On May 15th, 2024, 175 people came together from across the learning ecosystem. We were welcomed to Muwinina Land with a special smoking ceremony and welcome by Palawa Nation Elder Uncle Rodney Dillo. 

Embracing a Vision of Transformation

We began the day with a shared vision for an education system that supports young people to thrive, at school and into their futures in learning and work. "We are here in Hobart to explore how the learning system needs to change to meet the needs of young people today so they have the skills for the jobs of tomorrow."  

Together, the room reflected on the transition from last year's gathering in Adelaide and emphasised the significance of the collaborative effort taking place across different jurisdictions. As one participant shared "It takes many parts to work together to make a whole system - that’s why we’re here today as an education ecosystem."

The We Are More X Hobart event was co-hosted by The Tasmanian Department for Education, Children and Young People, South Australia Department for Education, Northern Territory Department for Education, Jobs Tasmania, The University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Metrics, the National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition and Learning Creates Australia.

A visual journey of the story of the day

Acknowledging Diverse Talents and Capacities

A pivotal theme echoed throughout the discussions was the imperative to recognise and celebrate the diverse talents and capabilities of young individuals. It became evident that traditional metrics of success, such as ATAR scores, often overlook the richness of experiences and skills outside conventional academic realms and don’t prioritise the wellbeing of young people. As one participant emphasised, "Formally recognising young people’s achievements outside of ‘traditional’ learning can have a massive impact on their confidence, drive, sense of self-worth, and love for learning." And another shared - “The ATAR is not the only measure of success or the only reason children should be praised. I know as a year 9 student I am extremely scared of transitioning into high school. I am scared of failure, waking up on a bad day and having to take life changing tests. I am scared of not knowing what my future will look like in 10 years.”

Fostering a Shared Vision for Learning Success

At the heart of the transformative discussions in Hobart lay a collective aspiration for redefining success in education. Participants each shared their vision for what success should look like for a young person at the end of secondary education, illuminating diverse perspectives from various stakeholders. 

"There’s no point in being good at school for the sake of being good at school - it's not about being good - it's about being able to thrive, prosper, learn and grasp opportunities."

Participants then engaged in reflective dialogue, identifying areas they felt were missing from the definitions of success and suggesting ways to enhance them including incorporating more emphasis on identity and agency to fostering resilience and joy in learning experiences.

Participants advocated for challenging existing norms, involving students in decision-making processes, and valuing all pathways equally. 

Key Insights included:

  1. Adaptability and Lifelong Learning: Across all stakeholder groups, there was a resounding emphasis on the importance of adaptability and lifelong learning. Participants recognized the need for young individuals to be prepared for a dynamic world where continuous learning is essential.
  2. Practical Skills and Knowledge: Employers and tertiary providers underscored the significance of practical skills and hands-on experience, essential for navigating the workforce effectively.
  3. Emotional and Social Development: While educators valued emotional and social development, it was noted that other groups placed less emphasis on these aspects.
  4. Self-Confidence and Empowerment: Students expressed a strong desire for self-confidence and empowerment, highlighting the importance of feeling confident and capable in their chosen paths.

The Importance of Lifelong Learning

Central to conversations on the day was the acknowledgment that education is a lifelong journey, especially given predictions of future jobs requiring higher skills. As one student shared, “We are aware of the need for further education and see it as an essential step to advancing our careers and lives." Initiatives aimed at enhancing post-school pathways, improving access to higher education, and empowering teachers resonated deeply. The consensus was clear: education must transcend traditional boundaries to embrace the dynamic needs of a rapidly evolving world. “Alternative education options need to be available to students earlier, and they need to be visible…we don’t know what we can’t see.”

Future-Ready Initiatives

In the morning we held 5 “fishbowl” conversations involving 5 ecosystems working together to improve how young people are prepared for work and life. Participants listened to members of each ecosystem discuss their collaboration, e.g. how it came about, its impact, barriers faced along the way and asked questions.

