Department of Education
26 Oct 2023

This is the Digital Program for the 2023 Victorian Education Excellence Awards. Click through the below links to view more details about the VEEA.

Order of Proceedings

Guests arrive

  • Food and beverage service in the Plaza Ballroom
  • Entertainment by Macleod College


Formalities commence

Master of Ceremonies

Dr David Howes

Deputy Secretary, Schools and Regional Services Department of Education

Secretary’s Welcome

Jenny Atta

Secretary, Department of Education

Minister’s Address

Hon Ben Carroll MP

Deputy Premier, Minister for Education and Minister for Medical Research

Presentations — Team Awards

  • Outstanding Inclusive Education Award
  • Outstanding Education Support Team Award
  • Outstanding Koorie Education Award
  • Outstanding Provision for High-Ability Students — Primary Award
  • Outstanding Provision for High-Ability Students — Secondary Award
  • Outstanding School Improvement Award
  • Dr Lawrie Shears Outstanding Global Teaching and Learning Award

Break for meal service

Presentations — Individual Awards

  • Outstanding Early Career Primary Teacher Award
  • Outstanding Early Career Secondary Teacher Award
  • Outstanding Physical Education and Activity Teacher Award
  • Outstanding Business Manager Award
  • Outstanding Primary Teacher Award
  • Outstanding Secondary Teacher Award
  • Outstanding Primary Principal Award
  • Colin Simpson Outstanding Secondary Principal Award

Presentation — Lindsay Thompson Award for Excellence in Education

Formalities conclude

Refreshments and entertainment

Dessert and beverage service in the Plaza Ballroom

Entertainment by Macleod College

Message from the Minister for Education

Message from the Minister for Education

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the 2023 Victorian Education Excellence Awards.

These annual awards, now in their 22nd year, give us the opportunity to shine a much-deserved spotlight on the remarkable work each day in our primary and secondary schools.

I am excited to see that we have 47 outstanding finalists this year who, once again, demonstrate the tremendous breadth of talent and innovation that exists within our public schools.

Tonight, we celebrate the many dedicated teachers and principals who continue to go the extra mile, delivering exceptional learning and wellbeing support to their students.

I am also impressed by the ingenuity and collaborative spirit of our education support staff and business managers, who are so vital to the operation of our schools.

Many of our schools have also made system-wide improvements to ensure every student can thrive, especially students experiencing complex barriers. This means that all members of every school community are supported in a respectful and inclusive way.

I am delighted to see our schools catering for their diverse communities in this way.

It is humbling to see so many highly skilled, energetic, and passionate people doing their very best to deliver a world-class education to their students. Our future is in very good hands with the calibre of professionals being recognised in these awards.

Congratulations to all finalists for your unique achievements and thank you for your ongoing commitment to public education in Victoria.

Hon Ben Carroll MP

Deputy Premier

Minister for Education

Minister for Medical Research

Lindsay Thompson Award for Excellence in Education

The Lindsay Thompson Award for Excellence in Education recognises one of this evening’s category winners whose contribution has been judged to be the most outstanding to Victorian government school.

The winner’s exemplary performance and innovative approach demonstrates exceptional learning and teaching practices, a commitment to positive school culture and sets a prime example of the work that helps make Victoria the Education State.

The Hon. Lindsay H.S. Thompson, AO, CMG


Lindsay Thompson’s career began as a teacher at Malvern Central School (1951–52), followed by the position of Master at Melbourne High School (1953–54), where he was described as ‘a very capable, stimulating teacher’.

At the beginning of 1955 he left the Education Department to commence what was to become a long and distinguished political career spanning three decades.

On 10 May 1967 he succeeded Sir John Bloomfield as Education Minister, a position he held with great distinction for 12 years. In doing so he became, and remains, Victoria’s longest-serving Education Minister. He was Deputy Premier between 1972 and 1981 and Premier between 1981 and 1982.

In addition to Lindsay Thompson’s qualities of integrity, dignity and patience that he brought to his role as Education Minister, he was also a man of vision. His book Looking Ahead in Education, published in 1969, listed some 65 recommendations regarding the future of education in Victoria. By the early 1990s, the majority of these had been implemented.

Team Award Finalists

Team Award Finalists for the Victorian Education Excellence Awards program.

Outstanding Inclusive Education Award

  • Bentleigh West Primary School
  • Riverwalk Primary School
  • Warringa Park School

Outstanding Education Support Team Award

  • Cranbourne Secondary College
  • Mooroopna Park Primary School
  • Tarneit Rise Primary School

Outstanding Koorie Education Award

  • Kurnai College
  • Lilydale District and Yarra Valley Education Plan
  • Swan Hill Specialist School

Outstanding Provision for High-Ability Students — Primary Award

  • Daylesford Primary School
  • Glendal Primary School
  • Lethbridge, Teesdale, Napoleans and Inverleigh Primary Schools
  • Templestowe Park Primary School

Outstanding Provision for High-Ability Students — Secondary Award

  • Balwyn High School
  • Officer Secondary College
  • Templestowe College

Outstanding School Improvement Award

  • Cranbourne Carlisle Primary School
  • Wangaratta West Primary School

Dr Lawrie Shears Outstanding Global Teaching and Learning Award

  • Brentwood Park Primary School
  • Huntingdale Primary School
  • Werribee Secondary College

Individual Award Finalists

Individual Award Finalists for the Victorian Education Excellence Awards program.

