Queensland adopts state-wide approach to teaching reading in schools - Education Matters Magazine
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Queensland adopts state-wide approach to teaching reading in schools

Reading Challenge 2020

Queensland state schools are set to take a consistent state-wide approach to teaching reading that reflects the latest research and has a strengthened focus on phonics.

Queensland Education Minister Ms Grace Grace visited West End State School today to announce the Queensland Reading Commitment. It is backed by a $35 million investment and builds on the work principals, teachers, teacher aides, and learning support staff already do, ensuring they have access to the latest research to inform their teaching of reading.

“Literacy and numeracy are the essential foundations for a student’s journey through school. Being able to read is a fundamental life skill – it is a core to all learning, no matter the subject,” she said.

“That’s why fostering a love of reading early on is so important, whether it’s reading books at home or the play-based learning that happens at kindy.”

There is a growing body of research providing clearer guidance on the most effective and efficient way to teach reading. The updated version of the Australian Curriculum, which will be used in all Queensland schools by 2025, provides clearer guidance on teaching the essential components of reading.

Phonics involves explicit teaching of the sounds for each letter and groups of letters in a planned and logical order. Teaching students this letter-sounds relationship helps them to read.

Grace said the Queensland Reading Commitment will strengthen the state schooling system to ensure every child can realise their potential.

“We want to give every child the best start in life, no matter where they are in Queensland: that’s what sits at the heart of our Equity and Excellence Strategy.

“Lots of our schools already teach phonics, but this will be an increased focus on teaching the vital components of reading in a particular order, reflecting the latest research about what works best for students.”

The $35 million investment includes:

  • More support for students in the classroom, with the specific support needed identified as the program rolls out
  • Cutting edge professional development programs and masterclasses through the Education Futures Institute
  • A comprehensive suite of reading materials including guidelines, resources, and advice
  • Sharing best practice through demonstration schools, and mentoring from in school expert reading leaders
  • Increased engagement with parents and families about helping their children with reading and the importance of starting before school
  • Advice about reading difficulties and disorders through a Reading Centre, which has already provided thousands of families with support
  • Strengthening key check points, including the use of the Year 1 Phonics Check
  • Capability development and masterclasses for teachers and teacher aides
  • Working with universities to prepare preservice teachers
  • Working with registered training organisations (RTOs), such as TAFE Queensland, so teacher aides can have their professional development recognised through formal qualifications

The Queensland Reading Commitment was developed in consultation with educators and key stakeholders. Thirteen schools helped co-design the commitment, including West End State School, with nearly another 50 trialling it over the past few months.

“Our partnership with the central office has yielded remarkable improvements in our students’ engagement and achievement in reading, particularly in the early years,” West End State School Principal Tony Maksoud said.

“I’m in no doubt that our department’s dedication to ensuring a consistent, evidence-based teaching approach will guarantee that every student, regardless of their location, background and circumstance, fulfills their reading potential.”

Changes will be implemented in a staged approach, with an initial intensive focus on Prep, Year 1, and Year 2. Schools will share further information directly with their school communities, and parents and families will be invited to information sessions to learn more about the commitment and how they can help their child foster a love of reading outside the classroom.

More than $23 million per year is already provided directly to schools, based on need, to improve literacy and numeracy. Over 1,100 specialist learning support roles and more than 500 specialist staff, such as speech language pathologists, work with students who need additional support.

Queensland Association of State School Principals (QASSP) president Mr Pat Murphy said the state’s principals and teachers welcome the department’s new position on reading.

“This approach is underpinned by evidence-based practice and provides schools, teachers, and parents with greater clarity on how to teach reading effectively,” he said.

“Reading is the key ingredient in helping a child unlock their potential. This new position statement provides greater precision for teachers to the way they will teach reading in this state in order to enhance their teaching practice.

“QASSP supports the implementation of a strong and evidence-informed position on how to teach reading successfully for every student. Principals welcome the additional resources provided with the strategy and the comprehensive suite of reading materials that supports the implementation of the new strategy”.

A copy of the Reading Position Statement, the literature review, and other resources including access to the Reading Centre and an information sheet for parents and families can be found here.

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