Cases for Change

In the afternoon. particpants split into groups to hear from presenters across 16 different organisations who shared some of their key challenges with diverse groups who worked through a systems framework (the 4 keys) to identify solutions for shared impact.

Exploring Futures in Society and Work

Across the day participants stressed the vital role of education in preparing individuals for the evolving demands of society and work. They advocated for a system that acknowledges diverse skills and provides effective career guidance. Recognising the limitations of traditional measures of success, they urged for a shift towards fostering adaptability and seizing opportunities. "I think the promise should be - Can they pursue in everyday and every way their own passions and interests, and learn through those." Acknowledging current shortcomings, participants called for proactive change, aiming to better serve the needs of both individuals and employers. "Sit with the discomfort today that we aren't serving young people and employers well with the system we have."

Navigating Challenges with Collective Wisdom

Amidst the conversations participants expressed the challenges entrenched within existing educational systems. From grappling with declining engagement rates to addressing geographical disparities, the journey towards reform is fraught with obstacles. However, fueled by collective wisdom and a shared commitment to change, optimism prevailed. The discussions resonated with a belief in the transformative power of unified action. As challenges were acknowledged, so too were the opportunities for innovation and progress. Together, participants navigated the complexities, charting a course towards inclusive, adaptable educational ecosystems."I worry about the state of the world, but feel optimistic about young people coming through who care."

Charting a Course for Action

As discussions unfolded, a clear call to action emerged. Commitments were made which underscored a shared resolve to transform rhetoric into tangible outcomes. They included:

My world and place - 

  • Capacity building for leaders
  • Building networks for collective action and learning
  • Amplifying voices (of young people, universities and employers)
  • Increasing access for young people to receive customised support / guidance to explore opportunities

My wellbeing and learning success - 

  • Improving student engagement, support and wellbeing (e.g. trauma-informed training; provide resources that empower, rather than just fix issues)
  • Educational collaboration and improvement (clarifying roles in the ecosystems, working together to rethink “success”, involve students and teachers in school improvement)
  • Recognition and innovation in learning (new ways to recognise student capabilities, influence admissions processes, share evidence about the efficacy of such approaches)

My path to further learning - 

  • Partnerships to co-design learning programs and pathways (e.g. involve students, teachers, employers, parents, universities / TAFE, other education providers)
  • Empowerment and support for teachers (e.g. provide adequate resources, system change towards improved workload and retention)
  • Promote recognition of diverse capabilities (e.g. change how senior secondary is credentialed)

My future in society and work -

  • Power redistribution and realignment of shared purpose and goals (e.g. shifting shared beliefs about the role of education in society; align education, training and employment systems)
  • Co-construction with students, educators, industry, community (e.g. of credential frameworks and provision models; address employment challenges; recognising culture and language in curriculum)
  • Improving visibility of, and access to, opportunities for young people (e.g. create a common language, link systems with advocates)

Empowering Voices, Inspiring Change

In the closing sessions, reflections intertwined with aspirations for the future. Participants underscored the transformative potential of  We Are More as a national collaboration, emphasising the power of collective action in driving systemic change. As one participant said, “Our education system will get better, and everyone in this room has been part of achieving that." 

Participants across the room shared their takeaways:

  • “Give young people real decision making power - at the ballot box, on school boards, in departments. Maybe this will be the thing that makes the real difference.”
  • “Commit to the change we want to see. We have a lot of conversations, these shouldnt stop but we need to go do something about it. Comes back to the adults in the room - to actually make change. We have ideas and have come to consensus on what the problems are and what needs to be done - but we need to go and do it.”
  • “Joining up our schools, universities and industries.” 
  • “Place-based learning and supporting young people to explore their opportunities while aligning and connecting them to these opportunities.”

A Journey Forward

When looking forward, participants expressed their hopes for the future of WAM and emphasised the importance of collaboration across jurisdictions, looking forward to bringing the initiative to the Northern Territory next year. "Systems don't change themselves" one participant shared "people change systems."


Learning Creates Australia
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