History of Sunbury West Primary School


Written for the 25TH Anniversary




On the 26th of November 1969, a public meeting was held to discuss the need for a new primary school. The land was purchased in Vineyard Road by the Education Department but was found to be in an inappropriate position by the majority of people living in our area.


At the following meeting, on the 9th December 1969, office bearers were elected and new land selected for purchase, which is our present site.


On the 4th February 1970, the committee and the newly appointed Principal, Mr Brian Shirley, were presented with plans for a six-room school.


On the 17th March 1970, a Mother’s Club was formed, their main purpose being to raise funds for the benefit of the children.

In the first week of February 1971, the gates of School No. 5006, Sunbury West Primary, were opened for the first time. The number of pupils enrolled was 229. This number increased steadily for the next couple of years.



At the end of 1972, Mr Shirley left, and Mr Robert Corkish took over as Principal. At this stage, the second stage of the school, which included the library, was completed.


Early History of Sunbury West Primary

1974 - 1976


At a Public Meeting on 9th December 1969, the current site of the new school SUNBURY WEST was confirmed, and a School Committee was formed.  In March 1970, a Mothers’ Club was formed to raise funds for the new school.

In February 1971, PS 5006 Sunbury West opened under the Principalship of Mr Brian Shirley with 229 pupils in six classrooms. He was granted a part-time Secretary.


Mr Robert Corkish became Principal in 1973.  During that year, the Library and Multi-Purpose, two more classrooms and outdoor covered areas were added.


I was appointed Vice-Principal in 1974 when the enrolments were about 400.  Among the staff at the time were two American Teachers recruited by the Education Department to overcome the shortage of teachers in Victoria. There was only one Specialist Teacher – a Librarian.


In 1976 the second wing containing 7 classrooms and toilets were built on the Cornish St side to accommodate the Infant Section. This released 2 classrooms in the original wing to be converted to an Art Room and a further classroom to become the Staff Room to accommodate increased staffing.


The usual out of school activities took place. On an excursion to Gippsland, the bus developed starter-motor trouble. Whenever we stopped, the driver had to choose a downhill site so that when we started again, a force of 60 pupil power could push start it.  This action was repeated over three days.


We participated in Interschool sport. Football was played on ‘The Evans Street Oval’, now known as the Coles Carpark. An innovative Grade Six Graduation celebration took the form of a film night in Essendon where we saw ‘The Paper Tiger’. An annual event was the Art Show held in the Multi-Purpose Room, and we proudly held a School Concert in the Memorial Hall.

At the end of 1976, the first official School Council was elected. Mrs Shirley Gibson was announced as the new Principal for 1977 with an enrolment of 626.


On December 8th 1976, the School Committee was disbanded, and a School Council was elected.


Peter S. Readman

Vice Principal 



Mrs Shirley Gibson became our new Principal in February 1977. The number of pupils enrolled at that time was 620. The new infant wing consisting of 8 classrooms was completed and ready for use.


On December 14th 1979, Sunbury West Primary School No. 5006 was officially opened by the Hon. Mr N Lacy, Assistant Minister of Education – nearly 9 years after its doors opened.


Mr John W. Smales took up his appointment as Principal in February 1980. Enrolment at this stage was 750 children.


In 1981 Sunbury West became the host school for Sunbury Heights Primary School, and at this stage, there were five 5 module relocatables and three 2 module relocatables on site. Sunbury Heights moved into their new premises in December 1981, leaving Sunbury West with a school population of 430 children.


With the departure of Sunbury Heights Primary School, Sunbury West retained 15 classrooms and three 2 module relocatables which were shifted from the northwest corner of the site to the eastern end of the main building, where they were butted together. With the moving of the portables, the area was barren, and the amphitheatre was planned and executed with many willing workers at working bees.


In September 1984, another 2 module relocatable was moved on to the site, and this, in turn, was butted to the other three.

At the commencement of the 1985 school year, the school population was 462.


In February 1987, Miss Mary Hannebery took up her appointment as Principal. The Keyboard Tuition Program was established with the assistance of Marie DePrada and Ken Owen as a fundraiser for the school. Initially, flute, clarinet, saxophone and drums were taught with the keyboard.


