Bunbury Primary School named Australian School of the Year in national education awards

Headshot of Carly Laden
Carly LadenSouth Western Times
Bunbury Primary School principal Shane Doherty, centre with Associate Principals Franca Dillon and Adriana Palermo, and students Ava Gibson, 7, and Tyson Pitts, 11.
Camera IconBunbury Primary School principal Shane Doherty, centre with Associate Principals Franca Dillon and Adriana Palermo, and students Ava Gibson, 7, and Tyson Pitts, 11. Credit: Carly Laden/South Western Times

A South West primary school principal has expressed great pride in his school’s holistic approach to education and long-standing positive culture, which has helped them shine bright on the national stage.

Bunbury Primary School was recently named the Australian School of the Year during the Australian Education Awards, which took place in Sydney last weekend.

The school also beat out schools from the Eastern States to win the Australian Primary School of the Year (Government) award to put them in the running for the overall award as well as the Best Use of Technology award.

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Principal Shane Doherty told the South Western Times it was very much a surprise for a relatively small primary school in regional WA to be recognised in the midst of limited Western Australian representation.

“To take out the awards, it just made it more special to stand out amongst the competition we were up against,” he said.

“It was just unbelievable.

“For Western Australia to do well in such a national award with the limited representation we had, it speaks highly of what we know about education and about the schools in WA.

“I know that there are many other schools but I know we are a damn good school and I don’t back away from that.”

Mr Doherty said he was surprised by how emotional he became when Bunbury Primary School won the overall award.

“I had to go outside for a while, I was surprised with how emotional it made me feel,” he said.

“As people were leaving, there were so many people that came over and congratulated us so I thought it was a very supportive group of educators who recognised and appreciated just how special it was.

“The reason the school is as good as it is, is because of everybody here from the associate principals to the teachers and other staff that take on a holistic approach to education.

“Academic performance is important, we cater for sporting performance, we push the arts very heavily and the social development programs really make a difference to the culture of the school.

“All of these things and people help contribute to building and maintaining a culture that has been here for a long time, long before I started here 18 years ago.”

Mr Doherty also felt humbled and touched by the amount of comments on social media from parents of former and current students singing their praises of the school.

“That’s more powerful than anything because it’s the people who’ve had their children come through the school and acknowledge how good the school was,” he said.

“We do what we do because that’s what we do.

“It’s heartening to find out that what we do is better than the norm and it’s been acknowledged because often in a lot of employment and careers, it’s thankless and these people know that we’re doing something special.”

Year six student Tyson Pitts, 11, said it felt “amazing” to find out his school won the awards and was sure the rest of the school felt the same way.

“Everybody is so kind and friendly all the time and whenever you need help there’s always someone there who can help you,” he said.

“I think this award was well deserved and it’s just great for the school.”

Year two student Ava Gibson, 7, who loves a lot of things about Bunbury Primary School, said she felt very proud.

“I think it was wonderful to be the best school of the year,” she said.

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