A love letter to my public school education.

I wouldn’t trade it in for the fanciest private school in Australia.

My high school wasn’t pretty.

It looked like a particularly dreary prison, thanks to the wonders of 1970s architecture.

Our uniforms? A heinous combination of baby poo yellow and mission brown.

And because the government wouldn’t spring for adequate heating or cooling, we shivered through winter and sweltered through summer.

“My high school wasn’t pretty.”

But you know what? None of that matters. Not one goddam thing.

Because my public school education gave me something far more important than optimal temperature regulation, manicured lawns or expensive excursions.

And I wouldn’t trade it in for an education at the fanciest private school in Australia.

In my 13 years of public school education, I can count on one hand the number of mediocre teachers I had.

The rest were exceptional – and I lived in a country town in the middle of nowhere with a slightly dodgy reputation, so teachers weren’t exactly arm-wrestling to land a position there.

Sure, every school and every teacher is different, and it’s possible I just got very, very lucky. But I doubt it.

Check out these Aussie celebs who also went to public schools. Post continues after gallery.



Because people don’t become public school teachers for the status or for the huge salaries.

They do it because they genuinely care about education, and about their students.

That’s why every day, I’m grateful for my public school education.


I’m grateful to Mr Roach, who taught me German, but also to “never, never, never give up”.

I’m grateful to Ms McKellar, who brought Ancient History to life through passionate re-enactments in the classroom.

I’m grateful to Mrs Casey, who taught me Community and Family Studies, but also that “special friends do eventually turn up”.

I’m grateful to Mrs Wiseman, who taught me English, but also the importance of preparation and attention to detail.

And I’m grateful to Mr Payne, who taught me Legal Studies, and the value of being intrinsically motivated (as well as making me seriously consider a legal career).

In my 13 years of public school education, I can count on one hand the number of mediocre teachers I had.


No, we didn’t have the resources of exxy private schools – but that just meant we learnt to be self-reliant and independent.

It wasn’t a high-status school, but that meant the teachers were more concerned with us, their students, rather than hanging on to some precious ranking on a ladder.

I went to school with kids from incredibly diverse backgrounds (people I’m still very close with today), which meant I was exposed to people from all walks of life.

And my teachers ran special classes before school, gave up their lunch breaks to talk through grades and pulled us aside to chat about our personal lives if they noticed something was up.

What I’m saying is – they cared. Big time. And it made all the difference.

My teachers cared – and it made all the difference.

I’m not having a go at private schools AT ALL. It’s a personal choice, and I have many friends and relatives who loved their private schools as much as I loved my public ones. But what I do know is that my schools were the best possible choice for me – and I can’t imagine I would have squeezed one more drop of value out of a private school.

When I did the HSC, my school outperformed the local private school and ranked far above many other private schools in the state, which backs up studies that show that students don’t necessarily perform better at private schools, and that top public schools consistently do better than private schools (even with far less funding).

I’m so, so proud of my little school that no one from the city has ever heard of.

I’m so proud of my teachers, who did everything they could to teach us about the curriculum, but also about life.

And if I could go back in time? I’d still make the same choice.

Cheers, Wade High.


Did you go to a public school? How did you find it?


Need a laugh? Check out Australia’s favourite honorary public school girl, Ja’mie King.

Video via “Chris



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