Premier’s Awards shine a light on DOE excellence

Pandemic-inspired programs and a new leadership initiative are in the spotlight at the NSW Premier’s Awards. Billy Kos reports.

Image: Thrilled and honoured: Andrew Clifton.

Seven finalists from the NSW Department of Education are in the running to receive a NSW Premier’s Award.

Among them is Andrew Clifton from Millfield Public School, who was nominated for being an amazing educational leader in his role as the school’s Assistant Principal, Curriculum and Instruction.

The Premier’s Awards celebrate outstanding achievements from across the NSW public sector, and selection as a finalist is a highly regarded title demonstrating the highest levels of achievement.

Mr Clifton is a finalist for this year’s Anthea Kerr Award, which recognises future public sector leaders and will be awarded to people who exhibit in their work a deep commitment to public sector values and identified leadership potential.

Mr Clifton was nominated for his strategic leadership of staff, management of multiple whole-school programs and outstanding support of students though positive working relationships with the school community.

He is also being recognised for his outstanding commitment towards improved practice in literacy and numeracy and for working side by side with teachers to achieve growth in a considerate and differentiated way.

Mr Clifton said he was “humbled, thrilled and honoured” to be a finalist in the award.

“I really believe leadership is about trusting people and connecting with them and developing that trust to allow you to make change,” Mr Clifton said.

He said the creation of the Assistant Principal, Curriculum and Instruction was a wonderful initiative by the department.

“To be able to work with teachers in this role is so incredibly special – it allows us to mentor teachers and give them the skills, knowledge and support they need to improve their own professional practice,” he said.

“It is hard for school leaders to have that time to do that deep mentoring and the APCI is a wonderful initiative.”

This year there are seven categories for team nominations which reflect the key policy priorities of NSW Government and two individual categories which recognise exceptional leaders in the sector.

The Department’s Learning from Home Team is a finalist for a Recovery and Resilience Award after designing and implementing a central, high quality and accessible digital curriculum for thousands of schools after the pandemic escalated in 2020.

Five teams from across the Department are also in the running for the Highest Quality Education Award, including:

  • Rural Access Gap program (Information and Technology Directorate)
  • Aboriginal Language and Culture Nests (Aboriginal Outcomes and Partnerships Directorate)
  • Improving HSC Outcomes with a Step Change in Evaluation (Quality Teaching Practice – Learning Improvement)
  • Check-in Assessments to enable student learning (Student Assessment Online Reporting Team) Department of Education
  • Educational Pathways Pilot Program expansion (Education and Skills Reform)

Nominations for the awards were open to all NSW Government agencies and departments, and all finalists and winners are endorsed by the NSW Premier following a rigorous judging process.

Winners will be announced on Tuesday 29 November. For more information about the awards and this year’s finalists visit

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