Educator awarded top honour

Paul Brock

The unswerving commitment of an "intellectual partner and a critical friend" to public education has been recognised by the NSW Secondary Principals' Council.

Dr Paul Brock has received the council's first ever honorary life membership.

The award citation described the highly respected educator, academic, author and government adviser as "a most worthy recipient".

Unswerving support of public education

"His outstanding commitment to secondary school students, his unswerving support of public education, and his tireless work are the tremendous attributes that he brings to his life as an educator.

"His leadership within public education in NSW has helped numerous schools and principals, and his passion for doing what will bring about 'an Australian society that is fair, just, tolerant, honourable, knowledgeable, prosperous and happy' make him worthy of the NSW Secondary Principals' Council's (SPC) highest award," the citation continued.

In accepting the life membership, Dr Brock, who is also a vice-patron of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, NSW, said he was "profoundly moved by this great privilege you have bestowed on me".

Educational leadership is not rocket science

He reflected on a "deceptively profound remark by [Stanford University academic] Linda Darling-Hammond which went something like this: no, educational leadership is not rocket science - it is more complex, challenging and demanding than rocket science".

"I know I am not the only one here today who believes that the time has come for a revitalisation of a refocusing on the importance of secondary education in NSW," Dr Brock said.

SPC president Christine Cawsey said Dr Brock was himself "the benchmark that was used to establish the criteria for honorary life membership".

A tough act to follow

"I would say Paul Brock's a very tough act to follow but, yes, it does mean there may be [future honorary life memberships] for people who've never been principals but who have made a major contribution to our organisation," she said.

"If I were to summarise the whole picture ... Paul has been an intellectual partner and critical friend with our principals.

"He actually understands the notion of the critical friend as well as anyone we've ever met. He's always really tough on the issues but he's very, very kind on the relationships.

"The standing ovation that Paul was given by state assembly - that went on and on and on - was true recognition that we had made the right decision."

Photo: Paul Brock. Photo by Andrew Newman.

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