Outstanding Early Career Primary Teacher Award

  • Kendall Heycox, Corryong College
  • Emily Leeds, Springside Primary School
  • Meg Wiffen, Moolap Primary School

Outstanding Early Career Secondary Teacher Award

  • Laura Benney, Phoenix P-12 Community College
  • Tanna Hardinge, Lilydale Heights College
  • Alice Hu, Elevation Secondary College

Outstanding Physical Education and Activity Teacher Award

  • Paul Baks, Belle Vue Park Primary School
  • Morgan Belbruno, Ardeer South Primary School
  • Ellen Newton, Hampton Park Secondary College

Outstanding Business Manager Award

  • Peter Cameron, Wantirna College
  • Kathrine Rix, Homestead Senior Secondary
  • Sharon Veale, Warringa Park School

Outstanding Primary Teacher Award

  • Ruth Chambers, Wonthaggi Primary School
  • Lauren Jeffery, Mooroopna Park Primary School
  • Ashlee Smith, Canterbury Primary School

Outstanding Secondary Teacher Award

  • Elizabeth Ferguson, Pascoe Vale Girls College
  • Tijtje Keatley, Mount Waverley Secondary
  • Ben Russell, Richmond High School
  • Andrew Vella, Sunbury and Macedon Ranges
    Specialist School

Outstanding Primary Principal Award

  • Julie Gilbert, Croydon Primary School
  • Clare Monk, Warrnambool West Primary
  • Kristy Mullins, Wangaratta West Primary School

Colin Simpson Outstanding Secondary Principal Award

  • Elaine Hazim, Victoria University Secondary
  • Sheereen Kindler, Glen Eira College
  • Keith Perry, Kambrya College
  • Kimberley Tempest, Cobram Secondary College

Outstanding Inclusive Education Award Finalists

Outstanding Inclusive Education Award Finalists for the Victorian Education Excellence Awards program

Warringa Park School

Warringa Park School’s vision of an ‘excellent education for every student’ has been integral in building an inclusive learning culture and a caring community for its students.

Every learning space at the school is differentiated and personalised, and strength-based instruction is delivered flexibly, with technology readily available to engage students in their learning. Working closely with a range of National Disability Insurance Scheme providers, the school’s leadership team has initiated multiple events where families are connecting to services and learning.

Partnerships with Victoria University, Foundation House, and 2 mainstream schools have together provided adapted physical education lessons to students with additional needs, facilitated afterschool activities and social support for refugee students and their families, and provided access to electives and hands-on learning for their students.

Ensuring families have wrap-around support, Warringa Park’s collaborative partnerships with community are resulting in greater opportunities for all their students to access the care, support, and education they need to thrive at school.

Riverwalk Primary School

A newly-established supported inclusion school, Riverwalk Primary School is designed to support a higher number of students with disability than a mainstream school.

Delivering inclusive education with an informed and collaborative approach to every child, the school treats each student as a unique individual.

Establishing a school culture where students and families are key stakeholders in a student support-focused consultation process, the school’s Learning and Wellbeing Team is changing the way students and their families are engaging with education. Determining each student’s short and long-term educational goals as an extended group, appropriate adjustments and supports are explored to best support a student’s specific learning and wellbeing needs.

The Learning and Wellbeing team has been instrumental in implementing the new Disability Inclusion reforms. Carefully evaluating each student’s Individual Education Plan within this collaborative student support-group structure, they are building and sharing professional knowledge and increasing community understanding of Disability Inclusion.

Bentleigh West Primary School

At Bentleigh West Primary School, students are encouraged, celebrated, and empowered by their differences. Inclusive practices are embedded in the school’s culture, with strong systems and structures in place to support the team around the learner.

A strong focus on Universal Design for Learning combined with the adoption of a whole-school approach to implementing the Response To Intervention model, has created a systemic transformation at the school. In combining evidence-based practices and policies with an emphasis on student wellbeing, the school is experiencing strong growth in student achievement.

The school also participates as a Disability Inclusion lighthouse school and has been instrumental in supporting local and regional schools to successfully implement recent system-wide reforms.

Described as a school that goes ‘above and beyond’ to support students with disability, Bentleigh West Primary School’s openness to new initiatives and system-wide collaboration is supporting outstanding outcomes for their students.

Outstanding Education Support Team Award Finalists

Outstanding Education Support Team Award Finalists for the Victorian Education Excellence Awards program.

Tarneit Rise Primary School

The Tarneit Rise Primary School community has grown rapidly in a short period of time.

Opening in 2018 with 209 children, they have nearly 1800 students enrolled today. The growing school community is diverse and multicultural, with 78% of children speaking a language other than English at home.

The Education Support Team of over 50 multiskilled professionals work to significantly reduce students’ barriers to learning. Delivering education support in 3 distinct professional learning communities (PLC): the Inclusion Aide PLC, Intervention PLC, and Wellbeing PLC, the team is supporting the achievement of individual students’ learning and wellbeing needs, both in the classroom and outside it.

Whether working with students with disability or additional needs, supporting literacy and language development or working with families and allied health practitioners to ensure the needs of students are met, the innovatively structured Education Support Team is helping all children to fully participate in school.

Mooroopna Park Primary School

Mooroopna Park Primary School’s Wellbeing Team is working with its wider community to improve outcomes for students and their families.

Implemented by a wellbeing coordinator, speech therapist and a chaplain, the team delivers an Oral Language Program and speech pathologist support, a fortnightly paediatric clinic, a Healthy Food Program, access to a play therapist, Chaplain support, and dental, vision, and hearing checks for all students.

With Community Hubs Australia, a Community Hub was established by the team during the recent floods, where families from the local area could come to collect food, toys, bedding, and clothes donated by the community.

Mooroopna Park’s inclusive health and wellbeing programs have seen profound improvement in attendance, behaviour, and learning outcomes. Working with the community in new ways, the Wellbeing Team is creating services, access, and opportunity for students and their families to fully engage with education.

Cranbourne Secondary College

Cranbourne Secondary College’s multidisciplinary Student Wellbeing Team is expanding and innovating programs to support a growing cohort of students with additional needs as learners.

Using a Multi-Tiered System of Supports model, the Wellbeing Team is addressing the needs and goals of the students with a rigorous adherence to best practice, process, and policy. The team of clinical practitioners draw from different therapeutic modalities while maintaining an evidence-based overview to know more accurately, the specific needs of all students.

Working adaptively to the individual and changing needs of their growing student cohort, the team’s practitioners largely work in a 1:1 capacity with young learners. Initiating improved self-referral processes for students, they are also helping their students to better understand their own wellbeing needs and to confidently seek the support they need.

Generating new responses to student need, the team’s outstanding professionalism is changing outcomes for some of the college’s most vulnerable students.

