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An electronic journal for leaders in education
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Literacy – the Key to Learning: Framework for Action 2006-2008

Special report

The following article is an abridged and edited version of the report Literacy–the Key to Learning: Framework for Action 2006–2008 newly released by the Queensland Government.

 

The Queensland Government has launched a new blueprint to boost student literacy skills in government state schools. Literacy–the Key to Learning: Framework for Action 2006–2008 is to provide P–9 classroom teachers with intensive training in the teaching of literacy, including the teaching of reading, grammar and spelling.

The framework is based on two key documents. Queensland State Education – 2010 (QSE–2010) described rapid changes in our economy, the world of work, communities, and civic and family life that have significant implications for teaching and learning and the way schools operate and create particular challenges in implementing effective literacy programs. The Literate Futures Report of the Literacy Review for Queensland State Schools proposed a strategic plan for literacy. The plan was underpinned by an understanding of diverse Queensland school communities and a commitment to literacy improvement and innovation. The Framework for Action identifies the key priorities and areas for focused action emerging from these documents.


Four key challenges

1 Literacy teaching – to increase professional knowledge and skills in teaching literacy

There is a need to build on each teacher’s repertoire of approaches to the teaching of literacy. A balance of skills approaches (including the systematic teaching of reading, writing, spelling and phonics skills), whole-language approaches (including the scaffolded and contextualised teaching of reading comprehension), genre approaches (including the explicit teaching of texts and grammar) and social-critical approaches (including the purposeful teaching of critical literacy) will be required.

There is a need for teachers to align the teaching of literacy with curriculum, learning and assessment. New literacies combined with traditional literacies create significant challenges for many teachers. There is a need for the professional development of teachers so they can systematically monitor students’ progress in learning literacy over time. There is also a need to provide opportunities for teachers to reflect on their teaching and assessment practices as they teach literacy in the curriculum. This includes processes for evaluating the effectiveness of their interventions for individuals and diverse groups of students.


2 Literacy learning – to assess, track and improve literacy learning outcomes for all students in the context of diverse backgrounds and abilities

There is increasing diversity in the student population and students bring with them to the classroom rich and diverse languages, dialects and literacy skills. The combination of poverty with diversity (for example, gender, ethnicity, location and disability) creates one of the most significant challenges for literacy teaching in the 21st century. There is a need to value and acknowledge the language and literacy that students bring from their homes and communities. There is also a need for every student to master Standard Australian English and the literacies they need for success in school and beyond.

The early identification of children with difficulties is crucial. It is also important to understand that early literacy intervention is not of itself sufficient to secure improved literacy outcomes.

There is a need to help schools monitor and use data collected from state-wide literacy testing. Likewise, there is the need to support schools to integrate this information with school-based assessment evidence.

There is a need to develop a literacy learning profile for each student that will form the basis for identifying specific, appropriate and effective literacy interventions. This literacy learning profile also responds to the need for portable assessment information as a student moves through schooling.


3 Literacy in the curriculum – to improve literacy capabilities for learning in all areas of the curriculum

Students must become literate in different areas of the curriculum across the phases of learning. Literacy demands in the curriculum interface with a body of knowledge such as a key learning area or a subject. For example, after undertaking investigations or experiments in science, students may need to write reports using specialised text and language structures, vocabulary and graphics that are specific to constructing knowledge in science and that may not be learnt in other subject areas. If these literacy demands are left implicit and not taught explicitly, they may become barriers to learning.

There is a need for school and regional leaders to ensure that all teachers see literacy teaching as part of their repertoires of essential skills. There is then a need for all teachers to take responsibility for the literacy learning of all their students.


4 Literacy leadership – to enhance curriculum leadership

While it is acknowledged that schools have teachers with literacy expertise, it is imperative that literacy leadership in schools is provided by heads of departments and principals. It is also acknowledged that principals require support from other curriculum leaders to take up this leadership. Executive directors (schools), regional executive directors, and assistant directors-general have a role in providing this support.

There is a need to raise curriculum leaders’ understanding of the relationships between literacy, curriculum, learning, teaching and assessment. This will enhance their capacity to support their own and teachers’ professional development. There is a need for curriculum leaders to develop systems and cultures that focus on teacher professional development and to disseminate examples of effective classroom practice across the entire school community. There is a need for principals to build positive cultures and articulate high aspirations and expectations in their schools for all students to succeed.

There is a need for curriculum leaders to support the professional development of their teachers by making informed decisions about the allocation of resources, time and space for teachers to reflect on and improve effective teaching practice.


Ways forward

The Framework document includes a detailed set of actions that have been developed to respond to each of the four identified key challenges. Literacy–the Key to Learning: Framework for Action 2006–2008 will be overseen by a departmental steering committee, including the Assistant Director–General (Curriculum) and representatives from Regional Executive Directors, Executive Directors (Schools), Strategic Human Resources and Learning, Education Queensland Strategic Management Team and the Curriculum Branch literacy team. The steering committee will support, facilitate, monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Framework for Action and report outcomes of the Framework to the Minister for Education and the Arts.

 

KLA

Subject Headings

Literacy
Educational planning
Education policy
Assessment
Leadership
Curriculum planning
Professional development
Queensland