Ms JENNY AITCHISON (Maitland)—This year, with bushfires, floods and COVID-19, in the midst of more than three years of drought, schools have demonstrated that they truly are a vital part of connecting our communities, developing resilience and the capacity to cope with a changing environment, and building a love for lifelong learning in our young people.

More than ever before, we have seen parents take a much more active role in the education of their children with home schooling. Parents have seen firsthand the challenges of helping their children to focus on structured learning. For many families, in a year full of change and challenge, their schools have perhaps been their most stable partners. This year has also highlighted the importance of the relationships our children develop in school, both to their social development and their mental health.

Thank you to everyone who has been involved with providing education– at every level from pre-school and early childhood learning to primary school, high school, TAFE and University. Let's celebrate those who work on the front lines and behind the scenes as teachers, administrators, teacher's aides and volunteers to provide the rich learning experiences that enhance our students and build a better society.