Outstanding Koorie Education Award Finalists

Outstanding Koorie Education Award Finalists for the Victorian Education Excellence Awards program.

Swan Hill Specialist School

The School Inclusion Team at Swan Hill Specialist School has embarked on a significant journey to acknowledge and represent local Wemba Wemba culture at the school.

Seeking opportunities to learn from Koorie leaders, staff at every level of the school have undertaken professional learning to improve their Koorie understanding and capability.

Creating many visual representations and acknowledgments of Koorie culture and perspectives at the school in partnership with the Wemba Wemba community, the inclusion team is working to create a culturally safe and inclusive environment for their Koorie students.

For each Koorie student at the school, the ways in which they can successfully learn and participate in education are respected as both an individual and from a cultural perspective.

Individual education planning and increased cultural representation and acknowledgement at the school is empowering Koorie students to succeed in their learning journeys and to celebrate their culture and identity.

Lilydale District and Yarra Valley Education Plan

The 6 schools of the Lilydale District and Yarra Valley Education Plan (Plan) have created a Collaborative Indigenous Strategy (Strategy) that is changing the lives and outcomes of Koorie students.

Collectively creating an educational environment where cultural safety, empowerment, and connection to cultural identity is an everyday experience for Koorie students, the Plan is working to create systemic change across the area.

Fulfilling the aspirations of the Strategy, the Plan is facilitating students’ access to Koorie leaders and mentors in support of students’ cultural and career aspirations. The Plan’s initiative in appointing a First Nations Advocate role at each school has now led to an advocate (a Murrung Lead) being embedded in every primary and secondary school in the Outer East Area — encompassing 150 schools.

The Plan is realising life-changing representation and opportunity for Koorie students, who are empowered to confidently celebrate their culture and identity at school.

Kurnai College

In 2022 Kurnai College identified a need to address Koorie students’ cultural safety in ways that could grow student’s confidence in their identity as Koorie people.

Forming relationships with the local Gunaikurnai community, service providers and support agencies, the Koorie Team has initiated many different ways to create positive systemic change for Koorie students and their families, and for all students at the College.

In 2023, a documentary (Stop, Rewind, Play) was produced in association with Kurnai College and featuring many Koorie students, members of the Koorie Team, community Elders and student mentors. The documentary was produced as a study guide that addresses the harms caused by racism, bullying and lack of cultural awareness, and how these can be changed through education.

Early adopters of department initiatives such as Campfire Conversations and Cultural Understanding and Safety Training, the Koorie Team is helping to increase the cultural safety and confidence in identity of Koorie students.

Outstanding Provision for High-Ability Students — Primary Award Finalists

Outstanding Provision for High-Ability Students — Primary Award Finalists for the Victorian Education Excellence Awards program.

Daylesford Primary School

Creating an aspirational culture for all students, Daylesford Primary School is nurturing children’s potential with an inquiry-led approach that is enriching their curriculum and community.

Accessing professional learning and support from the high-ability toolkit and the High-Ability Practice Leader role, the school is creating opportunity and access for high-ability learners in inquiry-based extension programs that are inspiring children of high-ability to experience learning in new ways.

Connecting with programs from the Victorian Challenge and Enrichment Series and Victorian High-Ability Program, students interact with the local community and wider education network in student-led projects and initiatives. Collaborative learning and outstanding classroom practice has strengthened the school’s emphasis on individual goal setting and student agency, increasing highability achievement outcomes across the school.

Partnering with the University of New England, the school has worked closely with the university to video document their exemplary high-ability provision for inclusion in the department’s updated high-ability toolkit.

Glendal Primary School

The leadership team at Glendal Primary School are extending their students’ social, emotional, and intellectual growth by providing a challenging curriculum for all their high-ability students.

The highly differentiated curriculum places strong emphasis on developing students’ literacy and numeracy through engagement with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). A specialist science program extends student learning well into secondary school curriculum levels and subjects including engineering, chemical and electrical science.

Glendal Primary School has achieved great success through their STEM program, particularly in Robotics, with students’ succeeding annually in local, state, and national robotics competitions. Working and learning collaboratively with digital technology is facilitating students to achieve and be taught at higher levels.

Highly regarded across the community and region for their high-ability extension programs, classroom differentiation and application of the Victorian High Ability Program, the team at Glendal Primary School are providing leadership and professional learning to others across a wide network of schools.

Lethbridge, Teesdale, Napoleans and Inverleigh Primary Schools

Working collaboratively, a group of leaders from across Lethbridge, Teesdale, Napoleans and Inverleigh Primary Schools have successfully developed an innovative, crossschool learning system to support high-ability learners in the Central Highlands Area of the south-west Victoria region.

In 2022, a targeted online, high-ability mathematics program was developed by the team. Delivered through a common instructional model, the program is designed to lift students who are on the cusp of attainment into the top two National Assessment — Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) bands of achievement in numeracy.

The exemplary cross-school enrichment program has facilitated high-ability students, who have just missed out on the statewide Victorian High-Ability Program, to access high-quality teaching practice and to challenge their learning in collaboration with other high-ability students from across the four schools.

Working in small groups, students are empowered to solve problems, confidently share strategies, and celebrate their learning growth and achievements.

Templestowe Park Primary School

Templestowe Park Primary School is dedicated to providing an opportunity-rich learning environment for their high-ability students, with a specific focus on Mathematics.

The school has a whole-school teaching and learning model that focuses on both learning and wellbeing to ensure their students feel safe, respected, and empowered to learn. Challenging learning opportunities support high-ability students to reach their full potential.

The school’s Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program is undertaken in a specially designed learning environment to provide practice-based learning experiences for students in areas such as robotics. High-ability STEM students also attend the John Monash Science School Mini Mathematicians and Big Science, Little Scientists program.

The school has been a Maths Active Victoria school member since 2017. Data-based Maths Extension classes are balanced by external learning opportunities such as Maths Talent Quest, Maths Games and Olympiad and the Melbourne University Maths Challenge, which extend high-ability students through challenge in dynamic social environments.

