Our strategy for public education in South Australia

We aim to ensure South Australia’s public education system can unlock every child’s potential now and in the future.

3 students in school uniform laughing while chatting.

Public education is for every young person in South Australia

Children and students learning and thriving.

Our purpose for public education in South Australia.

Public education is for every child and young person in every community across our state.

Educators and staff work in partnership with families and communities to nurture, develop and empower all South Australian children and young people with the knowledge, skills and capabilities they need to become fulfilled individuals, active, compassionate citizens and lifelong learners.

Our preschools and schools are the heart of local communities.

They are safe, inclusive, and collaborative – a place where every child and young person is encouraged to contribute, develops positive relationships, has a say in their learning, and where their needs, interests, languages and cultures are recognised and supported.

We are relentless in our ambition for all children and young people to enter the world beyond the classroom ready to learn and create opportunities to live a satisfying and fulfilling life of their choosing.

When our children and young people thrive so does South Australia.

Strategy on a page

Our purpose and all the areas of impact, levers for impact, and performance measures on one page.

Read our strategy in full

Download a PDF copy of our purpose and strategy for public education.

How we created
our purpose

To help build a world-leading public education system for
South Australia, we led a statewide conversation, starting with our learners.

We’ve heard from over 10,000 preschoolers and school students across the state, staff, families, the community, and employers.

We also engaged with a range of local, national and international experts.

Their voices were used to create the purpose statement for South Australian public education.

Hear what our preschoolers and public school students had to say

South Australian public school students and preschoolers attended student forums to help decide our purpose and way forward.

Why our purpose is important

Our world is constantly changing and the future we’re educating our children and young people for will be vastly different from today.

Public education needs to continually adapt too.

We intend to stay ahead of these changing demands and support children and young people to learn and thrive as they prepare for their futures beyond the classroom.

We need to be clear about what we’re trying to provide for our students so we can measure whether we’re achieving it.

Chief Executive Martin Westwell discusses how we can shape the future of education in SA (7:39)

Children and students learning and thriving.
3 students with their arms around each others' shoulders, standing in a sunny part of a playground, grinning at the camera.

Areas of impact

Our areas of impact describe what we will prioritise and resource to successfully deliver on our purpose.

A solid evidence base and set of success measures will help us track how we’re going and what we need to focus on to fulfil our purpose.

These areas of impact are all interrelated and are underpinned by a series of domains – the outcomes we’re aiming for.

Discover our areas of impact by interacting with the diagram or scroll down to explore.


Our learners feel safe, included, and valued. They have access to support, experiences, teaching, and resources to build their resilience and social and emotional skills to positively and confidently engage in learning.

Belonging and safety

Learners feel they belong, are culturally safe, and are free to experiment, to raise questions and learn without feeling threatened.

Resilience and persistence

Learners have the capacity to cope with day-to-day challenges and persevere when faced with new or complex learning situations.

Cognitive engagement

Learners have the mental capability to engage actively in learning and feel stretched and challenged.

Check out the useful links or learn about our other areas of impact.

Equity and excellence

We strive for excellence including foundational capabilities such as literacy, numeracy and digital in all learners, by providing varied, challenging, and stimulating experiences.

As well as opportunities that enable all learners to explore and build on their own abilities, interests, culture and experiences. We seek out inequity, eliminate barriers to opportunities and support all students to learn and thrive.

Knowledge, skills, competencies, and capabilities

Learners develop foundational knowledge, capabilities including literacy, numeracy and digital literacy, skills and values. All learners have the opportunity to develop mastery in their chosen areas of interest.

Aboriginal learners

Aboriginal children and young people build on their cultural identity and pride, and develop the knowledge, skills, confidence and resilience needed to achieve their goals and thrive in society.


Learners from all social, cultural, community and family backgrounds, and of all identities and all abilities are able to access and fully participate in learning experiences.

Breaking the link between background and excellence

Our education system helps to overcome barriers to learning and empowers all children and young people.

Check out the useful links or learn about our other areas of impact.

Effective learners

Education must develop children and young people who can learn, not only when they are being taught. At preschool and school and throughout their lives, learners need to develop the skills to be effective learners so that they can make the most of future opportunities and respond to changes in their worlds.


Learners ask questions to ‘get to the bottom of it’ and are less accepting of received wisdom until it is evidenced.


Learners think ‘outside the box’, take chances, use imagination and intuition and are receptive to hunches and inklings.

