September 13 - 19, 2020: Issue 466


NSW Education Awards 2020 celebrate outstanding achievement in public education: Local recognition

Outstanding student achievement and inspiring public education staff and parents have been recognised in the 2020 NSW Minister’s and Secretary’s Awards for Excellence.

The awards to 120 individuals and schools showcase NSW public school students, staff and parents who have made major contributions to their education communities and serve as role models to their peers.

They also acknowledge schools that have embraced innovative programs to improve student wellbeing and academic results and are changing the way education is delivered within the government system.

The award recipients, from right across NSW, were selected in the following categories:

  • Minister’s Award for Excellence in Student Achievement
  • Minister’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • Secretary’s Award for Excellent Service
  • Secretary’s Award for an Outstanding School Initiative
  • Secretary’s School Achievement Award
  • Public School Parent of the Year.

The NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning, Sarah Mitchell, said the awards affirmed the high standards, dedication and community connections in the public education system.

“These awards highlight the tremendous contribution that students, teachers, support staff, principals and the school community make to public education in NSW as we strive for learning and teaching excellence,” Ms Mitchell said.

Department of Education Secretary Mark Scott said it was timely to celebrate the range of achievements in a difficult year for schools, staff and students.

“This year's recipients showed the remarkable flexibility and resourcefulness in our school communities when faced with the learning challenges of COVID-19,” he said.

“Many of these schools and teachers have used their significant knowledge of education in their communities to lift their school standards and recognise all students as their own learners.”

Public Education Foundation executive director David Hetherington said the foundation was proud to host the awards on behalf of Education Minister Sarah Mitchell and Department Secretary Mark Scott.

“The awards are always a highlight of the education calendar, showcasing the extraordinary talent across NSW public education, which has been on display more than ever in this unusual year,” Mr Hetherington said.

The following students, teachers, parents and initiatives have been recognised in the 2020 Awards:

Minister’s Award for Excellence in Student Achievement:

Alexandra Carroll - NBSC Mackellar Girls Campus

Alexandra Carroll has distinguished herself in every aspect of her school life. As School Captain, Alexandra has been exemplary; with strong leadership capabilities matched with a most caring, positive manner. She has consistently displayed integrity and responsibility, and is always a productive individual. Alexandra has distinguished herself academically in all her subjects and by her selection for the National Constitutional Convention. Alexandra’s exceptionally high personal standards and her contributions to the community make her an outstanding role model. Her talent is further evidenced by her varied sporting, cultural and community achievements and her prolific fundraising for charity.

Piper Harrison - NBSC Mackellar Girls Campus

Piper Harrison has demonstrated excellence in every aspect of her school life. As School Captain, Piper displays the strongest leadership, integrity and responsibility, and is a proactive and productive individual with a keen sense of the welfare of others. Piper has distinguished herself academically, excelling to the highest level. Her National and State achievements in Swimming, Athletics, Cross Country, Surf Lifesaving and Triathlon, further evidence Piper’s commitment to excellence and broad talent, her exceptionally high personal standards and her contributions to community make her an outstanding role model. Piper is a remarkable young woman, the consummate student of excellence

Minister’s Award for Excellence in Teaching:

Karen Gourlay - The Forest High School

Karen Gourlay is an outstanding teacher and leader who demonstrates the Australian Professional Standards to an exemplary level. Karen is recognised by the whole school and professional associations for her expert knowledge and leadership of colleagues. Under Karen’s leadership, differentiation of the curriculum has ensured that students with diverse characteristics and backgrounds are challenged and inspired to enjoy and succeed in mathematics. Karen’s passion and dedication to students, staff and the community make her a worthy recipient of this award.

Secretary’s Award for an Outstanding School Initiative:

The Forest High School -  Trailblazer Program

The Trailblazer Program is an outstanding initiative, developed to address the academic and wellbeing needs of senior students through a peer tutoring and mentoring program. The Trailblazers are recently graduated, high achieving students who can relate to senior students and the pressures they are experiencing. Trailblazers act as advocates and role models in the school community and ensure the continuity of leadership. During the recent health crisis, the Trailblazer team created innovative online support resources and strategies. Qualitative and quantitative data demonstrates the program has improved students’ results.

Public School Parent of the Year:

Melanie Saunders - Northern Beaches Secondary College – Cromer Campus 

Melanie Saunders is mother of two beautiful children, balancing home and her own career, she somehow finds the time to serve as the school’s P&C President. Her desire to make Cromer Campus the school of choice within our community has led to increasing parental engagement, improved school communication and oversight of highly successful fundraising activities. Melanie has overseen upgrades and improvements to many school facilities while supporting the schools vision and commitment to sustainability and environmental programs. Melanie is a worthy recipient of the Public School Parent of the Year Award for her outstanding service to public education.

Amanda Shaw - The Forest High School

Amanda Shaw has served as an executive member and non-office bearing member of the P&C and School Council for five years. Amanda has been P&C President for the last two years after serving three years as Vice President. She has given generously of her time over those years, often rescheduling her work and family commitments to benefit the students, staff and community of The Forest High School. Amanda is a strong parent advocate for the school community who actively promotes and supports public education.