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The SACE Board's vision for a thriving learner

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The story of thrive

‘Thrive’ is an entitlement,
not a buzzword

The South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) is the culmination of years of schooling for young people. In the global context of 2020 and beyond, SACE students are entitled to much more than a checklist of knowledge, skills and values – they are entitled to thrive.

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The story of thrive

Redefining our purpose and future of the SACE

We need to reframe the SACE so that a thriving learner is what matters most in a SACE education.

To do this, we need to be clear on our purpose.

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SACE Board Chief Executive Martin Westwell looking straight at camera.
SACE Officer Danielle Popovic looking straight at camera.
The story of thrive

‘Thrive’ is the learning entitlement

The SACE is a promise to every student that they will finish their school experience with evidence of their own unique ability to thrive.

Drawing on research and policy statements such as The Alice Springs Mparntwe Education Declaration  , we have identified six elements that we believe students are entitled to 'say, think, feel, and do' to be a thriving learner.

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Embrace thrive

The six elements

We are not providing strict definitions of these elements of a thriving learner, because that will limit what they might mean to you and how you see them in your own context.

Instead, we've added some resources, ideas and anecdotes about these elements to get you thinking about why it's these elements that we believe make up a thriving learner.

The six elements explained

Zest for life
(lifelong learning)

Zest for life and lifelong learning go hand-in-hand. Some phrases used to characterise a person with a zest for life include 'being curious, asking questions, engaging with the head and the heart, seeking connections'. Is zest for life intrinsic in a thriving learner?

Here are some links to get you thinking about this element. They are meant to spark debate and discussion about how – as an education community – we will characterise a thriving learner. Take a look.

Pair of shoes standing on a road. Text: future we want.

What is the future we want?

Listen to students in the OECD future of education and skills 2030 project talk about what they want in their future life.

View the video on the OECD website  

Australian Learning Lecture logo.

Positive education

Watch this case study from the Australian Learning Lecture, featuring Mount Barker High School.

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– Image of a document showing a glossary of terms including curious, questioning, adventurous.

Traits of lifelong learners

View this extract from Guy Claxton’s article on 'Expanding the capacity to learn'.

  Download extract [PDF 116KB]

Explore the other elements
The six elements explained

Deep understanding and skilful action

Some teachers say that deep understanding and skilful action happens when classrooms are student-centred, where they can take charge of their learning and make connections to their world outside the classroom. How do we reach a deeper level of understanding? And can you see the connections with the other elements of thrive?

Here are some links to get you thinking about this element. They are meant to spark debate and discussion about how – as an education community – we will characterise a thriving learner. Take a look.

Teacher and students in a classroom setting.

Essential skills

Watch this video about essential skills and character traits for the 21st century.

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Female student in uniform smiling directly at camera.

Going deeper

Read this essay about deeper learning that fosters engagement and connection.

  Download essay [PDF 107KB]

Close-up of student writing on an exam paper.

Ace the test

Watch the teacher when he realises all his students want is to ace the test.

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Explore the other elements
The six elements explained

Ability to transfer learning

Transfer can be defined as the ability to adapt prior learning and apply it in new situations and circumstances. Is embedding transfer in students core business for educators in the 21st century?

Here are some links to get you thinking about this element. They are meant to spark debate and discussion about how – as an education community – we will characterise a thriving learner. Take a look.

 Close-up satellite image of the Earth.

Struggle and resolve pedagogy

Hear examples about students expressing their knowledge in different ways.

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Image of a Dr Suess character overlaid with a report titled 'Here, there and anywhere: Transfer of learning'.

Here, there, and anywhere

Read this article about the transfer of knowledge in and out of the classroom.

  Download article [PDF 395KB]

a A flock of galahs sit together on power lines.

Birds on a wire

Watch this example of the ability to transfer learning, inspired by a photo.

View tweet  

Explore the other elements
The six elements explained


Having agency means participating in active learning rather than passive learning, and trying to work things out for yourself. It's also being willing to experiment, learn, fail, and then try again. What is agency to you? Do we foster it in the SACE?

Here are some links to get you thinking about this element. They are meant to spark debate and discussion about how – as an education community – we will characterise a thriving learner. Take a look.

Image of the Australian outback with text overlay 'Learning Pitjantjatjara'.

Learning Pitjantjatjara

Watch a student tell her story about taking on an Australian language.

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Student Agency for 2030

View the resources on the OECD’s Future of education and skills 2030 website.

OECD website  

Teenager smiling directly at camera.

Kangaroo Island Surf

Watch Audrey Robinson's journey from cross disciplinary studies to business owner.

Play video 

Explore the other elements
The six elements explained

Human connectedness

Here's some food for thought: 'When there is human connectedness, there is a place for everyone at the table.' 'Fostering human connection fosters learning.' 'It's the opposite of individualism'. What is human connectedness to you? Is it the glue that sticks all the elements of a thriving learner together?

Here are some links to get you thinking about this element. They are meant to spark debate and discussion about how – as an education community – we will characterise a thriving learner. Take a look.

Middle-aged woman giving a TED talk.

Every kid needs a champion

Watch this TED talk on the value and importance of human connection.

  Play video

Image of police facing a rally group; some members of each group are kneeling.