Outstanding Provision for High-Ability Students — Secondary Award Finalists

Outstanding Provision for High-Ability Students — Secondary Award Finalists for the Victorian Education Excellence Awards program.

Balwyn High School

Balwyn High School offers a comprehensive High-Ability Learning Program that is available to all enrolled students at the school.

The school’s Learning and Teaching Team developed the high-ability program to differentiate for all students, whatever their level of learning, significantly extending students’ learning capability and access to high-ability learning at the school.

Students are empowered to build their own decision-making capability from their entry at Year 7.

Targeted strategies and learning opportunities developed by the team are extending high-ability learners across individual classes, and through self-directed research tasks and competitions.

Advanced level extension subjects and the dedicated Selected Entry Accelerated Learning program are offered alongside co-curricular programs, including the school’s music, debating and sports programs, and a Maths Games Day run by the Mathematical Association of Victoria.

The school’s inclusive high-ability provision is resulting in student outcomes and levels of achievement consistently amongst the highest for Victorian open-entry public schools.

Officer Secondary College

Staff at Officer Secondary College strongly believe that their role is to extend their high-ability students’ achievement, knowledge, and capacity for learning.

Over 2022 and 2023 the college designed and implemented a High Achiever Program that would extend their highest achieving students in innovative growth-focused programs. A dramatic improvement in students’ learning, behavioural and attendance outcomes has resulted.

As a means of extending growth opportunities to those students identified as high-ability students but not enrolled in the High Achievers Program, the Academic Champions Program was implemented as a growth-coaching initiative. Members of the leadership team mentor students to determine their own learning goals and to self-monitor their progress.

Whether implementing mentor support, rewriting the mathematics curriculum to facilitate students’ ability to better retrieve and apply numerical content, or initiating Flipped Learning Student Voice Courses for their Year 9 high-ability students, Officer Secondary College is supporting their students to extend and accelerate their learning.

Templestowe College

At Templestowe College, high-ability students select subjects aligned with the Victorian Curriculum but follow a staged, rather than age-based, learning pathway.

Developmental rubrics are used to provide students’ with formative feedback on a wide range of measures, unrestricted by year level. This enables high-ability students to experience a greater degree of engagement as they are able to study at their own level across all areas of the college.

Templestowe College’s emphasis on project or product-based learning ensures that students’ projects are always linked with clients, businesses, or organisations external to the college. High-ability students are provided with programs and initiatives that support individuals to apply their learning, including virtual study groups, entrepreneurship and leadership programs, and a student employability skills program.

Through their challenging Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) program, students regularly compete at World Championship level within Robotics, with their National Championship winning teams representing Australia at the 2023 VEX Robotics World Championships.

Outstanding School Improvement Award Finalists

Outstanding School Improvement Award Finalists for the Victorian Education Excellence Awards program.

Cranbourne Carlisle Primary School

With 60% of students speaking a language other than English at home, Cranbourne Carlisle Primary School’s new leadership team engaged their diverse community with the shared aspiration of improving children’s learning and wellbeing outcomes.

A positive focus on school improvement was implemented to prioritise student learning and the engagement of families in building a more inclusive, multicultural school community.

The leadership team established the Carlisle Community Group as a platform for families to become more involved in school life. With the implementation of a Framework for Improving Student Outcomes 2.0 improvement cycle, teachers and leaders improved their data literacy and led evidence-based school improvement centred on knowing all students and their families well.

Multicultural Education Aides now work with families, offering English support to isolated parents. Regular Cultural Connections Days celebrate the multicultural diversity of the school community.

In 2022, school data at every level has improved dramatically, building new confidence and community between staff, students, and parents.

Wangaratta West Primary School

Working together over several years to develop into a high-performing school improvement team, the leadership team at Wangaratta West Primary School has led an inclusive process of deep renewal at the school.

Working collaboratively with staff and their professional learning community, the team co-created new learning materials, practices, and processes. The team’s implementation of a Schoolwide Positive Behaviour Support framework has significantly improved the wellbeing of staff and students and is ensuring a calm and inclusive learning environment.

To strengthen the school’s culturally inclusive practices, leadership recruited a Wellbeing team and established the student Mundgee Group as a platform to promote and celebrate Koorie culture as a school.

The leadership team have a shared commitment to realising the school’s vision of ‘developing learners for life who care for themselves, others and their environment’.

Data shows clear evidence of significant improvement in attitudes and student outcomes at the school.

Dr Lawrie Shears Outstanding Global Teaching and Learning Award Finalists

Dr Lawrie Shears Outstanding Global Teaching and Learning Award Finalists for the Victorian Education Excellence Awards program.

Huntingdale Primary School

Huntingdale Primary School is a global leader in bilingual education which is influencing and improving language learning and global education across the government school system.

The primary school’s Japanese Bilingual Language Immersion Education program, where the Victorian Curriculum is delivered equally in both Japanese and English, is cited internationally as an exemplar of sustained school-level bilingual provision.

Huntingdale’s inclusive approach integrates students’ diverse home languages into the content and delivery of the bilingual curriculum while contributing to the international advancement of innovative models of schooling, relevant to changing global contexts for student learning.

Most recently, Huntingdale Primary School partnered with the Australia-Japan Foundation through The University of Melbourne to develop new research into culture in bilingual contexts.

Developing and sustaining international partnerships and collaborating with local stakeholders, Huntingdale Primary School is empowering their students to become global citizens who understand their impact on the world and value the culture, language, and stories of all.

Werribee Secondary College

Werribee Secondary College welcomes students from over 50 nationalities and international students from 11 different countries.

Throughout 2022-23, the college engaged in extensive reflection through the Council of International Schools re-accreditation process for their International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, reassessing how to best create a learning environment that truly fosters global citizenship and intercultural learning.

For staff and students, global citizenship means empowered and empathetic students who demonstrate an appreciation of cultural diversity and take an active interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and global issues and perspectives. Intercultural learning occurs when increased knowledge and skills support the ability of students to interact meaningfully with people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Collaboratively renewing their curriculum, the College has built more active partnerships with the local Bunurong people, the Aboriginal Wellness Foundation, and global learning partners. Initiating multiple global citizen-focused learning opportunities, they are renewing their intercultural and global priorities through the lessons and language of every classroom.

