Recent polls have the two major parties in a dead heat and the prospect of a minority government looms large.
Education has been a key battleground throughout the campaign, with both parties having made a flurry of recent policy announcements.
The Liberals’ school spending spree is headlined by a promise to hire 4600 new teachers, put mental health support workers in all public high schools and spend big on infrastructure.
Stokes told EducationHQ that he is guided by a strong belief in the importance of education.
“Education, public education particularly, but all education, is a public good,” he said.
“In economic terms it is what the economists would describe as a public good.
"The idea of a universal, comprehensive, compulsory, school-based education system is a shibboleth of liberal democracies; it's something that we all agree upon.
“From my perspective that is a shared opportunity.
"What young people do with that opportunity is a matter for them, but the provision of that opportunity is a cornerstone of what we believe as Australians, and it's one of the fundamental things, if not the fundamental thing, that governments must provide and must resource.
“Ultimately part of government is the redistribution of resources in society to ensure a measure of equality and education is about equality of opportunity, not necessarily equality of outcome, that's where individual choice and freedoms come into it.
“But in terms of establishing equality of opportunity, education is foundational and if we don't get that right, ultimately society falls apart. The stakes are that high.”
Labor have one-upped the Government’s teacher recruitment plan by promising to hire 5000 new public school teachers, as well as investing heavily in infrastructure and pledging $2.7 billion to fully fund public schools, as recommended by the Gonski Report.
This would be achieved by 2027, Labor claims, making NSW the first state to meet the Gonski Report’s funding benchmark.
Dib said that Labor’s ambition is to replicate the “pockets of excellence” that exist in certain schools.
“For me the vision is about making every single school a great school, and whilst that might just sound like a slogan of some sort, everything that we have to do has to actually be associated with that.
“So how do we make every single school a great school in terms of the academic achievement that it can have? How do we make every single school a great school in terms of the extracurricular activities or the breadth of holistic education that it offers?
“...Because what we're seeing, particularly in New South Wales and even closer into Sydney, is we're seeing pockets of excellence. What I want to do is make sure that it's not just pockets, that there's just excellence everywhere.”
When it comes to education, it seems the major parties have a lot of similar policies.
Both are offering fee-free TAFE places; 700,000 over four years for the Liberals, 600,000 over 10 years under Labor.
Labor have promised to install air conditioning in every public school, the Liberals have promised the same for 1000 schools.
“We are in fierce agreement on a lot of issues,” Stokes said.
"I actually think that's something that the community should celebrate
“Often we're looking for differences between the major parties, but I actually think the strength of our society is often the things that we agree upon and when you think about it, a fundamental platform of both the centre parties, whether it's centre left or centre right, is the foundational role of public education in our community.”
Dib echoed the bipartisan sentiment.
“In terms of the differences between Rob and I, the ideas are that we both want education to be the best and I think if education is the winner, that's a really good starting point,” he said.
“You know, you don't have to be radically different.
"We would make things better and also they'll make things better.
"But you don't just say something radically different so that you can get a headline. Education is far more important than that.”
There are, however, some significant points of difference between the parties.
The Liberals have promised to spend $88 million to put a school counsellor, or psychologist, and a student support officer in every public high school – a policy Labor does not have a direct equivalent to.
Labor, meanwhile, will provide free eye testing for 52,000 primary students.
The parties’ views also diverge on many of the hot-button issues.
State Labor leader Michael Daley controversially praised students attending today’s climate strike, while Stokes and Premier Gladys Berejiklian slammed the protest.
The Liberals banned mobile phones from public primary schools last year, a policy Dib said was unworkable.
“It seems to be a major issue lately.
"When I was first asked about it I said a blanket ban wouldn't work, and I said that because of my experience as a teacher," he said.
“What we need to do is we need to have some really strict rules and regulations and we need to have some strong policies around it, but to just have a simple blanket ban, that's not the way to go.
“It means that we're not putting enough faith in kids or in teachers to be able to manage a situation.”
Dib said that his experience in education gives him a strong understanding of the challenges faced by teachers.
“Every single day we ask teachers to give their very best to the most precious commodity that we have.
"What I can assure you is that I don't forget that, I understand that, I appreciate it, and you should expect the very best from governments,” he said.
“Education is the most important thing that we can offer to our society, and the biggest determinant of a quality education is the teacher.
"I promise you all the support that I can give, to make sure that we have the best education possible.”
Support for teachers is also a priority for Stokes.
“We recognise that teachers are the lifeblood of our education system,” he said.
“Teachers have our absolute support and we will do everything we can to ensure that you have quality teaching environments, that you have excellent pedagogical support and training and ongoing lifelong training.
“We will also do everything we can to relieve the administrative burdens, so you are free to do what we want you to do, which is be leaders of teaching and learning in the classroom.”