A new Literacy Guarantee Unit has been established in the Education Department, delivering on the Marshall Liberal Government’s 100-day commitment.
The unit will be charged with improving the state’s education system by giving all students a strong foundation in literacy.
Ms Ingrid Alderton, a respected educator with significant experience in the field of disability education, has been appointed to manage the unit and will lead a team of 13 new literacy coaches to support South Australian schools.
With a Masters in Disability Studies, Ingrid has held key roles in the Australian Association of Special Education since 2002 including the SA Chapter President, national councillor, state secretary and committee member.
The Literacy Guarantee Unit will deliver a range of measures, including:
- intensive courses of professional learning to be delivered to more than 500 primary school teachers annually
- support for the 500 trained teachers to train others in the new skills they have learnt
- conferences providing professional development opportunities for teachers; and
- direct coaching for teachers, including support in teaching explicit synthetic phonics.
The model to deliver the work will be developed in consultation with organisations such as SPELD and Dyslexia SA, along with well-respected academics.
Education Minister John Gardner said the establishment of the unit was a critical step in delivering a strong foundation in literacy that will give our children the best possible start to their education.
“We are delivering on our election commitment to build a strong foundation in literacy so our students can achieve the best learning outcomes,” said Minister Gardner.
“A strong start in literacy is the essential foundation upon which a student’s subsequent educational success is built.
“To improve our education system as a whole, we must put literacy first for all students.
“Unfortunately, 2017 NAPLAN results put South Australia lowest in eight of the 20 categories and second lowest in another eight.
“The new Literacy Guarantee Unit will be central to help schools improve the literacy skills of young South Australians so they can succeed in their schooling and in life.
“Phonics is one of the ‘big six’ reading components and an important foundational literacy skill.
“Our schools must deliver the best possible literacy program that meets the needs of all students, including students with dyslexia and other learning difficulties.
“With expertise in these types of learning difficulties, the unit will ensure that our schools are well placed to support those students who need extra support to be able to achieve strong literacy outcomes.”
The establishment of the unit complements other aspects of the Literacy Guarantee policy already being delivered by the Marshall Liberal Government, including:
- a Year 1 phonics check in all schools in Term 3 this year
- increased support for breakfast programs in schools; and
- working with non-government organisations such as the Smith Family and Raising Literacy Australia to support literacy programs in the early years.