Parents, pen to paper! In Barker’s Leslie Hall on Monday evening, around 150 parents were writing, just like their children had been doing in seminars during Barker’s Inaugural Rhetoric Week. Parents gathered to learn how to support their children’s writing with Dr Ian Hunter, Founder of The Writer’s Toolbox.

Dr Hunter asked parents what barriers their children encountered with writing. Responses such as “low confidence in writing”, “where to begin” and “how to structure a narrative” were recalled. To demonstrate the techniques from the workshops he had held with their children, Ian asked participants to write about any topic for five minutes. Heads down, parents were writing!

Parents read their piece to another person and discussed. Ian then gave a concise and informative list of 5 types of sentences that increase writing fluency. Parents rewrote their piece, this time using the explained sentence types; the simple, the very short, the W-start, the adverb at the front, and the Em-dash sentence. Parents’ writing was transformed.

Sharing the before and after exemplars of student writing from Barker this week, Dr Hunter showed parents how just these few sentence rules improved writing. Through practice with the Writers’ Toolbox, Barker students can improve writing to create interesting and impactful work. This software is available to all year 7 and 8 students and uses A.I. to analyse writing and give instant feedback.  

Parent comments include “It was an entertaining forum. Importantly, very helpful tips were communicated and will benefit the students as much as their parents.”

If you would like more details about Writer’s Toolbox, head to

Barker Institute wishes to thank Greg Longney, Director of Teaching and Learning at Barker who invited Dr Hunter to present to students as part of Rhetoric Week.

Susan Layton

Susan Layton is a Research Administration Assistant with the Barker Institute. After completing a double degree in Arts and Business from Deakin University, she studied Mandarin in Taiwan under a graduate scholarship awarded by the Australian Vice Chancellors Committee. She has worked for Government and private business in Asia, the UK and Australia. Susan is excited about the opportunity to approach current and future issues facing education from a research perspective.