Brentwood Park Primary School

Brentwood Park Primary School’s innovative development of global education initiatives are providing local and international learning experiences that are building the intercultural capability of its staff and students.

With nearly a thousand students and over 35 languages spoken, and more than half the students speaking a language other than English, Brentwood Park Primary School is committed to improving global learning and engagement for their students.

Learning through engagement with their global peers, the school’s many initiatives include an Intercultural Capability Curriculum, a Chinese Language and Culture and Asia-literacy program, a Building Global Citizenship Program, the Sister School Partnership Program, teacher exchanges and local professional partnerships.

A whole-school approach to global learning and engagement has realised outstanding excellence and equity outcomes for their students. Positive outcomes on every measure, including engagement, capability, and learning achievement, testify to Brentwood Park Primary School’s success in establishing meaningful global connections and ensuring students’ intercultural learning can be enacted everyday.

Outstanding Early Career Primary Teacher Award Finalists

Outstanding Early Career Primary Teacher Award Finalists for the Victorian Education Excellence Awards program.

Kendall Heycox, Corryong College

Since starting with Corryong College in 2022 as a graduate teacher, Kendall Heycox quickly demonstrated her capacity for leadership and her aptitude as an educator.

In 2022, the rural community of Corryong had been significantly impacted by bushfires and the remote learning periods of recent years. Kendall’s calm and conscientious approach to all aspects of her work as a teacher, and her willingness to shoulder responsibility while capably implementing quality learning, was a great support to the small school community.

Leading a number of improvement initiatives at the P-12 college, including the Writing Professional Learning Community, Kendall is working with her colleagues to enact literacy improvements and apply her own and others’ professional learning to benefit students throughout the school.

Already, Kendall has measurably improved student outcomes in her own classroom where students are showing marked growth in their learning and wellbeing, and building a positive, aspirational culture in her college community.

Meg Wiffen, Moolap Primary School

Meg Wiffen is an outstanding graduate teacher who runs a classroom of highly engaged and motivated students who know what they are learning and how they are learning.

Always striving to build her capability as a teacher, Meg undertakes professional learning and seeks professional discussions with her colleagues to gain deeper insight into how students learn best. Often driving conversations in professional learning community meetings at the primary school, she is open and honest about her learning experience and asks thoughtful questions that prompt meaningful discussions between peers.

Meg’s drive to evolve her teaching practice to be the best it can be is demonstrated by her ability to reflect, to plan and to effectively teach different levels of learners in her classroom, no matter what their curriculum area.

Knowing where her students are as learners guides her careful differentiation of lessons to effectively meet the needs of all of her students.

Emily Leeds, Springside Primary School

Arriving at the school in 2021 as a graduate teacher, Emily Leeds immediately demonstrated her aptitude for educational leadership during an extended period of remote learning.

Arriving at the school in 2021 as a graduate teacher, Emily Leeds immediately demonstrated her aptitude for educational leadership during an extended period of remote learning.

Quickly identifying her students’ diverse needs, Emily applied her instructional leadership skills to teaching literacy and developing evidence-based improvement plans tailored to meet the specific learning needs of each student.

Structured literacy is a research-based approach that Emily uses to teach reading, writing, and spelling skills systematically and explicitly. Incorporating phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension instruction into her daily lessons, Emily provides explicit instruction to ensure that her students have a strong foundation in literacy.

Emily’s early commitment to applying her evidence-based teaching methods and research now guides the staff team in their data-driven decision-making. As the leader of the Prep Professional Learning Community and the Student Achievement Leader, Emily is already playing a pivotal role in facilitating professional development at the school.

Outstanding Early Career Secondary Teacher Award Finalists

Outstanding Early Career Secondary Teacher Award Finalists for the Victorian Education Excellence Awards program.

Tanna Hardinge, formerly of Lilydale Heights College

During her time at Lilydale Heights College, Tanna Hardinge’s knowledge and passion for educating others, especially in the role of First Nations advocate, has transformed the college’s culture.

Creating new opportunities and curriculum, her initiatives are already resulting in positive learning outcomes for both students and teachers.

Outstanding in her ability to promote Koorie cultures, she has elevated Koorie perspectives and presence across the college community and curriculum. Tanna’s leadership of Mob Monday, Campfire Conversations, and collaborations with organisations such as Yarra Ranges Technical School and ‘DeadlyScience’, are ensuring that the College is a welcoming and safe place of learning where Koorie students have a voice and belong.

Inspired by her own experience, Tanna has developed curriculum and led professional development for staff who embedded their learning throughout the whole-school curriculum. Her inclusive approach has significantly improved students’ learning and wellbeing outcomes and increased enrolments of Koorie students to the college.

Laura Benney, Phoenix P-12 Community College

Since taking on a full-time educator’s role at Phoenix P-12 College in 2022, Laura Benney has demonstrated her passion for teaching and learning by expertly performing leadership roles and responsibilities.

In performing the roles of Transition Coordinator for the secondary college, and coordinating both the Debating and Public Speaking Program and the Academic Achievers Program, Laura demonstrates her belief in nurturing the whole child from their point of need.

Laura’s informed application of data to renew practice and programs, her engagement with professional learning and her consultative approach with staff, students, and parents, is exemplary. Her expertise at teaching Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) level has led to improved student outcomes in English, Psychology and History.

Whether applying her skills to the coordination and planning of programs, extra-curricular initiatives or classroom lessons, Laura’s example as an early career educator provides a positive role model for students and staff at the college.

Alice Hu, Elevation Secondary College

Before coming to Elevation Secondary College, Alice Hu participated in several national and international programs aimed at improving women’s access to STEM subjects, particularly mathematics.

Despite mathematics being a subject that students can find challenging, graduate teacher Alice has built positive and high-achieving classroom environments with her passion for evidence-based teaching practice. Applying her mathematics expertise with a differentiated teaching approach, Alice is helping her students to recognise and celebrate their progress towards individual learning goals.