In 1988 Sunbury West was linked up with City Park School in Athens, Georgia, U.S.A, and the children wrote to us about life in America, and our children wrote about life in Australia. On the 4th of July, our school celebrated American Independence Day with a dress-up day. There were Cowboys and girls, Indians, Hillbillies, Statues of Liberty, gridiron players, baseball players, basketball players, rock stars, Uncle Sams, Mammy, a U.S sailor, cheerleaders and even W.C Fields. It was a great year, and we hope that the children of city Park School, Athens, Georgia learned as much about Sunbury West as we did about them. The children also corresponded with schools in Coonabarabran, Stevensville and Brunswick North. Ruth Hyland was the coordinator.

The staff car park in Cornish St. was extended, and another driveway was put in to allow for one way traffic. The office areas in both buildings were upgraded. Schools started with 4 Terms this year, and 472 children attending.


A cyclone wire fence and gates were installed between the oval and carpark in 1989 and a cover over the area between the ‘bag’ room and the portables. Zara Van Rensburg won an art competition and had her mural mounted on the wall outside Coles supermarket at Sunbury Square. (where it can still be seen)


In 1990 the area near the art room and in the junior wing was enclosed. Redgum tables and seats were placed behind the portables and around the oval. The Keyboard Program had stopped the drum tuition in 1989 and woodwind tuition in this year. In the winter of 1990, a letter was sent to D.S.E requesting URGENT oil to gas heating conversion as problems with the heating caused much discomfort. With no positive response received, a decision was made by School Council that children would be dismissed early in inclement weather.


In 1990 – 91 there was much discussion with Bulla Shire Council and Paynes Properties about the land adjoining the school. This land was rezoned residential and light industrial in 1992. The school oval was re-conditioned and the sprinkler system updated, a very time-consuming project.


Mary Hannebery retired on 26 October 1992, and Graeme McIntosh was then Acting Principal until the end of the year. The Grade 5/6 girls netball team coached by Robyn Norris became State Champions. A ramp was proposed for stairs outside room 5, but it was finally decided not to go ahead with this when it discovered that with the slope required, the ramp would go to the G.P. room.


Graham Noonan was appointed Acting Principal for 1993. This year was a year of change with local selection (of Principals etc.) and murmurings of new innovation, ‘Schools of the Future’ and the planning of the Sunbury West Out of School Hours Program. The grade 5/6 girls’ netball team became State Champions once again under the coaching of Robyn Norris. Grade 5M auditioned for ‘Red Faces’ on Hey Hey It’s Saturday and WON. They sang their own version of 12 Days of Christmas and scored a 10 from each of the three judges. After their appearance on T.V Miss Annie Moses, Grade 5M and pets etc., were invited to sing at many venues.


Denise Howes was appointed Principal as part of the local selection process and commenced at the beginning of Term 2 1994. Sunbury West Out of School Hours Program, which became known as W.A.S.P, began on June 6. At the beginning of the year, 2 relocatables were removed to Kismet Park and Sydenham. This year Sunbury West was to develop its School Charter and become a ‘School of the Future'.


1995 was to be a year of challenge with the appointment of Prior and Cheney to advise the upgrade committee and draw up a master plan for the school as well as upgrade the administration and staff areas. This planning was ongoing throughout the year until the committee was satisfied that everything was right. A tender was let and builders appointed. Work began over the Christmas school holidays. The oil to gas heating conversion was to be completed by the start of the 1996 school year, finally!!! The new extension to the junior wing at the northern end houses the offices of Principal, Assistant Principal, Bursar, administrative staff, security room, resource room, first aid room, shower and accessible toilet, conference room and staff room. Room 11 was used in this construction. The office area and staffroom in the senior wing then had to be made into classrooms, and the Bursar’s office and first aid room have become the new keyboard room.


The staff and administration moved into the new extension at the end of Term 1 1996. The new extension used some of the amphitheatre, and a carpark was built with access to Elizabeth Drive. The seating in the amphitheatre and paving have been retained, and a lawn has been planted between it and the carpark. Paths and flowerbeds were finished just before the Back-to in June. It is now August, and the daffodils the children planted in May are now blooming (lovely!!!). The grade 5/6 boys football team have just become State Champions coached by Dean Banova in a grand final at Windy Hill.


