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Reflections on 2021: parting words from our CE

7 December 2021

As 2021 comes to a close, I write my last message as registrar/chief executive and reflect on our achievements during another turbulent year.

COVID-19 challenges

COVID was constantly on our minds, and we quickly responded to the July lockdown – working remotely and providing information and support to the education and care sector. We temporarily postponed all site visits but ramped up our tele-monitoring to ensure we kept in touch with education and care services and offered our support where possible.

The borders opening in late November provided an opportunity for family and friends to finally be reunited with their loved ones, but it has also created a level of concern.

We will continue to provide information and respond to your queries as a priority. We will follow the advice of SA Health and make sure our website provides you with links to relevant information.

SA services rating well

I would like to promote our South Australian data. As of 1 December 2021, 97% of education and care services in South Australia have a quality rating, compared to 93% nationally. Additionally, 86% of services in South Australia are rated as Meeting or Exceeding the National Quality Standard. 

This is a fantastic effort and reflects the commitment by the education and care sector to making a positive difference to the lives of South Australian children and young people by providing high-quality early childhood services.

Inspiring excellence among services

In line with our strategic priority of continuing positive engagement with stakeholders, we hosted our first professional development event for early childhood education and care and OSHC sectors in June 2021.

The focus for the day was ‘Inspiring Excellence’. More than 200 educators attended the event either in person or online. The full-day event was developed to support continuous improvement and high-quality education and care and was extremely well received.

Presentations from the event are available to view on our YouTube channel.

Schools meeting Standards

All registered schools must be reviewed at least once in a five-year period. Using our risk-based regulatory approach we conduct validation reviews for a number of government and non-government schools each year. All schools selected for 2021 met the Standards for registration and review of registration. Respondents to our stakeholder survey stated they felt well supported throughout the review process and our staff were approachable and responsive to their queries.

Quiet year for overseas students and exchange

While there has not been much activity in overseas students or student exchange for the past two years, we expect this will commence again in 2022 as the international borders open.

The international education and training sector is vital for South Australia. Every four international student enrolments create one new job, and in 2018–19 international students contributed $1.92 billion to our state’s economy.

Welcome to new CE

As my time with the Education Standards Board comes to an end, I welcome Ms Kerry Leaver as the new chief executive. As well as chief executive, Ms Leaver has been appointed to the three statutory positions of government schools registrar, non-government schools registrar, and early childhood services registrar. She commenced in the role on 6 December 2021.

Merry Christmas

I wish everyone a merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday season, and I wish you continued success for the year ahead.

Chris Chatburn