Alice’s determination to deliver fully differentiated mathematics learning for students of every ability has significantly increased student engagement and outcomes at the college.

Engaging the Mathematics Department at The University of Melbourne to run logic and career inspiration workshops at the school, Alice worked with teachers to identify mathematics potential in female students. Over 40 students attended the voluntary workshops, with Years 7-9 girls now demonstrating higher ‘mastery’ levels.

Outstanding Physical Education and Activity Teacher Award Finalists

Outstanding Physical Education and Activity Teacher Award Finalists for the Victorian Education Excellence Awards program.

Morgan Belbruno, Ardeer South Primary School

As Physical Education teacher at Ardeer South Primary School, Morgan Belbruno believes that quality physical education is best delivered with a whole-school approach that ensures all students can be active in multiple ways and settings.

Ardeer South Primary School is one of 96 schools to receive an Active Schools grant, an initiative aimed to give Victorian children the skills, confidence, and motivation to be active for life. Morgan’s outstanding contribution in securing funding for the grant (for two years running) is supporting a range of additional targeted opportunities for students and the community.

Driven by his vision to improve students’ engagement and enjoyment of physical education, Morgan strongly promotes participation over performance.

With initiatives such as engaging students and families in Brimbank’s ‘learn to ride’ biking program and the improvement of the school’s recreational and sport facilities, Morgan is increasing community participation, access and sporting opportunity for students and their families.

Ellen Newton, Hampton Park Secondary College

Ellen Newton’s inspirational leadership of the Health and Physical Education department at Hampton Park Secondary College is ensuring that students’ learning and wellbeing outcomes are valued equally.

Demonstrating the highest standards in curriculum development, teaching practice and assessment, her engagement with students’ learning and wellbeing through their physical education is extending teachers’ understanding and capability across the college.

Successful in attaining a 2023 Active Schools Grant for the college, Ellen has also built strong connections with organisations and partners to ensure that all students can access the learning and facilities they need to be safe, both at school and in the community.

Ensuring her students’ have every opportunity to succeed, Ellen is building scaffolded resources and providing opportunities for her students to take active responsibility in their learning.

Whether teaching or leading professional development on how to measure and celebrate student wellbeing and learning achievement holistically, Ellen is leading by example.

Paul Baks, Belle Vue Park Primary School

Nearly half of Belle Vue Park Primary School students speak a language other than English at home, with many refugee families having to negotiate the challenges of being new members of the community and school.

Noticing the low physical education participation rates of his female students, Paul Baks placed a particular emphasis on ensuring his physical education program was inclusive, non-competitive, and engaging for young female students from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Convinced that physical activity in young girls can help build social confidence, positive body image and overall health, Paul worked closely with Netball Victoria and local community agencies such as the Darebin Netball Association, to form a netball team. Seeking further support from local business to sponsor uniforms, Paul has helped to establish the skills and confidence of the girls as a team.

With the encouragement of their families, Paul is expanding this initiative and transforming the outcomes of young people in his community.

Outstanding Business Manager Award Finalists

Outstanding Business Manager Award Finalists for the Victorian Education Excellence Awards program.

Kathrine Rix, Homestead Senior Secondary College

Kathrine Rix believes that students should not face disadvantage at school and that their only task at the college is to learn to the best of their ability.

Business manager at Homestead Senior Secondary College since its inception in 2020, Kathrine has been instrumental in ensuring the college’s growing student success stems from this principle. Kathrine has prioritised care for students at every level through her contributions to the new college’s policies, infrastructure and organisational culture.

Impacted by the recent pandemic, many students and their families have needed extra and increased individual support. Kathrine applied her resourceful business management skills to secure several external grants that have increased opportunity and access for all students, and particularly those with additional needs.

Initiating a well-respected school lunches program through equity funding, Kathrine is also ensuring that all Homestead students have the nourishment they need to learn at school.

Sharon Veale, Warringa Park School

Warringa Park School is among the largest multi-campus special needs schools in Australia. As the special school’s long-standing business manager, Sharon Veale has overseen the school’s growth from 1 to 4 campuses and accommodated increases in enrolments from 190 to 740 students.

Sharon’s engagement with department initiatives and systems have supported the growing school community to achieve positive student outcomes. Consistently seeking her own professional development, she successfully extends her knowledge and experience to the mentoring of her own extensive administration and Human Resources team, building their capacity and confidence.

Leading with encouragement and care in her own school, Sharon is also a member of the Business Managers Association, Business Managers Wyndham Network, and the Multi-campus Schools Network in Victoria. A mentor to newly appointed business managers in special school settings, Sharon is sharing her knowledge to nurture good business management practice at every level of the sector.

Peter Cameron, Wantirna College

Peter Cameron was so committed to the vision of Wantirna College as a parent, that he joined the staff as business manager to dedicate his skills to improving student outcomes.

A Certified Practicing Accountant with a background in the corporate world, Peter looked upon the role of business manager at Wantirna College with a new lens. Well-placed to take on the challenge of becoming business manager at a college of 160 staff and 1400 students, Peter’s expertise and enjoyment of his new role is having a positive influence on staff, students, and the wider community.

Transforming the customer service of the school and improving the way budgets and resources are managed, his focus on building the capacity of those around him is empowering others to excel.

Introducing new administration practices and refining systems, Peter’s skills have greatly improved the school’s finance and resource management and led to benefits for students, staff, and parents.

Outstanding Primary Teacher Award Finalists

Outstanding Primary Teacher Award Finalists for the Victorian Education Excellence Awards program.

Ruth Chambers, Wonthaggi Primary School

Ruth Chambers’ long-standing commitment to the musical and cultural education of children at Wonthaggi Primary School is made stronger by incorporating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives.

Ruth has developed programs of song and dance that bring Wonthaggi Primary School together to work alongside Senior Boon Wurrung Elder, Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir. Ruth brings in music, language, and games from the Boon Wurrung community. Ruth’s work is joyous, with other teachers keen to learn from the programs that she has developed with students.

