Feature Article - Literacy programs in primary schools
Literacy in primary school is supported through the Tasmanian Department of Education's Flying Start program. The program was initiated in 1997, and evolved from the Prep Literacy Program (1994) and the Early Literacy Program (1996). The Flying Start resource is essentially a staffing allocation made to schools to support literacy teaching and learning in kindergarten to Year 2. The resource supports a range of initiatives and programs based on the work of Marie Clay(a). Through the Flying Start resource the following is provided:
- extra staffing resources for primary schools, particularly from Prep to Year 2;
- smaller pupil-teacher ratio for a critical teaching and learning time each day, from Prep to Year 2;
- increased opportunities for teachers to work in partnership through a team approach;
- increased opportunities for teachers and parents to work in partnership;
- assistance for classroom teachers with the key strategies of assessment, planning, explicit teaching, monitoring, recording and reporting;
- additional professional development opportunities for classroom teachers, kindergarten to Year 2;
- programs for parents as children’s first and continuing educators; and
- advice and guidance to school communities to establish quality programs which provide continuity across child care and schooling.
- Reading Recovery is a school-based, early intervention literacy program within the Flying Start Framework which:
- aims to assist students at risk of not achieving literacy benchmarks;
- aims to prevent the difficulties some students have in reaching literacy goals;
- focuses on Year One students who are not developing effective reading and writing processes;
- enables students to become active, independent problem solvers in a short space of time;
- builds on students' strengths, encouraging success and independence;
- approaches the acquisition of literacy holistically; and
At the beginning of each year, children in Year One who are identified as having difficulty learning to read and write are selected for the Reading Recovery Program. Students selected for the program have their classroom literacy program supplemented with daily one-to-one lessons of thirty minutes. The program runs for 12 to 20 weeks with a specially trained teacher.
PROFESSIONAL LEARNING MATERIALS
During 2001-02, Flying Start professional learning materials were developed within the Essential Learnings framework. The materials will have a comprehensive on-line element, currently being developed. Information can be found on the Department of Education web site at http://www.discover.tased.edu.au/literacy.
For more information on literacy please see the Australian Bureau of Statistics publication Australian Social Trends (Cat. no. 4102.0).
(a) Marie Clay is Professor Emeritus at the University of Auckland. Her extensive research in normal and clinical aspects of developmental psychology has contributed to classroom practice in the early years of schooling and prevented literacy problems by early intervention.
- relies on a team approach by the whole school community.