Meaning making

Learners make connections between past information and/or experiences and new knowledge.

Strategic awareness

Learners know what to do when they don’t know what to do.

Metacognition and self-regulation

Learners who can stop and think about what’s needed to best achieve the task in front of them. Learners are able to understand and manage their behaviour and reactions to their environment.

Check out the useful links or learn about our other areas of impact.

Case studies

Connecting student wellbeing and real-world learning at Seaton High School

Personalised pathways for SACE students at Seaview High School

Learner agency

Our learners are empowered to develop a sense of identity and responsibility as they participate in their preschool and school community and are supported to play a role in shaping their learning experiences.

Voice to agency

Learners have a say and ‘own’ what they learn and how they learn.

Partners in learning

Learners are active partners in their learning, collaborating with both teachers and peers to create a dynamic and engaging educational experience.

Discernment and judgement

Learners are able to make considered decisions about the best ways for them to go about their learning and assessment tasks and what new learning may be necessary for them to be successful.

Case studies

Setting students up through design thinking and learner agency at Stirling North Primary School

Co-created learning and embedded decision making at Prospect North Primary School

Delivering on our purpose

Levers for impact

These 7 key levers will be used to make the most impact across our work.
Our system levers support and enable our people to create the biggest impact for our learners.
Our people are our strongest levers for impact, particularly those working alongside our learners to support their capacity to thrive.

People levers

Effective teaching

To deliver on our purpose, we need to support and empower our educators as they hone their craft, celebrate and showcase their professional identity and support the critical role they play in supporting our learners to thrive.

Effective teaching and learning is our biggest lever in achieving our purpose. Teachers will be supported and empowered to innovate and be at their best to ensure our learners thrive.

Effective teaching looks like:
  • Networks will connect teachers with each other across the system to share their craft and learn from one another.
  • Strong working relationships between our preschools, schools and service supports.
  • Pedagogical learning and assessment expertise will be a focus through professional development and resources.
  • Curriculum and other resources will support teaching and learning.
Empowered leadership

Leadership in our preschools and schools takes many forms. We need our leaders to hold tight to our shared purpose but be flexible to respond to the context of their community. As a system we will support our leaders to collaborate with their communities to lead the learning and change processes aligned to our purpose and principles.

Empowered leadership looks like:
  • Leader networks will work collaboratively across partnerships and sites, with shared tools and resources.
  • A focus on wellbeing will ensure our preschool and school leaders can access professional supports and have the capacity to fulfil their roles.
  • Workload and intensity will be a focus so leaders in our preschools and schools can concentrate on leading for impact in their community.
  • Focused professional learning that best supports preschool and school leaders in the core aspects of their role.
Partnering with families and communities

Public education is of and for our community. Families are a child’s first teacher and developing strong partnerships between preschools, schools and families is crucial. Partnering with cultural and community organisations and employers will help our learners have connected and supported learning opportunities.

Partnering with families and communities looks like:
  • Preschools and schools will foster the connection with their local community, by developing partnerships with cultural and community organisations.
  • Partnerships with industry employers will provide improved career opportunities for our learners and help young people to develop the skills, dispositions and capabilities that support success in the workforce.
  • Families will be involved in goal setting for our learners, as well as celebrating and embracing their experiences and culture as part of the learning process in our schools and preschools.
Engaging with children and young people

Our learners are the most powerful source of intelligence as we consider the biggest impact public education can have in our community. Their input and work in supporting the learning process is critical in how we achieve our purpose.

Engaging children and young people looks like:
  • Working with learners, as agents of change, to better understand their needs will be a driver for our decision making, teaching and learning approaches and measurement.
  • We will activate our learners to ensure the work being done to drive learning co-designed with leaders, and learner development is informed by their context of student needs.

System levers

Strengthening support

Educators understand the needs of their learners and leaders understand their local community. We will continue to work closely with leaders and educators to provide supports that help our learners succeed.

Strengthening supports looks like:
  • Greater recognition and understanding of the role non-teaching staff provide in supporting learners, preschools and schools.
  • Stronger feedback loops and codesign approaches for the department’s preschool and school supports to ensure optimal impact for our learners.
  • More flexible approaches to support the needs of each community.
  • Provision of timely and appropriate support services for learners who may need extra help in the classroom.
Resourcing and investment

Building a world-leading education system requires a considered resourcing and investment program. Our investment will reflect the infrastructure and resourcing for maximum impact in each community.

