The Australian Education Awards 2023: A night that celebrated enduring excellence in our schools

The Australian Education Awards 2023: A night that celebrated enduring excellence in our schools

On Friday night, the best of what Australia’s education system has to offer was recognised and celebrated when more than 800 principals, deputies, department heads and teachers converged at The Australian Education Awards 2023.

The nation’s top educators and schools were recognised across 28 award categories, including the national awards of Education Perfect Australian School Principal of the Year and the Education Perfect Australian School of the Year.

The gala event was held at the exquisite Fullerton Hotel in Sydney and hosted by Australian comedian, radio and television presenter Merrick Watts, and serenaded by SongDivision, a talented Australian band who have played with some of music’s biggest names, from David Bowie to Beyoncé.

Partnering with The Educator for the second year in a row was Education Perfect, a curriculum aligned teaching and learning platform for Years 5-12 students, teachers and parents.

Ian Pedler, the Head of Australia for Education Perfect, said the profound and transformative impact of teachers and the work they do cannot be understated.

“In celebrating teachers and the power of education, we acknowledge the profound impact they have on shaping the future of our society,” Pedler told The Educator.

This year, the Australian Education Awards introduced the new category of CompliSpace Best First Nations Education Program, which recognises schools that have fostered positive physical and mental health for Indigenous students.

“We are proud to support the inaugural Best First Nations Education Program award,” Rachel Partis, Head of Customer at CompliSpace, told The Educator. “This award shines a light on the many creative and meaningful programs that nurture First Nations identity and culture to provide quality education in an inclusive environment.”

Taking home the Award was Marble Bar School, located in Western Australia. The school was recognised for its groundbreaking Virtual Worlds program, which won an international gold medal at the 2022 Australia Pacific ICT Awards (dubbed “the Oscars of innovation in ICT”).

At the end of the night, the national award for Education Perfect Australian School of the Year went to Cook School, a specialised K-12 school that provides specialist support for students impacted by complex trauma, mental health conditions, behaviour difficulties and autism spectrum disorder.

“We didn't even know we were up for the Australian School of the Year Award, so that was a total shock for us,” Cook School principal David Hobson told The Educator.

“For special education setting to be considered Australian School of the Year is potentially a first ever, so we're absolutely blown away.”

In the Individual Awards category, the top accolade went to Barker College principal Phillip Heath, who took home the Education Perfect Australian School Principal of the Year Award.

“Considering the talent in Australian schools, to even be recognised among them is an enormous honour,” Heath told The Educator.

“This Award is a tribute to the outstanding people with whom I work, and the wonderful community of the school that I have the joy to lead. It’ also an enormous affirmation of what I’ve been dedicated to for my entire my life, and something for which I think I was born – to care for people in a community.”

The Educator is particularly grateful to all of this year’s judges and extends a special thanks to the award sponsors, Education Perfect, Grok Academy, Ideagen CompliSpace, AFL Schools, Soprano Design, A Team Tuition, and Prime Super for supporting this event and for the recognition of educational excellence.

See here for the full list of both winners and Excellence Awardees  – and be sure to check out the Australian Education Awards website for more footage of the night’s action.