Acknowledging 175 years of public education

In 2023 we celebrated 175 years of public education in NSW with our school communities learning from our past, celebrating our achievements and embracing the future with confidence.

“The history of public education reflects the development of our State, from the slab hut schoolhouses in the Colony of New South Wales, where parents paid for teachers, to the free and modern schools we now build in high-growth areas in the State,” Murat Dizdar, Secretary Department of Education.

Public schools engaged with the My History, Your History, Our History competition researching the history of their school and local community and the Schools Shout Out competition, where schools were invited to shout out their proudest moment, achievement or initiative that has made a positive difference to their school.

Explore the winning entries in our competitions and read stories celebrating 175 years of public education in NSW below.

Board of National Education in 1848

Founded in 1848, the Board of National Education was formed and tasked with establishing a public education system in NSW. Prior to 1848, schools operated under a denominational system and were the responsibility of churches.

The first public school, Kempsey National School, opened that year and by 1851 more than 37 public schools were in operation in NSW.

Fast-forward to today, more than 2,200 public schools are now operating across the state.

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