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It's great being on the ground

It has been my privilege to spend time in more than 20 schools over the past fortnight – high schools, primary schools and SSPs – across Sydney, in regional centres and in rural settings.

It was wonderful to sit in classrooms with students, watch some special performances and, particularly, to engage with principals, leadership teams and teachers. There is nothing better than being on the ground. It helps me better understand the demands and challenges of running schools in practice and to identify the kind of support schools need to improve educational outcomes for young people and also make the department a great place in which to work.

On Monday afternoon, the department's senior leadership team met in Newcastle after everyone spent time visiting different schools in the morning. It was great to start our meeting with insights and observations from what we had seen visiting classrooms and talking with staff. This is a practice we would like to continue every term next year.

I am increasingly conscious that there are two main job descriptions for our work in schools. There are those who engage regularly with students and have an active role in promoting strong learning. And there are those of us who look to support our schools and the teams working there to create the learning environment.

We are all committed to the young people in our care: we are a student-centred organisation and all our work should be focused directly or indirectly on creating schools where every young person is flourishing. It is an ambitious goal but a worthy one and at the centre of our planning for coming years.

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Mark Scott

About the secretary

Mark Scott is Secretary of the Department of Education. He has worked as a teacher, in public administration and as a journalist and media executive. He is committed to public education and learning environments where every child can flourish.

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