The Australian College of Educators (ACE) has awarded the prestigious 2020 College Medal to all Australian teachers in an unprecedented move that acknowledged the extraordinary challenges educators faced in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Traditionally the College Medal, which has been conferred on education heavyweights like Dr Michele Bruniges, ACER chief executive Professor Geoff Masters and Anthony Mackay, is given to one individual annually who has made an outstanding contribution to the Australian education landscape that year.
However, as 2020 drew to a close, the College Medal judging panel determined that the challenges and “exceptional circumstances” of last year “demanded an exceptional decision”.
“The College Medal recognises outstanding work in any field, level or sector of Australian education,” ACE managing director Helen Jentz said.
“Our panel considered many remarkable nominees for this year’s Medal, but the ACE Board has made an unprecedented decision in an extraordinary year to acknowledge the hard work of all educators in 2020.”
Education was a sector hit hard by the pandemic, with long school closures necessitating new ways of delivering education and assessing students’ work as well as their social and emotional wellbeing. While some of these ‘new ways’ of teaching students have been around for some time, they were an untested medium in many schools and teachers across Australia had to quickly adapt to a new normal – at scale.
“Education has at times been seen to be slow to evolve and adapt, but 2020 has truly shown just how progressive, innovative and incredibly resilient teachers are,” ACE national president Dr Phil Lambert said.
“The College Medal recognises the continued commitment to excellence under challenging circumstances demonstrated by all of Australia’s teachers.”
2009 Medallist Professor Masters echoed Lambert’s adulation for Australia’s teachers in a year characterised by significant challenges and changes.
“The past year has required an exceptional response from every educator and has brought a new level of public respect for the work of teachers everywhere,” he said.
Mackay, the 2006 medal recipient, also lauded the college's decision to recognise the professionalism exhibited by Australian teachers in the face of adversity last year.
“2020 shone a bright light on the education profession to reveal teachers’ passion for, and deep commitment to, their students and their craft," he added.
The ACE was established more than 60 years ago and is touted as being the country’s longest-serving and most prestigious professional body for all educators. It currently has a network of roughly 20,000 individuals.
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