Student Sessions 2023

Student Sessions is presented in partnership with the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA).

Join some of the brightest minds in the nation for a compelling and challenging program of talks, specially curated to complement the school curriculum in ways that educate and enlighten.

Led by widely renowned writers and thinkers, each an authority across literature, film, theatre, media, and more, Student Sessions is rich in learning opportunities for secondary school students. The program builds on students' classroom learning, extending their capacity for creative and critical thinking and inspiring a deeper understanding of society, language and storytelling.

Recommended for Years 9 to 12.

You can discover more about the program below or download our brochure for more information.   

Tickets and Booking

Each Student Session runs for 45 minutes. You can create your own schedule of sessions with options to select one, two or three sessions per student. 

Tickets are $10 per student, per session. 

There is one free teacher ticket allocated per event for every 20 paying students. Additional teachers can purchase tickets at student prices. 

You can book tickets to Student Sessions by filling out the online booking form

Make sure you book before Friday 12 May 2023 to guarantee your spot at this not-to-be-missed event.

For more information or if you have any questions contact or call 02 9256 4200.  


10–10.45am Session 1

10.45–11.45am Morning break

11.45am–12.30pm Session 2

12.30–1.30pm Lunch break 

1.30–2.15pm Session 3



In a world that is often socially and politically polarised, we are all in need of advanced critical thinking skills and the ability to both listen and effectively communicate our ideas. Two-time world champion debater and former coach of the Australian and Harvard debate teams, Bo Seo, is an expert at formulating and putting forward his point of view. He is the author of Good Arguments, a guide to what the art of debating can teach us about listening better and disagreeing well. Whether arguing through essays, online, or in person, these tips will help improve the clear and concise way we formulate and communicate our ideas. 

Curriculum links: English


Australia is home to the oldest continuing living culture in the world. It is, therefore, an unsurprising source of great wisdom that can be applied to better our lives. This session will guide us all to a path where we can fulfil our responsibility to care for our place and all things in our place, including each other. Touching on the importance of story, relationships, sharing, learning, leadership and healing from the past, Paul Callaghan is a warm and generous speaker. He is the co-author of The Dreaming Path: Indigenous Thinking to Change Your Life and belongs to the land of the Worimi people.

Curriculum links: Geography, History, Society and Culture


10.45–11.45am Morning break



2023 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio. We continue to study his work and mount his plays but is his work still relevant? What is it that keeps us coming back for more? We look at contemporary adaptations and re-interpretations of the Bard’s works and analyse their success in connecting with and drawing new audiences. Laura Murphy is the composer and writer of The Lovers for Bell Shakespeare, a pop musical reimagining of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Joanna Erskine is the Head of Education at Bell Shakespeare. As a playwright, she writes in-school adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays for Bell Shakespeare’s Players and recently premiered a new Australian work, Rosaline, a reimagining of Romeo and Juliet from the perspective of Romeo’s forgotten first love.

Curriculum links: English, Drama

11.45am PLAN(ET) B

Through his new book, Dr Matt’s Guide to Life in Space, Dr Matt Agnew explores the qualities that make planet Earth special before moving ahead to traverse what we’re beginning to know about other special places for life in the solar system. And what about beyond, in other star systems? How do we even begin to look that far away? Dr Matt Agnew is more than a scientist and a self-confessed ‘Space Nerd’; he’s a communications powerhouse who helps to make science, maths and technology fun and accessible for everyone.

Curriculum links: Science


12.30–1.30pm Lunch break



The canon of books we study at school and university includes classics both old and new, but are they all equally compelling? What makes a book or a text interesting and relevant to study in today’s age, from Year 7 to undergraduate levels? Taking into consideration aspects of popular culture and some elements of contemporary literary theory, expert educators Michael Parker and Fiona Morrison discuss the best type of texts for current secondary and tertiary students, offer a few suggestions, and review what makes some texts such rich study material. Michael Parker is Headmaster at Newington College. Fiona Morrison is an Associate Professor in literary studies at UNSW. Together they have written Masters in Pieces: The English Canon for the Twenty First Century and a forthcoming book on critical thinking.

Curriculum links: English


There is a lot of scary and depressing discussion surrounding climate change and the fate of the planet. Is it all doom and gloom? Isn’t it time we focused on the solutions? Dr Joëlle Gergis is a climate scientist and the author of Humanity’s Moment: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope. Saul Griffith is an engineer and inventor, and author of The Big Switch, a detailed blueprint for dealing with climate change using technology. Former journalist Claire O’Rourke is the author of Together We Can, an examination of everyday Australians doing amazing things to give our planet a future.

Curriculum links: Geography, Earth and Environmental Science

For more information about Student Sessions, please contact us:

(02) 9256 4200