Nation's leaders reflect on the power of public education

NSW public school graduates send their messages of support for EdWeek.

Image: Education Week is a state-wide celebration of NSW public education for students, Education staff and families.

National and state leaders, sporting champions and literary legends have sent messages of support to more than 900,000 NSW public school students and staff as Education Week 2020 starts today.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian – both alumni of NSW public education – led the cheer squad, noting the disruption to education and lives this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters.

“As a proud graduate of the NSW public education system, I’m delighted to celebrate Education Week 2020,” said Mr Morrison, who attended Sydney Boys High School.

“This has not been an easy year for teachers or students. Our schools have faced the uncertainty of our times – and have not been found wanting.

“Dedication, effort, acceptance, support, encouragement, and community: these are the values that our schools embody. Not just this year, but every year.

“Our schools, teachers and students have made extraordinary efforts during these momentous times. For that, I say thank you and well done.”

Ms Berejiklian said the theme of Education Week – ‘Learning together’ – was particularly fitting considering “the extraordinary challenges this year has presented”.

“In the face of drought, bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, our school communities have proven just how strong and adaptable they are. Teachers and support staff moved quickly to online lessons; parents and carers took on additional roles as home teachers and students adjusted to a new way of learning.”

Award-winning novelist Kate Grenville, author of The Secret River, said her “brilliant” teachers at Cremorne Girls High School “laid the groundwork for everything I’ve achieved since then”.

“Public education is the most precious resource of our community and deserves full support, so it can give today’s students the great start in life that I was lucky enough to receive,” she said.

Paralympic gold medallist Kurt Fearnley, who attended Carcoar Public and Blayney High schools, said attending his local schools “gave me a sense of dignity, a sense of value”.

“Inclusion. It’s like a fundamental part of the public education system. That idea of acceptance is in its DNA,” he said.

Artistic director, director and actor Rachael Maza, an alumna of Woollahra Demonstration Primary School, Dover Heights and Sydney Girls High, said the dedication and passion of her teachers “inspired in me the want to learn”.

“I recall vividly those teachers that took the time to invest in me when I would have been happy to hide in the crowd. We have much to be grateful for regarding education in this country – so let’s celebrate that,” she said.

Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell, who also attended public schools, congratulated all school staff for “the phenomenal effort” to switch from learning in the classroom to learning from home, and then return to face-to-face teaching at school.

“The laser focus of all has been to continue the high-quality education of our students, and I am so grateful for the professionalism and dedication shown by our staff,” she said.

“If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that schools are the cornerstone of our communities in NSW and together we can achieve great things.”

Visit the Education Week supporters page to read more messages of support.

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