Passion and potential at the PEF awards night

Cameron Malcher

The life-changing potential of public education was celebrated at the Public Education Foundation’s (PEF) Awards on Wednesday, May 18.

The gala event was held at the Sydney Town Hall, at which more than 200 scholarships were awarded to students from public schools to support their continuing education.

The awards include scholarships for students based on a range of criteria, including grants for the pursuit of science and technology; for students pursuing music at the highly competitive Conservatory High School; for students from refugee backgrounds; for high-potential students facing disadvantage; for young women in education.

On behalf of Federation, Deputy President Gary Zadkovich presented students with the PEF Awards for NSW HSC excellence.

The Harvard Club of Australia also presented scholarships to outstanding principals, including the opportunity to study at Harvard School of Education, with the joint Teachers Mutual Bank and Harvard Club of Australia Education Scholarship going to Clayton Reedie, principal of Dalmeny Public School.

In his acceptance speech, Mr Reedie said that while he was a leader in his school he viewed his position as one of service to students, staff and society.

The night included a range of guests and speakers. Outgoing PEF CEO Nathan Rees spoke warmly about the importance of Gonski needs-based funding and commended the NSW government for its pursuit of needs-based funding.

Special guest speaker, Nobel laureate Brian Schmidt, spoke of the importance of curiosity and passion in his journey from public school to making discoveries about the nature of the universe. “If you do something you love, you’ll do it well,” Professor Schmidt told the many students in attendance. “It’s never the wrong thing.”

MC for the event was Australian comedian, radio host and public education advocate Wendy Harmer, who told tales of her childhood experiences as the daughter of a primary school teacher living in teacher housing in Victoria. Entertainment for the event was provided by students from the NSW Arts Unit programs, including the Public Schools Stage Band and the NSW Public Schools Junior Singers.

Click here for more information about the Public Education Foundation and their scholarships.

Photos and videos of the event can be found here on our website.