This has been another extraordinary school term. I can imagine there have been few mid-year school breaks more anticipated than this one!
For many in our schools, the last term break was a flurry of activity over Easter, with so much work being done to ensure a smooth continuation of ‘learning from home’ in Term 2.
It was great we could get our students back in classes with face-to-face learning sooner than anticipated. But I know it’s been demanding, particularly for our school staff. The migration to at-home learning, then a staged return followed by fully operational classrooms, marked an extremely challenging time.
I think we can all be pleased by how diligently our teams managed all the challenges of Term 2 – and how successfully our schools have operated in the last five weeks with all classrooms open once again. Your support for the strict protocols we have in place is allowing the school gates to remain open and keeping everyone safe.
This term we’ve had to declare a number of schools non-operational for brief periods, where a case has been identified, and we know it will happen again. As the Premier said, it’s something we have to live with. We know our school communities have confidence in us to manage COVID-19 and keep education going for our children and young people while ensuring our workplaces are safe for staff and students.
All across the NSW Department of Education we face continuing challenges through the COVID-19 disruption. We are looking to support the early childhood education sector, which has been hit hard by the business and economic impacts. We are also looking to support the re-skilling of people who have lost their jobs, while meeting the high demand for new skills triggered by the pandemic. We also want to support universities and the vital social and economic impact of their teaching and research work, now under extreme pressure. And in our schools, our teams have been doubling down to ensure that despite the disrupted school year, our students remain engaged in their learning.
This crisis has demonstrated the absolutely central work that takes place in Education, from the first days of learning through to managing mid-career transitions. We are central to the foundation of a fair, just and thriving society. Not only do we strive to provide great life opportunities for all, we are also a key economic driver of employment and services across society.
As we look to Victoria, we can see the ever-present risk of the virus and the need to closely follow health guidelines in all our operations. The balance of 2020 and most likely beyond, will present us with great challenges, but we can be confident we will manage them well, given our experience in the first half of the year.
To all who have worked so hard supporting learning – be it in schools, early childhood centres, training colleges or by our corporate staff – thank you for your great professionalism, dedication and resourcefulness. On any given work day, there is no organisation that connects in such an important way, with so many people, than NSW Education.
If you are getting a break, I trust it can be a truly restful one. And to all our staff, thanks for your continued hard work and your commitment to preparing young people for rewarding lives.
Stay safe and stay well.