Modelling best practice in cultural awareness, Ruth’s approach is enriched by her lived experience of working in Aboriginal communities. Initiating and now leading the Cultural Awareness team, Ruth is supporting staff to embed their knowledge of Koorie perspectives within their classrooms and daily practices.

Ruth’s musical and cultural leadership has created a celebratory engagement with Koorie knowledge at the school that is bringing great joy and new awareness to staff, students, and their families.

Lauren Jeffery, Mooroopna Park Primary School

Since Lauren Jeffery joined Mooroopna Park Primary School in 2022 as their Foundation teacher, the school has seen its highest growth in reading and writing skills for Foundation students.

Implementing well-documented evidence-based and play-based teaching practices in her classroom, Lauren is providing students with opportunities for hands-on numeracy and literacy learning that is building their confidence, fluency, and oral language skills.

Dedicated to teaching literacy to children, Lauren has applied her extensive experience and expert knowledge to mentor staff, provide professional development and lead the implementation of an evidence-based approach to literacy that is positively transforming the school’s instructional model, planning documents and assessment tools.

Working with experienced teachers, new techniques and resources, Lauren’s passion for improving literacy is guiding a whole-school improvement of the ways children learn at the school.

Ashlee Smith, Canterbury Primary School

A highly accomplished educational leader, Ashlee Smith is dedicated to improving confidence and achievement in the learning and teaching of mathematics.

In her dual roles of Learning Specialist and Numeracy Leader at Canterbury Primary School, Ashlee has brought cutting-edge methods, expertise, and leadership that is ensuring the growing success of the school’s numeracy program.

Ashlee’s commitment to student learning is evident through her innovative application of data, current mathematics research, and best practice. Generously sharing her knowledge and expertise, she is fostering a culture of improvement and collaboration among staff that has led to significant improvements in teachers’ mathematics confidence, instructional techniques, and most importantly, school-wide student numeracy outcomes.

Recently, Ashlee’s positive impact on numeracy learning at the school has been extended to system-wide improvement, including her leading of a local mathematics Community of Practice and receiving an invitation to present her work at the 2023 Government Schools Principals Conference.

Outstanding Secondary Teacher Award Finalists

Outstanding Secondary Teacher Award Finalists for the Victorian Education Excellence Awards program.

Elizabeth Ferguson, Pascoe Vale Girls College

Elizabeth Ferguson’s deep knowledge about the interrelatedness of wellbeing and learning has guided her outstanding contribution to the improvement journey of Pascoe Vale Girls College.

In her 3 years at the college, Elizabeth’s educational leadership as the Positive Climate for Learning teacher has united staff through evidence-based practice and programs that are amplifying girls’ voice, agency, and leadership in their learning.

Leading the school’s implementation of many department initiatives including school-wide positive behaviour support, Amplify and a sequenced Social and Emotional Learning program, Elizabeth’s commitment to fostering equity, excellence and learner agency has resulted in strong improvements in students’ wellbeing and learning outcomes.

Introducing Sociology as a Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) subject, Elizabeth’s class achieved a VCE median study score of 30.78 and several 37+ study scores. Elizabeth is now developing the VCE subject for delivery to 3 other schools in the Merribek North Education Plan.

Ben Russell, Richmond High School

Widely respected by his students and peers, Ben Russell is a classroom teacher and educational leader at Richmond High School.

Dedicated to learning how to work with all young people and their teachers in his role as Year 12 Coordinator, Ben’s high expectations and commitment to improving his own teaching and leadership has built positive relationships with staff and students.

As an educational leader, Ben enables his professional community to make the very best choices for their students through evidence-focused inquiry and learning.

Fostering the voice, agency and leadership of his students, Ben’s impressive impact on his students’ wellbeing and learning outcomes reflects his ability to engage students in their learning in ways that empower their choices and responsibility. In Ben’s classes, his students develop a deep understanding of what is expected of them.

Through his multiple leadership and teaching roles, Ben’s dedication to improving students’ engagement with education has inspired learning and teaching excellence at Richmond High School.

Andrew Vella, Sunbury and Macedon Ranges Specialist School

Andrew Vella is an outstanding teacher and the Wellbeing Learning Specialist at Sunbury and Macedon Ranges Specialist School.

Leading the whole school in creating a positive and respectful learning environment for students with disability, Andrew’s exceptional contribution to shaping specialist education provision is improving the future of students and their families in the region.

A measured and compassionate teacher, Andrew meets his student’s needs by lifting their individual education outcomes and enabling each young person to develop their inner confidence, independence, and bodily autonomy. In leading the development of a relevant curriculum for the school’s cohort of students with intellectual disability, Andrew has embedded the department’s Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships learning materials into the content and experience of students’ learning.

Ensuring educational provision for students is accessible, and meaningful, Andrew is extending his expertise to colleagues within and beyond the school’s networks.

Tijtje Keatley, Mount Waverley Secondary College

Director of Music at Mount Waverley Secondary College, Tijtje Keatley has delivered innovative music education at the college since 2014. Since that time, the number of students in her music programs has doubled and the college has one of the largest music departments in Victoria’s north-east region.

Tijtje’s inclusive approach to building a contemporary music curriculum and learning culture is shaped by high expectations of her students, the desire to support their differentiated learning needs, and to nurture their shared love of music.

Encouraging the live performance of music at school productions, public events, and music festivals, Tijtje has mentored and supported students to participate in a range of local and national programs and competitions that have built her students’ confidence, skill, and experience.

Increasing ensemble sizes and the outstanding achievements of her Year 12 Music Performance students provide testament to her dedication to nurturing student’s agency and wellbeing through music education.

Outstanding Primary Principal Award Finalists

Outstanding Primary Principal Award Finalists for the Victorian Education Excellence Awards program.

Julie Gilbert, Croydon Primary School

As principal of the multicultural community of Croydon Primary School, Julie Gilbert has consistently worked to create structures, attitudes and expectations that enable students and their families to feel culturally safe and valued.

Building a positive school culture over many years, Julie has fostered a resilient and respectful learning and wellbeing framework for students, ensuring that they have the support and facilities they need to flourish at school.

