Literacy skills rising. Student confidence and engagement soaring. Bunbury Primary School in Western Australia is bucking the trend of declining writing.
This regional Western Australian school uses whole school approaches to improving educational outcomes; implementing a range of innovative, evidence-based programs to effect change.
Last month their hard work was celebrated on a national stage, with Bunbury Primary taking out the coveted ‘Australian School of the Year’ and ‘Primary School of the Year’ in the recent 2022 Education Awards, which recognise years of dedication to enhancing school culture and educational experience.
Curriculum leadership in supporting classroom teachers is a shared responsibility across Bunbury Primary School and is led by the Associate Principals – Franca Dillon and Adriana Palermo – and key teacher leaders.
School Leadership Team and Level 3 Classroom Teachers
In 2016, Bunbury Primary focussed on the challenge of tackling student writing skills.
“Like a lot of other schools, our writing data needed improving. We researched what was the best writing resource out there that was evidence-based and effective. Seven Steps to Writing Success was the program that reflected our whole school practices,” Franca Dillon, one of the Associate Principals, said.
The Seven Steps approach, designed by author and educator Jen McVeity, explicitly teaches the writing skills that professional authors use.
Since its inception, more than 45,000 educators across Australia have been trained in the Seven Steps. And educators love it – Seven Steps has just been voted Primary Publisher of the Year 2022.
With over 2 million students having been taught how simple, powerful and fun writing can be, Bunbury sought the same for their students.
They undertook whole-school professional development with the Seven Steps in 2016 and again in 2019, participating in interactive workshops where teachers learned the secrets to this authorial approach to teaching writing.
“We implemented Seven Steps, and not long after you could see a definite shift in our school writing data. We believe one of the key reasons was the excellent professional learning and practical strategies that could be easily implemented, Adriana Palermo, Associate Principal, explained.
By empowering teachers with the skills to unlock writing potential, the school has seen student confidence and engagement soar and some outstanding results.
Where previously Bunbury’s data showed writing needed improvement, now it’s one of the school’s strengths.
“Seven Steps is an excellent resource that our teachers value and utilise to support their writing programs,” Dillon said.
Taking a whole school approach with strong leadership has ensured long-term success at Bunbury. Their focus on coaching and mentoring, collaborative planning and fidelity checks on the quality of teaching, implementation and integration across the curriculum have meant that both teachers and students are reaping the benefits.
Year 5 student, Charli, with classroom teacher Jodee Whittaker from Bunbury Primary School. Charlie entered the Seven Steps Informative Writing Competition in 2021 and her engaging submission was selected for publication in the new Informative Writing Manual.
The Seven Steps program itself has also received multiple accolades this year, with creator Jen McVeity taking out ‘Most Influential Educator 2022’, the company winning Primary Publisher of the Year 2022 and the Seven Steps online platform Teacher Hub being Highly Commended for Primary Teaching Resource of the Year at the Educational Publishing Award Australia.
A small Western Australian school and an innovative writing program make an award-winning combination.
“At Bunbury Primary School we are dedicated to improving student outcomes and teacher engagement. Seven Steps to Writing Success has been a key resource to support our school to keep striving for improvement,” Principal, Shane Doherty, said.