• Secretary's update

Thank you for your dedication

The Secretary thanks all education staff for the remarkable work done across the department in recent months.

On the eve of the Easter break and school holidays, I want to thank each and every one of you for the remarkable work done across the Department of Education in recent months.

It has been a term we will never forget. We started the year shrouded in smoke: vast sections of the state ravaged by fires, communities devastated by personal loss and exhausted by a summer on high alert.

And then, out of nowhere, this virus that has come to disrupt so much of what we would have felt central in our lives: how we live and work, how we shop, where we travel, who we see, even where we can stand. The speed of its impact has been astonishing and the consequences, staggering.

In the face of it all, the response across the department by all our people has been magnificent.

It is hard to think of a time when so much has changed in our schools so quickly and so unexpectedly.

I have often said there are only two kinds of jobs in this department: those who help young people learn; and then the rest of us, in a myriad of ways supporting those delivering teaching and learning in early childhood centres and schools, in training centres and universities.

That commitment – to supporting young people and their learning – has never been more strongly demonstrated than in recent weeks.

At every school across the state, the challenge was embraced by principals, teachers and support staff together. It has been such a bold and rapid response to a pressing, immediate challenge. Totally re-thinking how students would be taught and how to best support learning, engagement and wellbeing when our classrooms were largely empty. Everyone committed to deliver. Strong leadership. Remarkable collaboration and teamwork. Tremendous organisational skills. Long, long hours. Good cheer and great humour amidst the exhaustion. Outstanding public service.

Across the department, there have been teams at work. Solving problems and delivering solutions. Creating great distance learning materials and training for staff. Procuring soap and toilet paper for our schools when traditional suppliers had run out. Tracking down thousands of laptops and internet dongles to support students in need, particularly those in the senior years. Working on deals to keep early childhood centres open. Rethinking how the HSC and university admission might work for Year 12. Helping TAFE and other training providers reskill those who had lost work. Supporting international students far from home. Answering thousands of questions from staff, parents and the media. And every day, working with NSW Health to assist learning communities affected directly by COVID-19.

Thank you everyone for the remarkable, spirited and professional response to the challenge. It has been an extraordinary effort and a phenomenal example of our organisational values in action – service, excellence, accountability, trust, equity and integrity.

As we listen to the health experts, observe what is happening overseas, and as we study the curve – we know this is not all behind us. We face more uncertainty, disruption and isolation. But recent weeks have once more shown we can do great things for the young people in our care. No matter what the circumstances may be, we are committed to helping them learn and grow, ensuring they remain known, valued and cared for at this time more than ever. We are committed to ensuring the most disadvantaged in our society don’t suffer even further because of this disruption.

Throughout it all and on the other side, teaching and learning will be a cornerstone of our society and our citizens everywhere. We will continue to deliver through all the uncertainty, challenge and change.

But for now, I hope everyone can take pride in what has been achieved.
And enjoy a well-deserved break in the coming days.

Stay safe, stay well, stay isolated!

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