Holding communities together

Watch this news clip about finding connection through troubled times.

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Cartoon image of a sad fox with a rain cloud over her head and a thought bubble with a sad face emoji inside.

Empathy and human connection

Watch this Brene Brown video on how it’s empathy that drives human connection.

  Play video

Explore the other elements
The six elements explained


Belonging is about being included, and feeling included. A person with belonging says 'we will do better if we work together'. It can draw a person towards where they can make the most effective contribution. Without a sense of belonging, can anyone really thrive in this world?

Here are some links to get you thinking about this element. They are meant to spark debate and discussion about how – as an education community – we will characterise a thriving learner. Take a look.

Aboriginal Community Education Officer Cliff Walkington looks earnestly at something off-camera.

Public education diversity

Watch how Woodville High School fosters and celebrates belonging at their school.

  Play video

Crayon drawing of stick-figure people holding hands encircling the world.

The psychology of belonging

Read this article that delves into the science of belonging and why it matters in the classroom

Learning & the Brain® website  

Four high-school students in uniform interact with each other, with the heading text 'Teacher: evidence, insight, action'.

Belonging in Australian schools

Refer to this article from teacher magazine about the 2015 PISA study into belonging in Australian schools.

Teacher magazine website  

Explore the other elements
Embrace thrive

What does a thriving learner look like?

What do you want from your education?

Bringing thrive to life

Our priorities

We are enacting thrive through three strategic priorities.

  • Bold leader

    We will further develop the SACE Board as a leader in education and as an exemplary public service agency.

    We will be agile in our work, collaborative in our approach, and have beneficial impact on education and on our students

     Learn more

  • Connected qualification

    We will further develop a qualification through which students can thrive and provides evidence of their knowledge, skills, capabilities and other attributes that will connect them to industry sectors and other pathways.

     Learn more

  • Thriving learner

    We will lead the development of learners who, with the six elements of thrive, can develop with vigour in whatever context they find themselves.

     Learn more

Bringing thrive to life

How does ‘thrive’ speak to…

Gender, equity, rigour, metacognition, micro-credentials, VET, SACE International, Prescient, Aboriginal education, our response to the SACE review, the Shergold Review, parents, students, and teachers? Select a topic to find out.

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Help us bring thrive to life

Through a series of key projects, we will reframe the SACE, using the six elements of a thriving learner as our guide to enact change.

In 2021, we're connecting school leaders, educators, and students with dedicated SACE teams to tackle these projects. This will be called the SACE Change Network.

Together, the network will explore new approaches and opportunities to develop solutions to support thriving 21st century learners.

Check below to see the projects we're working on and register your interest   to get involved.

SACE Change network logo

Get involved in a project

Man holding up a poster with a concept for the learner profile. Has a 'traffic light' colouring system (red, yellow, and green) to show differing levels of skill for each capability.

Learner profile

A project committed to showcasing the knowledge, skills, and capabilities of the whole student.

Register your interest.  

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A project focused on identifying the capabilities students are entitled to develop to thrive, and how they can be assessed.

Register your interest.  

Birds-eye view of four young people brainstorming on a wooden table. They have highlighters, pencils, and a computer.

Revitalisation of RP and PLP

A project to revitalise the Research Project (RP) and Personal Learning Plan (PLP) to support students to thrive through their SACE and their post-school pathways.

Register your interest.  

Two people in hard hats and safety glasses assessing a structure.

Recognition of learning

A project of working with community stakeholders to strengthen the value of VET and other forms of recognised learning that support students to thrive.

Register your interest.  

Two young women building a tall structure using colourful plastics in red and yellow. The plastic pieces look like ladders.

Learning transfer

A project focused on creating learning experiences and assessments that support students to transfer their learning to different contexts.

Register your interest.  

Close up of young Aboriginal woman with a scarf looking to the left of the frame.

Aboriginal education

A project to explore ways to value, recognise and celebrate Aboriginal students' language and cultural learning, skills, and capabilities.

Register your interest.  

Blackboard with drawings of a tablet, microphone, headphones, and laptop. Text overlay: Podcast.
Get involved

Bold, connected, and thriving

A podcast by the SACE Board

Tune into our podcast series where we will unpack the our vision for a thriving learner and talk, in practical terms, how we can create and provide evidence of a thriving learner in senior secondary curriculum and assessment.

Episode Two: Will the ATAR die?

In episode two, our host Professor Martin Westwell chats with Professor Peter Shergold, Chair of the Education Council’s review panel into senior secondary pathways, as he discusses the national focus for a Learner Profile, the future of the ATAR, and how we might overcome disadvantage by focusing on skills and capabilities.

  Listen to Episode Two
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Professional learning

The SACE Board is committed to working in partnership with schools, industry and the community so that together we lead the changes needed to support a thriving learner.

That is why we are excited to introduce Prescient, our new professional learning service. Prescient builds on the strong foundations of the Institute of Educational Assessors to bring educators together from all sectors for transformative professional learning.

Forging new pathways, supporting teachers in an ever-evolving landscape, Prescient will empower educators to drive the future of education.

More about Prescient  
Prescient logo (text 'Prescient, empowering educators'), coloured arrows and an image of a male and female looking at a document together