Read about how staff at Westminster Junior Primary achieved huge impacts in literacy for students in years K-3. Sharon Walton, Literacy Leader explains what changes occurred and how this impacted on their student results.
Literacy Learning for All
Literacy Leader at Westminster Junior Primary School
Unique characteristics of WJPS
Westminster Junior Primary School is a unique k-3 school in a low SEI area with a diverse school community. At the beginning of our change management process we recognised that we were fortunate to have many experienced teachers with good pedagogical practice occurring but there was no whole-school approach to early childhood instruction.
Need for change
Our NAPLAN results showed that WJPS had a significant number of students below the minimum standard and at minimum standard. We had higher expectations of our students! It was clear that we wanted to make an upward shift in our results. At that time Westminster Junior PS was not working under a distributed leadership model. It became apparent that our target was twofold:
- lift students’ results; and
- identify leaders within the school and put money and time into the distributed leadership model.
Big 6 Literacy Focus
We began with a Big 6 literacy focus. 2 teachers were trained and continue to be supported through the North East Metropolitan Language Development Centre to become literacy leaders within the school.
A literacy WAVE intervention strategy was devised. WAVE1 consisted of in class literacy support; WAVE2 differentiated small group literacy intervention 4 days per week and WAVE3 was implemented for individual students with significant language deficits.
Education Assistants were identified for their skill set and extensively trained and supported to run the synthetic phonics ‘Letters and Sounds’ intervention program, as well as work shadowing speech pathologists and collaboratively working with speech students. Staff were given professional learning on whole school evidenced based assessment tools and how to use discipline dialogue to support student performance.
Phonological Awareness and semantics rotations have been implemented in the kindergarten and Pre-primary classes. An explicit synthetics phonics program and lesson sequence has been implemented in k-3. Teachers are resourced and provided with modelling, small group support and professional learning on phonics, semantics, graphic organisers, comprehension, sight word & spelling strategies and oral narratives utilising icons. At WJPS we use the gradual release model of ‘I do, we do, you do’ learning with a strong focus on the oral to literate model. These programs are embedded in our current daily practice and are part of our strategic planning.
Partnerships continue to be extremely important for our success and sustainability of our processes. New and graduate staff are supported with professional learning both in-house and externally with our partners.
Now we’re on to numeracy!
Our intervention strategy for literacy is so successful that we have applied the same principles to numeracy. Our sustainable distributed leadership model has been extended to include Numeracy, ICT, NQS, Science, EALD and Performance Management.
Our expectations of our students and staff are very high. Not only did we want to move our under achieving students but to also move our middle of the road students and extend our high achievers to even greater results.
Our NAPLAN results are extremely impressive. The school is now performing above like schools in literacy. Reading, writing and spelling results are particularly outstanding, between 1.2-1.8 standard deviations above the expected result! This is credited to strong, capable and collaborative leadership, whole school focus and targeted intervention.
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