Deborah Dunstone has been Assistant Director-General, State Schools - Disability and Inclusion in the Department of Education since 2017, when she took on the challenge of leading the whole-of-agency response to the Queensland Disability Review.

Across a long and successful career as a Secondary Principal, Assistant Regional Director, and Regional Director, Deb’s passion for inclusive practice has always been evident. Deb is well known for her capacity to inspire and challenge leadership teams to develop the vision of a system where every student belongs to their school community, engages purposefully in learning and experiences success.

Her leadership is hallmarked by her willingness to confront barriers to change, encouraging people to ask difficult questions and working with them to co-design innovative, evidence-based solutions. Queensland’s Inclusive Education policy is recognised nationally and internationally – its success is about policy and practice being led at a system level to support school improvement.

Deb holds a Bachelor of Educational Studies with The University of Queensland and was recently awarded a 2019 ACEL QLD, Excellence in Educational Leadership Award.

Inclusive Leadership – adjusting the adjustments during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic saw Queensland state schools respond quickly to the needs of all students. With 18.3% of our students identified in NCCD data as requiring an adjustment to access the Australian Curriculum alongside their peers, we needed a multi-disciplinary plan to support teachers, students and their families during this time. By positioning inclusive educational support at the front end of all our system-level planning for learning@home, we ensured students were supported to access and participate in learning.

This keynote will not only share Queensland’s story, it will challenge the thinking of leaders at all levels. School leaders will be challenged to reflect on their curriculum delivery and the adjustments they make to ensure all students can continue learning in these unprecedented times.

Principals will be challenged to consider their critical role in supporting leadership teams, teachers, students and their families to learn together and keep connected. As we know, these connections provide so many protective factors that ensure the wellbeing of our communities.

And by reflecting on their own recent experience through this lens of inclusion and wellbeing, educational leaders across all systems may position their thinking for the 2021 COVID response and recovery academic year -to ensure ‘every student is succeeding’.