Sydney teacher rated among Top 10 in the world

A NSW teacher’s commitment to lifting student performance has put her in the running for a prestigious global award.

15 October 2021
Image: World beater: Rebecca West in the classroom prior to COVID lockdowns.

Bonnyrigg Public School deputy principal Rebecca West has been named a top 10 finalist for the prestigious Global Teacher Prize.

Ms West was selected from more than 8,000 nominations and applications from 121 countries to be among the finalists for the Varkey Foundation-sponsored award.

“I was shocked when I found out I had made the group of finalists,” Ms West said.

“There are so many amazing educators who are worthy of such high recognition for the innovative and caring work they do for students.

“Being in the Top 10 highlights the wonderful opportunities we have as Australian teachers to make a significant difference to the lives of our students and communities.”

Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell congratulated Ms West and the school for the accolade.

“After an incredibly challenging time for everyone in the education system, it is wonderful to see such dedication being recognised on a global scale,” Ms Mitchell said.

“I congratulate Rebecca on not just being shortlisted for this award, but for more than two decades of exceptional work.

“As a teacher and mentor, she is a role model to students and colleagues alike and is a prime example of the drive and passion being exhibited amongst the 90,000-plus teachers in NSW.”

NSW Department of Education Secretary Georgina Harrisson said the acknowledgment was a win for NSW and Australia.

“The NSW Department of Education is one of the largest providers of public education in the world – and teachers like Rebecca deserve recognition for lifting results and putting students on a positive path for the future,” Ms Harrisson said.

“The commitment to delivering the highest standards of learning, regardless of location or circumstance, is what public education is all about.

“Bec’s YouTube channel ‘Clever Pickles’ has certainly become a firm favourite in my household during this learning-from-home period. Her expertise is available for all of us to benefit from and her dedication to her profession is second to none.”

A 22-year teaching veteran, Ms West has driven results and positive change for disadvantaged children through a range of innovative approaches to learning.

With a sister who was later diagnosed as having aural dyslexia and with two children of her own on the autism spectrum, Ms West has long been determined to see that all student needs are met.

Her Kindergarten to Year 6 school is in a multicultural community in Sydney’s southwest and serves people from low socio-economic backgrounds, including refugees, those fleeing domestic violence and families traumatised through separation.

Ms West and her colleagues have helped to create social, behavioural and academic interventions to give students a safe and engaging place to achieve their best.

She has helped drive results by refining the school’s professional learning structures so teachers can collect and analyse student data and focus on holistic and inclusive education.

At the end of 2020, despite the pandemic and remote learning, 77 per cent of kindergarten students at Bonnyrigg Public measured at or above expectations in reading, 85 per cent in both writing and numeracy while 95 per cent of her class achieved their end-of-year numeracy targets early.

A tech innovator, Ms West also uses play-based, experiential, STEM, and games-based learning to develop their writing and reading skills.

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