Bulli High School art teachers have been recognised as the state's best, receiving the prestigious Sir William Dobell Art Foundation award for their work with Higher School Certificate students last year.
Head teacher of creative and performing arts, Louise Manks, was astonished to hear her school had been selected for the annual prize in a field usually dominated by Sydney schools.
"I'm still a bit gobsmacked, to be quite honest. It's so nice to see this award going to a non-metropolitan public high school," she said.
The award is designed to recognise the role of teachers in engaging young people in art.
It coincides with Artexpress, an Art Gallery of NSW exhibition of the best HSC works from last year.
Seven Bulli High students were nominated for the exhibition and five were selected to display their work at art galleries around the state.
Ms Manks said her school had a long tradition of excellence in the arts, with at least one student being nominated for Artexpress every year for the past 15 years.
"The award is a lovely affirmation for all the staff and it's reflective of the culture of the school," she said.
"Last year we had three year 12 art classes and we managed to attract a whole range of students.
"The top students do really well - with marks in the top 5 per cent [of the state] - but we're also really pleased that those in the middle, and even some of the more struggling students, achieved above and beyond."
Ms Manks said this success came down to having four passionate teachers who were also practising artists in various fields.
"We have a fabulous arts staff and we work really collaboratively, which is why it's so successful because kids can access not just one teacher, they can access four," she said.
The teachers will receive their award at the Art Gallery of NSW on Thursday at the opening of Artexpress.