Awards for school excellence

A teacher who brought robotics to a remote school is among a distinguished group of students, teachers and parents who will be celebrated today at the 2017 Minister's and Secretary's Awards for Excellence.

The Minister for Education, Rob Stokes, and the Department of Education Secretary, Mark Scott, will present awards to 35 students, 37 staff and eight parents from across NSW.

The awards are presented for:

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

Mullion Creek Public School, with a student population of 55, has developed a reputation for robotics thanks to teacher Sharon Cloete, who received a Minister's Award for Excellence in Teaching.

After attending a course in robotics at Macquarie University, Ms Cloete helped introduce robotics from Kindergarten to Year 6 at the school near Orange.

In the most recent Robocup Junior State titles the school sent seven teams and won two categories and will go on to represent NSW at the national titles in Brisbane.

Ms Cloete said the program was about developing the "divergent thinking students will need for a future job".

She was also acknowledged for sharing her knowledge by holding workshops with teachers and helping other small schools in the Orange and Deniliquin networks introduce robotics into their school programs.

School principal Sally Beer said the whole-of-school approach to robotics had helped improve educational outcomes at the school.

She said NAPLAN data showed growth above the State average by more than 20 points and "in some cases 50-60 points".

"Our students are greater risk takers when it comes to learning; we don't have students saying, ‘it's too hard'," Ms Beer said.  

Department Secretary Mark Scott said it was an honour to celebrate the achievements and outstanding work in NSW public schools.

"The students, staff and schools we recognise today are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the excellence we see every day in NSW public schools," Mr Scott said.

"I congratulate these winners and acknowledge that their commitment to excellence and improvement to student learning outcomes is a vision shared across NSW public education."

Education minister Rob Stokes said the awards showcased the tremendous contribution that students, teachers, principals, parents and school communities made to public education in NSW.

 "Schools are just empty buildings without the students, teachers, and parents that make them great," he said.

The awards, administered by the Public Education Foundation, were presented at a ceremony at the Department of Education state office in Sydney.

Public Education Foundation executive director David Hetherington said the foundation was delighted to work with the NSW Education Department in rewarding the significant achievements of students, education staff and parents. 

"These awards are a tribute to their talents, expertise, dedication and tireless commitment to excellence," he said.

For a full list of winners and citations visit the Public Education Foundation website. 

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