the early childhood sector
 relationships through to highly formal governed partnerships.      to strengthen the model and ensure a consistent focus on
 Different network arrangements have developed over time to:        outcomes for children. The model is particularly important in
                                                                    supporting rural and regional kindergartens and provides a
 •• coordinate services, such as the Student Support Services       clear point for linkages with school networks.
    Officer (SSSO) networks that oversee the delivery of a range
    of supports to students who have additional needs or are at     Regions could have an explicit role in facilitating the
    risk of disengagement, including deploying psychologists,       establishment of a range of networks, such as providing
    guidance officers, speech pathologists and social workers.      practical support and resourcing to ensure their ongoing
 •• facilitate professional communities of practice focusing on     functioning, and capturing and sharing exemplary practice. We
    particular approaches to school improvement or specific         are seeking feedback on the most valuable role regions can play
    curriculum areas                                                for different types of networks in different circumstances.
 •• create place-based approaches to particular challenges
    such as transitions from early childhood services to school,     Consultation questions:
    primary to secondary school and school to further education      12. What should be the balance between support and
    and training, for example Linking Learning sites and the             performance management within the regional arrangements?
                                                                     13. What form should networks take and what role should
    LLENs and ACFE Regional Councils.
                                                                         they play?
                                                                     14. What role should regions play in supporting networks?

11   Strengthening DET regional relationships and support: Consultation Paper
6 What could a new department
  regional model look like?

Our immediate focus is to ensure that regional offices are
resourced appropriately to deliver the key functions and           Possible models
supports that government schools need. This includes working       We have developed some preliminary models to strengthen
with regional staff, schools and stakeholders to clarify their     regional services and support in Victoria. The options below are
priority areas for additional support and expertise, in the        in no way definitive, but are presented to stimulate discussion
context of broader reforms that will make Victoria the Education   about the optimal department regional arrangements.
State.
                                                                   Model A – retain four regions but provide additional support
In particular, the Victorian Government is committed to
investigating ways to:                                             The four-region structure has been in operation since January
                                                                   2013. Perhaps the most significant benefit of this structure
•• increase the number of senior roles available to support        has been greater consistency in functions, structure and
   principals and schools                                          responsibilities across all regions. The learner is the focus
•• improve the support provided to new and acting principals       of regional work, no matter what age and stage, through an
•• improve access to ongoing professional learning for             integrated, life-course approach. There has also been solid
   principals                                                      movement towards the achievement of place-based outcomes
•• ensure a fundamental focus on enhancing teaching and            and functions.
   student learning.
This may include opportunities to rethink existing services        However, currently there are not sufficient resources provided
and support, and re-allocate where necessary - including           through this structure to meet the needs of schools and other
considerations of the best balance of specialist and generalist    services across the state. As part of this option, additional
support.                                                           resources could be deployed within the existing structure to
                                                                   enhance the support currently provided by the four regions.
Once these priorities are clear, it may be timely to consider      For example, funds could be directed to the employment of
the most effective operational structure for delivering these      additional senior regional staff and specialist support e.g. in
functions and supports. This recognises that any consideration     teaching and learning, curriculum and assessment, student
of structures can only be reasonably considered once there has     wellbeing and engagement.
been clear agreement regarding the core roles and functions
the regional structures are aiming to deliver. However, any        Model B – expanding the number of regions
consideration of structural changes requires weighing up issues    Some schools and services have expressed a desire for more
such as:                                                           regions that are geographically closer. This would create greater
•• how best to support planning and coordination of services in    visibility of senior department leaders at a local level and more
   geographic areas                                                clearly recognise the different contexts of metropolitan and
•• responding to concerns regarding the lack of visibility of      rural and regional areas.
   senior department staff for schools                             A range of possible configurations for achieving this could be
•• minimising fragmentation and ensuring consistent advice         explored. This includes reverting to the nine region structure
   and policy across Victoria                                      department had prior to 2013. Alternatively, some Victorian
•• the right balance of additional investment in on-the-ground     government departments have previously operated through
   supports compared to organisational infrastructure and          a structure of eight regions or the department could pursue a
   senior staff                                                    seven region structure similar to the one recently adopted by
•• the impact of disruptive changes on regional staff and the      the Department of Justice and Regulation.
   delivery of services
•• alignment with broader efforts to create a unified system
   across early childhood services, schools and TAFE and other
   VET providers through the Education State agenda.