Resourcing and investment looks like:
  • Investment in developing and sustaining fit for purpose infrastructure where it is most needed to support our ambition for equity and excellence.
  • Leverage school connectivity and digital learning for educators, leaders and learners.
Improvement and responsibility

Preschools and schools need to be able to make informed choices using data and evidence to respond to their learners, community, and context.

Improvement and responsibility looks like:
  • School improvement will include a broader set of measures that recognise the success of the individual preschool or school as well as the areas of potential improvement, based on their own starting point and learners.
  • Preschools and schools will use strategies for improvement that address their chosen areas of impact.
  • Timely data for educators, leaders and staff for planning.

Guiding principles

Our guiding principles describe how we make decisions and approach our work in ways that best use the levers to achieve our areas of impact.

Collective responsibility

We all share responsibility to help our children and young people learn and thrive, and through collaborative effort we will achieve more than the sum of the parts, break down barriers and work together to deliver on our purpose and areas of impact.

This is a great strength of public education.

Learning system

In public education, we learn with and from each other and have the confidence and vulnerability to try new things or change the things we think can be done better.

We will leverage expertise and be open minded to expert referencing.

Praiseworthy failure, through exploration and testing boundaries in the right way, will be embraced – this is how we will continually improve.

Evaluate for impact

In public education we will keep in focus the difference we are making to our learners, through creating a culture that measures for impact using evidence, research and data and by using what we learn to inform our policy and practice at every level of the system.

Tight and flexible

We will be tight on the purpose we have agreed to take responsibility for, and we will be flexible on how it might be best achieved in different contexts.

We must be able to understand what that means for our work and within the preschool and school context and tailor accordingly.

Some areas of impact will need to take priority over others, providing the ability to make a difference based on our context and our starting point.

Trust and verify

We will empower our staff with the autonomy to do great work, without losing sight of the big picture and provide support and structures to make informed decisions to deliver on our purpose.

We will start with the premise that we trust the professional judgement of our educators, staff and leaders.

We recognise that we are accountable to the public for the trust and resources provided to public education, and to our children and young people to keep the promise articulated in our purpose statement.

Measuring our progress

We will use success measures to guide our understanding of how the education system is working and how to adapt our strategy. Many of these measures will be collected in our schools. New and adapted measures will be developed and trialled collaboratively over time.


  • Sense of belonging (WEC)
  • Resilience, distress and persistence (WEC)
  • Attendance (EDSAS/EMS)
  • Engagement (WEC)

Equity and excellence

Learner agency

  • Voice and choice*
  • Motivation and ownership*
  • Purpose and self-efficacy*

* to be developed

Effective learners

  • Learning practices and academic self-concept (WEC)
  • Experience of learning challenges *
  • Perseverance (WEC)
  • Self-regulated learning and metacognition*

* to be developed

Strategy in action

Watch case studies of some of our schools and preschools learning and thriving

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Video transcript and closed captions. #ChristiesBeachPrimarySchool

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Video transcript and closed captions. #Wellbeing #LearnerAgency #PeterboroughCommunityPreschool

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Video transcript. #LearnAndThrive #EducationSouthAustralia

Video transcript and closed captions. #LearnerAgency #EffectiveLearners #EquityAndExcellence

Video transcript and closed captions. #LearnerAgency #EffectiveLearners #EquityAndExcellence

Video transcript and closed captions. #EffectiveLearners #EquityAndExcellence #LearnerAgency

Video transcript and closed captions. #EffectiveLearners #EquityAndExcellence #LearnerAgency

Video transcript and closed captions. #EquityAndExcellence #Wellbeing

Video transcript and closed captions. #EquityAndExcellence #Wellbeing

Video transcript and closed captions. #LearnerAgency #EffectiveLearners #Wellbeing

Video transcript and closed captions. #LearnerAgency #EffectiveLearners #Wellbeing

Video transcript and closed captions. #EffectiveLearners #LearnerAgency #Wellbeing

Video transcript and closed captions. #EffectiveLearners #LearnerAgency #Wellbeing

Video transcript and closed captions. #EquityAndExcellence #Wellbeing #EffectiveLearners

Video transcript and closed captions. #EquityAndExcellence #Wellbeing #EffectiveLearners

Video transcript and closed captions. #LearnerAgency #EffectiveLearners #Wellbeing

Video transcript and closed captions. #LearnerAgency #EffectiveLearners #Wellbeing