History of Sunbury West Primary School

2001 – 2014


The time frame 2001-2014 can be best represented by statements under the following headings:


Growth of Sunbury

During this period, the City of Hume was expanding rapidly, and Sunbury was no exception. From an estimated 26000 people in 2001 to a population of 36000 in 2014, new growth was evident. Our school was accepting large numbers of children each year as the new housing estates filled nearby. Most of our growth came from the Ashfield estate, which was situated opposite Sunbury Downs Secondary College. In 2001 our school population was 517 and grew steadily until the peak enrolment of 570 in 2004. Due to our limited external play area, our school had an “enrolment ceiling” to ensure the neighbourhood children had access to their local school. During recess and lunch breaks, the school ground was a particularly busy place and required some management strategies to ensure it remained safe. As the housing estates filled, the number of available Prep enrolments slowly declined, and at the beginning of 2014, the school population had dropped to 270.


Buildings and Grounds

Apart from our 15 permanent classrooms, the high enrolment numbers required many more extra classrooms. We had 3 x mod 5 buildings along the Cornish Street boundary and another 3 single portable classrooms behind the old toilet block. These served their purpose and were gradually removed as our population slowly declined.


At the beginning of 2002, we received news that our school was entitled to a “Specialist and General classroom “upgrade. The classroom aspect was very straight forward. However, the Specialist upgrade involved the potential development of a new gymnasium and music complex. This required close scrutiny and much discussion. Initially, our gym allocation wasn’t large enough for our purposes. It was decided to investigate the formation of a school co-operative to enable us to borrow money for the extra building space. We completed this task, and with the help of the little known “Interest subsidy grant scheme,” we serviced this loan over the next 10 year period. The money was used to triple the size of the gymnasium and also to elevate the floor of the music room. This provided us with the ability to fold back the doors and utilise the music room as a staging area.

The stage was a great initiative. Our weekly assemblies were conducted in comfort, grade level performances occurred each term, and annual events such as our Grade 6 graduation evening were able to be conducted at school.


The final building development occurred as a result of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008. The Labour Government initiated an “Economic Stimulus Package”, which provided all schools with a new school building. Ours incorporated 6 new classrooms and dispersal space. It is a “state of art” building and allows for 21st-century learning opportunities for our children. We know children learn in different ways and at different rates, and our school now provides children with a range of learning environments for their instruction.



Our school enjoys wonderful support from our parent community. Our school council membership has been fully subscribed on most occasions, we have offered a subcommittee structure utilising parent interest, we have an active Friends Of Sunbury West group, and earlier in the decade, while our enrolments were very high, we also had a Community Relations subcommittee. As expected, declining enrolments have an impact on the availability of parents to assist, and more recently, this is also occurring.


Nevertheless, we have always enjoyed more parents than required to assist us with camps and excursions, swimming programs and even as classroom assistants over the years. We welcome parents to our school and value their contributions in all forms.

We conducted school fetes while we had volunteers, as well as Bush Dances and Mini Olympic type events which were always supported by our parent group. We also celebrated our schools 30th and 40th birthdays in quite different but memorable fashion.



The rigour of education continued to grow throughout this decade. Schools continued to become much more autonomous. Financial management underpinned each schools staffing flexibility. New programs could be initiated once clear direction was established through Strategic Planning. Staff could be appointed if funding was adequate. However, as enrolments decreased, so too did flexibility.


At our peak, our staff profile consisted of:

1 Principal

1 Assistant Principal

4 Leading teachers

4 Specialist staff – L.O.T.E. Indonesian, Art, Music, Physical Education

1 Literacy Co-ordinator

23 Classroom teachers

12 ES Staff


It was during this period that great things happened in Education. For the first time ever, Principals and schools shared a common dialogue, goals were set at a Regional level, and all staff, including the Regional Director, were fully focussed on continual improvement and building the capacity of staff. Professional development reflected this initiative, and many opportunities for professional growth were available. Network colleagues were seen as a source of valuable information, and these years saw the use of comprehensive data sets as a means of measuring the value-added component of children. Real and continuous growth in specific areas was required by schools. We did this through the development of Strategic Plans, Annual Implementation plans and the use of a Performance and Development culture amongst our staff.



Education is challenging. It doesn’t just happen through luck. Schools are busy places with a lot of activity on a daily basis. Timetable changes, teacher absence and interruptions to routine all occur in the cut and thrust of the day. Teachers are required to continually adapt to sometimes difficult situations. Our school has enjoyed a very stable staff. Teachers who work here enjoy our school community and have contributed to it for long periods. As a consequence, our children enjoy an orderly environment with strong discipline and high educational expectations. We have a positive reputation within the Sunbury Community, and our children are proud to say they belong here.


Together we learn

Together we grow


Stephen Taylor




2014 to current Principal - Inga Wilson

Stay tuned...


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