                                                                                                              Title of the Section     12
Regardless of the expanded number of regions, each region
 could then be further organised with:
                                                                         Possible roles
                                                                         Enhanced  rolesof
                                                                                        of regional offices
                                                                                           regional offices
 •• place-based and functional sub-branches (e.g. services,              •• Undertake service planning and monitoring
    provider performance, and engagement and planning)                   •• Deliver supports that are more efficiently provided at a
 OR                                                                         regional level e.g. administrative functions
 •• place-based and sector specific sub-branches (e.g. early             •• Act as a communication channel between local areas and
    years, school, further education and training).                         the centre
                                                                         •• Design policy implementation and feed back to the centre
 Model C – retain four administrative regions but shift the                 to inform policy development
 department’s primary system interface to seventeen smaller              •• Establish and maintain common practice for frontline
 local areas                                                                teams
                                                                         •• Monitor quality assurance and accountability measures
 This option incorporates seventeen areas within the four
                                                                         •• Manage rapid response teams that can be deployed to
 existing regions, consistent with a range of human services
                                                                            manage emergencies
 delivery and relationship functions including disability services,
                                                                         •• Manage information and data to support improvement
 public housing and youth justice. These areas would have a
 strong focus on the provision of differentiated support for early
 childhood services, schools and VET providers/industry and
 would complement existing local, place-based arrangements               Possible roles
                                                                         Enhanced  rolesof
                                                                                        of local areas
                                                                                            regional offices
 focused on improving learner outcomes and geographical
 principal networks.                                                     •• Act as key DET point of contact for schools, early childhood
                                                                            providers, Learn Locals, industry and training providers
 Given that this structure represents a significant shift from the
                                                                         •• Provide differentiated expert advice and support to
 current and previous arrangements, the following table outlines
                                                                            schools and providers based on local demand
 the possible distribution of roles for the four regions and the
                                                                         •• Support at risk students and families to navigate across
 seventeen areas:                                                           and beyond the system
                                                                         •• Ensure connections to communities and create a sense of
                                                                            collective responsibility for the children and young people
                                                                            in a geographical area
                                                                         •• Provide expert advice to address complex issues on the
                                                                            ground
                                                                         •• Facilitate local level capability building
                                                                         •• Facilitate school networks
                                                                         •• Provide feedback to the region on policy implementation

                                                                        Consultation questions:
                                                                        15. Which structural model - A, B or C - do you believe
                                                                            would deliver against the design principles outlined
                                                                            on Page 3? Why?
                                                                        16. Are there other arrangements that could be
                                                                            considered?
                                                                        17. Are there any other comments you would like to make
                                                                            regarding ways to enhance regional support?

13   Strengthening DET regional relationships and support: Consultation Paper
7 Next steps

The Victorian Government has a clear vision for creating an          The outcomes of the consultation process will be publicly
effective education system that delivers the best outcomes for       released later this year. The Government has identified this
all learners, and supports all schools and services to be centres    work as a key priority and is looking to make improvements to
of excellence. We want to work with you on how to create the         the current arrangements as soon as possible and to deliver
best possible regional supports that will help make this vision of   those improvements in stages if required. It is expected that
Victoria as the Education State a reality.                           additional support will be provided through regions from the
                                                                     beginning of 2016 at the latest. The opportunities for enhanced
Between April and June 2015, we will be consulting on the range
                                                                     roles, expertise and supports will depend on the priorities
of issues outlined in this paper. Facilitated discussions will be
                                                                     identified through the consultation and will be subject to our
held with school principals and the education workforce, school
                                                                     normal staffing and change consultation processes.
councils, early childhood and higher education providers,
stakeholders, and interested members of the community.
The feedback will be carefully considered to identify the key
priorities for action, and how we can best use our resources to
deliver better regional services.

                                                                                                               Title of the Section    14
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