Wednesday, April 24, 2024

New reading chapter for Queensland schools

Queensland state schools are set to take a consistent statewide approach to teaching reading that reflects the latest research and has a strengthened focus on phonics, Education Minister Grace Grace announced today.

The Minister (pictured) visited West End State School today to announce the Queensland Reading Commitment, which she says will be backed by a $35 million investment.

“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,” she said.

“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. 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.

“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.

“Our Queensland Reading Commitment will strengthen an already great state schooling system to ensure every child can realise their potential.”

The Minister said there was 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, she said.

“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,” said Minister Grace.

The investment announced today 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 our 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 our teachers and teacher aides;
  • Working with universities to prepare preservice teachers;
  • Working with RTOs, such as TAFE Queensland, so our exceptional teacher aides can have their professional development recognised through formal qualifications.

The Minister said the Queensland Reading Commitment was developed in consultation with educators and key stakeholders, with 13 schools helping to co-design the commitment, and close to another 50 trialling it over the past few months.

“Changes will be implemented in a staged approach, with an initial intensive focus on Prep, Year 1, and Year 2,” said Minister Grace.

“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.”

Queensland Association of State School Principals, Pat Murphy said 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”.

Queensland Teachers Union President, Cresta Richardson said the union looked forward to continuing to work with the department and schools regarding what individual support they need.

“The QTU welcomes the additional resources to support the capability development that the department will provide to support teachers and schools as we move to implementing the updated curriculum,” she said.

United Workers Union Public Executive Director, Sharron Caddie said the union and its thousands of teacher aid members were “excited” to be part of the Reading Commitment.

“The investment in capability and professional development for teacher aides is particularly welcome and builds on the government’s commitment to increase hours for teacher aides,” said Ms Caddie.

“Teacher aides play a critical support role in teaching children to read in the early school years and this commitment will improve their capacity to provide that vital educational support in schools across Queensland.”

Mark Breckenridge from the Queensland Secondary Principals’ Association also welcomed the new reading direction.

“We welcome the development of a strong and evidence-informed position on teaching reading through the curriculum,” he said.

“We all know the importance of effectively teaching reading to our students and the comprehensive suite of reading materials will be invaluable to our Queensland teachers and schools.”

P&C Queensland CEO, Scott Wiseman said the organisation welcomed the commitment Queensland was making to using a reading approach that was backed by strong evidence.

“One of the most rewarding and important achievements in a child’s education is learning to read,” Mr Wiseman said.

“We want all children to experience success with reading, preparing them for a bright future.”

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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