2014 Showcase Awards for Excellence in Schools Gala Dinner
Thank you, Minister Langbroek, for your kind introduction. As Governor, I take a great personal pride and interest in education in this State. This interest began in my very early years as the child of school-teacher parents working in government schools in regional Queensland, and it continued during my many years in the law, but, in the two months since I was sworn in as Governor, it has given me particular pleasure to be able to reach out to schools and reinforce the work they do by welcoming school groups to Government House, and by making visits to schools.
In August, I had the entire student population of Ilfracombe, Windorah and Muttaburra State Schools in my study at Government House – all twenty-two of them! – and I have recently had the privilege of taking part in landmark celebrations at two State schools: Goondiwindi State School, which this year is marking its sesquicentenary; and Milton State School which has now been an integral part of inner Brisbane life for a hundred and twenty-five years.
My contact with those five schools is most apposite in connection with tonight’s awards because all five of them have experienced the sense of achievement and surge of pride that comes with being acknowledged through this award system, and the Department of Education, Training and Employment is to be congratulated on maintaining a program which recognises and rewards exemplars of excellence in our schools, wherever they might be in this vast State.
Let me say that I have rarely seen a set of application guidelines as stringent or as long (thirty-one pages!) as those for the Showcase Awards, so my sincere congratulations go not only to the twenty-one finalists who have succeeded at every stage of that demanding six-step selection process, but to every one of the ninety-seven wonderful schools and clusters which won the regional awards and development grants announced during State Education Week in May.
Of course it is the very rigor of the application process which has ensured the integrity of the awards since they were established in the year two thousand. The fact that the awards are now in their fifteenth year is testament both to that integrity and to the high regard in which the awards are held, not only by our schools, but by the community at large, especially by the sponsoring businesses and organisations.
On behalf of all Queenslanders, I particularly thank them for their generous support, and commend them on recognising the importance of fostering a culture of excellence in our schools and of sharing best practice if we are to continue to give young Queenslanders the very best chance of developing their potential and making a contribution to their communities.
I know that the Showcase Board has spent the last two days in the exhaustive (and no doubt exhausting!) process of meeting representatives from each of the final twenty-one schools and clusters, and I am very aware that the finalists themselves, having undergone that nail-biting scrutiny, are now very eager to know whether their entry will be one of the seven to receive a coveted twenty thousand dollar development grant.
So it remains for me, on behalf of all Queenslanders, to congratulate the finalists once again and to thank you all for the warm welcome you have extended to Kaye and me to join you for this marvellous evening.