Education Week Focuses On Celebrating 175 Years Of Learning In Public Schools

Written by: The Griffith Phoenix


The past 175 years of public education have seen substantial changes in technology.

This week, the region’s public schools threw open their classroom doors to families and communities during Education Week 2023, the annual celebration of teaching and learning in government schools.

Education Week has special significance this year as the NSW Department of Education marks 175 years of public education – focusing on learning from our past, celebrating our achievements and embracing the future with confidence.

Education Secretary, Murat Dizdar said Education Week had been a highlight of the NSW public education calendar for more than 60 years.

“Education Week celebrates the excellence that occurs every day in our 95,000 classrooms – the achievements of our students, teachers and school staff, and the support of our parents, carers and school communities,” Mr Dizdar said.

“The history of public education reflects the development of our State, from the slab hut schoolhouses in the Colony of New South Wales, where parents paid for teachers, to the free and modern schools we now build in high-growth areas in the State.”

In 1848 the Board of National Education was tasked by Governor FitzRoy to set up a system of public schools. Before that time schools were operated by religious denominations and charities.

The town of Kempsey was the birthplace of public education, with the establishment of the Kempsey National School in 1848 by the Board of National Education.

By 1851 there were 37 public schools in NSW educating 2,300 students. By 1900 – when there were only a handful of secondary public schools – students typically left school at age 12 to start work.

Today the NSW Department of Education is one of the largest education systems in the world, with nearly 800,000 students learning in 2,200 schools.

The school leaving age is 17 and two-thirds of students finish 13 years of education in Year 12.

Mr Dizdar said Education Week was an opportunity to reflect on the value of public education, where every student was known, valued and cared for in a range of school settings to suit every learner.

“We want parents and carers to actively choose a NSW public school and be confident their children will receive an education of the highest quality from talented and committed teachers,” he said.

“Public education welcomes all students and proudly embraces equity and inclusion. All students, regardless of their postcode and life circumstances, deserve the same opportunities.”

Students can celebrate the history of their school or community in the ‘My History, Your History, Our History’ competition, with entries open until September 15.

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