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Guiding Tracks: Literacy and the Indigenous Learner, a teacher professional development resource

Christine Dickinson
Education Officer Literacy, Catholic Education Office Melbourne

Guiding Tracks: Literacy and the Indigenous Learner, a teacher professional development resource aimed at improving the literacy outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in Victorian Catholic schools.


In March 2002, the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria (CECV) launched Guiding Tracks: Literacy and the Indigenous Learner, a teacher professional development resource aimed at improving the literacy outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in Victorian Catholic schools. It is designed to assist school communities to implement a mainstream literacy program which is inclusive of Indigenous Australian cultures. The package contains a booklet and a video, that have been sent to all Victorian Catholic primary and secondary schools.


Policy and strategy background

The National Aboriginal Education Policy (AEP) (1989) established the standard for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in Australian schools. The AEP refutes the notion that gaps between the success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and mainstream students are expected and acceptable. Working with this and subsequent policies, the CECV has initiated many strategies including Guiding Tracks.

The Guiding Tracks materials direct school communities and teachers to consider the following questions:

  • How do we support the literacy achievement in Standard Australian English of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students?
  • How do we respect and support the cultural identity of these students?
  • How do we create and implement an Indigenous culturally inclusive school curriculum?
The Guiding Tracks resource booklet provides a framework for the implementation of an Indigenous Australian linguistic and culturally inclusive curriculum that promotes the development of literacy in Standard Australian English (SAE).


About the booklet

Section 1. Guiding Tracks: Policy and Strategy Contexts
This section provides key extracts from national policy statements, strategies and reports that have significantly influenced the development of Guiding Tracks. It also outlines the CECV response to Indigenous Australian literacy education.

Section 2. Guiding Tracks: Learning Contexts
This section offers two background information papers:
1. The Language of Identity - explores a range of issues related to the linguistic backgrounds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

2. An Indigenous Australian Culturally Inclusive Curriculum - invites school communities to establish an environment where positive links between schools, families and Koorie communities can flourish.

Section 3. Guiding Tracks: Professional Development Activities
Three key areas of professional development activities are developed in this section.
1 Community focused activities - identify social, educational and economic background factors that school communities need to consider when implementing an Indigenous Australian culturally inclusive curriculum. This section invites schools to develop meaningful partnerships with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

2 School focused activities - emphasise the diversity of Indigenous Australian cultures that are represented in Victorian Catholic schools.

3. Classroom focused activities. - examine many practical suggestions for teaching and learning activities and for selecting culturally appropriate resources.

The Appendices provide support materials on the following:
1. The Aboriginal Education Policy (AEP) 21 National Goals.
2. Language Culture and Viewpoint: Issues of Terminology.
3. Recommended Resources and Reading.
About the Video:
The video focuses on the cultural and linguistic repertoire that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students bring to their learning. The speakers are predominantly Koorie. Their incisive comments provide a rich resource for staff discussion.

The video can be viewed as a whole, or appropriate segments can be selected independently according to a school's particular needs. Below is a list of the video segments:

1: Inclusive Education for Indigenous Australian students
2: Koorie English
3: Home, School and Community Partnerships
4: Culturally Inclusive Schooling

The implementation of this strategy has been supported by a substantial professional development program across all Catholic Victorian dioceses.

KLA

Subject Headings

Aboriginal students
Catholic schools
English language teaching
Literacy
Victoria