Top 10: Rebecca West shortlisted for US$1m Global Teacher Prize

Top 10: Bonnyrigg Public School deputy principal Rebecca West.
Top 10: Bonnyrigg Public School deputy principal Rebecca West.

The Global Teacher Prize was set up to recognise one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.

And Fairfield's own exceptional teacher has made the top-10.

Bonnyrigg Public School deputy principal Rebecca West has been shortlisted for the US$1 million Global Teacher Prize which are presented by the Varkey Foundation in partnership with UNESCO

Mrs West was selected from more than 8000 nominations and applications from 121 countries around the world. The winner will be announced on November 10 via a virtual ceremony taking place at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris.

Her two YouTube channels Clever Pickles and Talkin' Chalk have been utilised by students and teachers not only in Australia but across the world during the COVID-19 pandemic as a source of games-based learning.

Inspired by mathematics ambassador Eddie Woo - who has been recognised previously by the global awards - the channels have developed into a support network while students have not able to attend school with more than 20,000 subscribers across the two channels and some videos racking up more than 100,000 views.

Mrs West, the school's former Aboriginal educational coordinator, has refined the school's professional learning structure to create a succinct method for teachers to collect and analyse student data to ensure student success for a student body that has more than 70 per cent of pupils from a language background other than English, including many who arrived in Australia as refugees and more than 20 per cent of Aboriginal students.

At the end of 2020, despite the pandemic and remote learning, 77 per cent of kindergarten students measured at or above expectations in reading and 85 per cent in both writing and numeracy.

Mrs West specialised in special education after witnessing the struggles of her sister who was bullied at school and slipped through the cracks of the system, years later being diagnosed with aural dyslexia. She made it her mission to ensure all students are known, valued and cared for - a commitment that was strengthened when two of her own children were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

When she made the top 50 Mrs West said said she was excited at getting a "global opportunity" to showcase the "amazing work" happening in her school.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for my school community to demonstrate the commitment we have all maintained to the continuity of learning, throughout lockdown and remote learning, and how we remain connected to support students, teachers and families," she said.

Rebecca West reading to Bonnyrigg Public School pupils.

Rebecca West reading to Bonnyrigg Public School pupils.

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, said: "Congratulations to Rebecca for reaching the final 10. Her story clearly highlights the importance of education in tackling the great challenges ahead - from climate change to growing inequality to global pandemics."

  • The other top 10 finalists for the Global Teacher Prize 2021 are Breanna Heels from Canada, Bryant Acar from the Philippines, David Swanston from the UK, Diana Lorena Rubio from Mexico, Evans Odei from Ghana, Juline Rault from France, Keishia Thorpe from the US, Ana Mara Stelman from Argentina and Soraya Motaharnia from Iran.