Generating such a framework has meant extending support to the diverse community of parents and stakeholders. Recruitment of Burmese staff has strengthened ties with refugee families and the inclusion of Koorie Elders in children’s learning, as well as dedicated support for students with a disability and their families, has created an exceptional degree of trust in the community.

Julie’s focus on supporting all students and their families has been complemented by her oversight of the extensive modernisation of the school’s infrastructure, ensuring a secure and fit-for purpose future for her school community.

Clare Monk, Warrnambool West Primary School

Clare Monk’s leadership of Warrnambool West Primary School has transformed a school into a vibrant and successful environment for children’s learning.

As the principal of the school since 2018, Clare has guided exemplary school improvement, evidenced by sustained improvements in student and staff data reflecting great improvement in staff’s attitudes and in students’ learning outcomes.

With a unique and local understanding of the barriers facing many of the children, Clare has shouldered the privilege and responsibilities of her principal role by investing first in the school’s teachers and middle-level leadership.

Clare is building the capacity of the next generation of teachers, educational leaders, and principals through mentoring and providing targeted professional learning for her staff. Creating a culture of trust and shared responsibility in her community, her leadership is positively transforming children’s outcomes and their experience of primary education in Victoria.

Kristy Mullins, Wangaratta West Primary School

As principal of Wangaratta West Primary School, a school of 500 students, Kristy Mullins has created an exceptional learning environment where students feel safe and cared for and where families are valued as an integral part of their child’s education.

A strong moral vision has guided Kristy in her leadership of her school community — to provide students with the best possible opportunities to learn and thrive. The school’s vision is demonstrated in all aspects of school life, from strategic planning documents and conversations with staff, parents, and students, to the consistent and visible learning in every classroom.

Led by Kristy’s educational and moral integrity, experience and inclusiveness, Wangaratta West Primary students are exceeding the state average in both learning and wellbeing outcomes.

Kristy’s leadership as principal and system leader has created strong and sustaining relationships.

Colin Simpson Outstanding Secondary Principal Award Finalists

Colin Simpson Outstanding Secondary Principal Award Finalists for the Victorian Education Excellence Awards program.

Elaine Hazim, Victoria University Secondary College

As principal of Victoria University Secondary College, Elaine Hazim leads the multi-campus setting of the College as a trusted member of a community of students, parents, and teachers.

For Elaine, her position as principal is undertaken as a service role to her community.

Elaine’s philosophy of working with families and the community for connection and support extends to her leadership of the college. Deriving great pride in the growth of student data, and new and successful learning pathways, her principled commitment to improving educational opportunity and access is outstanding.

Dedicated to building the strength of the Victorian education system, Elaine opens the college to regional schools and staff to share learning and to create professional community across network, region, and state.

Understanding that her role as principal is critical to creating successful pathways for all students, she cultivates leaders to build their own capacity, and in doing so, is extending educational growth and opportunity for all.

Sheereen Kindler, Glen Eira College

When Sheereen Kindler was appointed principal of Glen Eira College she responded to the unique needs of her school community, including a large multi-lingual Jewish community, to improve her students’ outcomes.

Two of Glen Eira College’s key feeder schools are bilingual primary schools, delivering both Japanese and French immersion programs. Initiating the development of relevant immersion programs at the secondary college through its Languages Other Than English (LOTE) program, Sheereen has created continuity for new students’ learning and language acquisition; also, by introducing the teaching of Hebrew — the only mainstream government secondary college to deliver Hebrew LOTE.

On beginning her role as principal, Sheereen focussed on improving the college’s performance in the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE). Leading the development of a comprehensive plan to improve VCE results, the school’s median VCE score is now greatly improved and has been sustained at the same high level for the past two years.

Leading the college on an improvement journey has brought her multi-lingual community together and created a common purpose, resulting in improved student outcomes.

Keith Perry, Kambrya College

Described by colleagues as one of the most influential principals Kambrya College has ever had, Keith Perry’s leadership of staff and students has built a highly cohesive college community.

In promoting a positive learning environment, Keith has fostered a culture of collaboration and support among staff members. Encouraging collaborative data analysis where teachers can share best practice, discuss student progress, and collectively develop ways to improve student outcomes, Keith is empowering teachers to utilise data to inform their teaching and implement targeted interventions.

Keith’s experience and skills in leadership, relationship-building, planning and organisation, have instilled a sense of collective responsibility at the college that is encouraging greater community participation in school activities and actively supporting staff to excel.

With his unwavering commitment to student success, strong leadership, and ability to encourage and empower others, Keith has created a school environment that is positively impacting student outcomes and the community as a whole.

Kimberley Tempest, Cobram Secondary College

Since Kimberley Tempest took on the role of principal at Cobram Secondary College, students are finding new pathways to improved learning outcomes.

Kimberley’s initiatives are re-engaging staff and students with the college and education. Introducing individual learning plans and a blended curriculum with an applied learning approach, Kimberley has also initiated a working college farm run by staff and students, and a successful reengagement program for students who find it hard to connect with a standardised schooling structure.

Cobram Secondary College’s location in rural Victoria has, until recently, meant limited opportunity and access to Vocational Education and Training (VET) for interested students. Creating links and active partnerships within the local community, Kimberley has now established several VET subjects at the college.

Transforming the community of Cobram Secondary College to a learning environment responsive to student need, Kimberley has built trust and a common sense of purpose between college and the community.

Further information

Further information about the Victorian Education Excellence Awards program.


Professional photographs of finalists taken during the award ceremony will be made available in the week following the event.

Finalists will receive an email with a link to an online gallery from which they can download their photos.

For further information, finalists can phone 03 9084 8743 or email:

Social media

Guests can send messages of support and congratulations to finalists by using the hashtag #VEEA

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Further information

The Victorian Education Excellence Awards recognise the inspirational teachers, principals, business managers and education support staff that improve young lives and give children the skills, courage and curiosity they need to be their best. The awards are an opportunity to congratulate and showcase the individuals and schools inspiring and innovating public education in Victoria.

For further information about the Victorian Education Excellence Awards, please visit:

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