Education Week – DG for a day
Public Education Week was celebrated with amazing stories across the state illustrating the spirit of NSW public schools.
In the department's Sydney head office, 32 student leaders participating in the popular DG for a Day program gathered to tell their stories about their school experience and create new ones for their communities back at home.
Already the students had shadowed executives across the department from the position of director-general to director of legal services. Over lunch the students joined Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli and Director-General Michele Bruniges in a forum to openly discuss ways to improve students' performances during the transition from primary to high school and the ensuing middle years.
Student voice heard
Minister Piccoli said the forum opened up a valuable opportunity to talk with what he referred to as "the customers of public education" on a range of topics important to them, some of which would feed into the Rural and Remote Educational Strategy consultations.
"It was really valuable because I talk usually to adults. I've never really had a conversation like that with students about what makes a difference to them in the classroom," Mr Piccoli said.
"The students had really good ideas that identify what some of the road blocks are - they were of a very good calibre."
Transition to high school a key issue
Students raised a range of issues such as the idea of teaching students multitasking skills before they reached high school, and ensuring charismatic and engaging teachers were assigned to Year 7 classes.
In particular, Mr Piccoli took note of the comments relating to students feeling overwhelmed by the increase in the number of assignments when they reached Year 7, the issue of students not seeing subjects as being relevant to their HSC until they reached the senior years, and teachers being assigned to subjects outside of their specialty in rural areas due to elements such as school sizes and the availability of staff with specialist backgrounds and knowledge.
Student leadership important
Director-General Michele Bruniges said each student had a contribution to make in public education in their leadership roles in their own local communities.
"They shouldn't underestimate the spirit and the intellectual capacity they bring to that role. We've seen some of that in the debate here - some really reflective comments - and we should listen to what they have to say, both as a department but also recognise the great contribution they make in each of their school communities," she said
Communication of ideas empowering
Student Cameron Allan from Merewether High, who acted as DG for the Day with Inverell High's Polly McKinnon, said all the students addressed key issues in education.
"The intention of the Department of Education was hearing the student voice and seeing the other end of the pyramid of how we experience their policy, so I felt empowered and inspired that I could really do something."
Photo: Director-General Michele Bruniges with DG for a Day students Merewether High's Cameron Allan and Inverell High's Polly McKinnon. Photo by David Lefcovitch.