NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has used the launch of Education Week 2017 to vow to give every child in NSW the same opportunity to be their best “no matter where they live” or their background.
"As a product of the public school education system myself I still feel so inspired by the teachers who made a difference to my learning," Ms Berejiklian said.
"I want to make sure every child in NSW has that same opportunity to be their best no matter where they live, no matter what their circumstances or their background.
"Public education allows our children to dream big, to think big and to feel that the sky is the limit."
Education Week was simultaneously launched today at Glenmore Park High School in western Sydney and Tamworth High School, attended by political, educational and community leaders, students and school staff, and livestreamed throughout NSW.
The NSW public education system, with 800,000 students and 86,000 staff in 2,200 schools, is the largest education system in the southern hemisphere.
The "scale and significance" of teachers' work in nurturing and educating students "cannot be overstated", Ms Berejiklian said.
Education Week highlights the achievements of public education and local schools, putting the spotlight on students, educators and school communities. NSW public schools will hold special events during the week, inviting their local communities to see firsthand the great teaching and learning.
The Minister for Education, Rob Stokes, said the Education Week theme ‘I Learn, We Learn' recognised education lasted a lifetime, and was both relational because it was about people and spatial, about places of learning.
"Each and every one of us needs to be lifelong learners; it's a journey we are all part of," he said.
Mr Stokes said the 63rd annual Education Week was an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the incredible work of public schools, educators and students.
Public schools remained key institutions in communities right across the state and more important than ever in a world facing a "plethora of challenges" from environmental degradation to the disappearance of traditional jobs.
The keynote speech was delivered from Tamworth by Tamworth South Public School teacher Robyn Inglis and two of her former students – Joseph Anderson, Year 6, Tamworth South Public School, and Geordie Brown, Year 12 at Oxley High School.
Joseph said he was inspired to learn through enriched and diverse learning experiences provided by his teachers. "Through this inspiration I've found a spark," he said. "This spark has given me a drive to become an astrophysicist."
Geordie said he valued the trusting relationship between teachers and students.
"This allows us as students to have the freedom to dream, to experiment and to make mistakes and learn from them," he said.
"I was lucky enough to have a teacher who did just this. A teacher who said it was okay to be different, to dream big, to want more and to hope for a better future."
Mrs Inglis said educators aimed to inspire students "to be the best they can be".
"If you are passionate and serious about your goals and you reach for the stars, then magic will happen," she said.
Department of Education Secretary Mark Scott said the outstanding student leaders, performers and orators at the Education Week launch were the "tip of the iceberg" of the public school talent pool.
"We have a commitment in NSW public education to really delivering for every student in every school; that every student will improve, that every teacher will improve, every leader will improve; that we are delivering world-class education for 800,000 children in our care every day," he said.