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For Head of Primary (K-6) Mary Semaan, the release of NAPLAN data has been met with a quiet sense of satisfaction.
Students at Al Sadiq College have seen a consistent and marked improvement in NAPLAN writing scores ever since turning their focus to writing three years ago. And now their 2022 results have been even more impressive.
Al Sadiq is a two-campus K-12 Muslim Alawite school in South Western Sydney, with all of its students coming from non-English speaking backgrounds.
“Our Year 3s achieved ‘tips of the arrow’ in NAPLAN writing for the very first time,” Semaan shares.
“More than 50 per cent of our students in both Year 3 and 5 are sitting in the top 2 bands.
“For the first time also, many of our Year 7 students have hit the top band in writing. Many of these students are not our usual top performers,”
“We are absolutely thrilled with these results.”
With over 1.2 million students sitting the test across our country, NAPLAN provides a unique opportunity to gain a national snapshot of student achievement.
The national results for 2022 have shown that in general, NAPLAN scores have remained quite steady, with no signs of the drastic drop in literacy and numeracy originally feared after COVID.
But Al Sadiq seems to have found the secret to not just maintaining results, but improving them year on year.
When she joined the school in 2018, less than 25 per cent of students across Years 3-6 were able to compose a ‘satisfactory’ piece of writing. Mary and her team aimed to not just improve student writing, but also impart a love for it.
So she and her colleagues researched evidence-based practices to support them, choosing award-winning program, Seven Steps to Writing Success, to invest in.
A whole-school writing program which aims to unleash student creativity and confidence, the Seven Steps offers a unique and explicit model for teaching writing.
Created by professional author of 20 books and former teacher, Jen McVeity, was on international tours around the world talking to aspiring authors when she went back to her teaching roots: ‘I realised the concepts I was teaching to adults worked perfectly for kids!’
And it has worked so well for the students at Al Sadiq. Semaan shares, “Seven Steps to Writing has allowed our students to write in sequential steps, build their vocabulary and extend their creativity.”
Since inception, over 45,000 teachers have been trained in the Seven Steps approach, with over 2 million students across Australia are learning the authorial techniques that make such a difference.
And educators love it – Seven Steps has just been voted by teachers as the Primary Publisher of the Year 2022 and has just won The Educator’s 5-Star Service Provider Awards 2022.
‘We have a clear vision for the Seven Steps and that is to support schools and teachers to transform writing for life.’
Jen McVeity, Seven Steps creator
McVeity notes, ‘The Seven Steps approach empowers students to become great writers, which will help them do their best in NAPLAN, but most importantly, to become our next generation of great communicators. A critical twenty-first century skill.’
Al Sadiq’s students are seeing successes far beyond NAPLAN or any test. Mary says, “The most surprising achievement was one of our Year 2 students submitting a very creative piece of writing in the NESA Write On competition, and winning a Stage 1 silver award.”
For Mary Semaan and Al Sadiq College, the results speak for themselves.
Since 2019, Seven Steps has provided a framework for teaching their students the authorial skills that create great writers and great writing. Qualities that NAPLAN rewards. “Seven Steps has given our amazing students and teaching team the strategies to go for gold!”
Article originally published in Education Review.