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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
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The South Australian Early Years Literacy Program

Early Years Literacy Team
Learning Outcomes and Curriculum Group, Department of Education and Childrens' Services, South Australia

During terms one and two 2005, five thousand preschool to Year Three educators and leaders across South Australia met to plan The Early Years Literacy Program, a three-year focus on literacy for young children.

The Early Years Literacy Program involves a number of strategies.

One hundred and eighty teachers, recognised as effective teachers in literacy, have been trained to undertake a mentor role in their school. They are working alongside their classroom colleagues to model and guide effective literacy teaching approaches.

Funding has also been provided with the program to support one-to-one targeted literacy intervention. In order to maximise the use of these funds, educators and school leaders are encouraged to engage in joint planning, programming and review processes. In this way all participants have the opportunity to develop shared understandings about literacy practices, learning goals and effective use of evidence and data.

The Reading Recovery intervention program has been expanded. Schools have been strongly encouraged to consider how they could use this approach when implementing one-to-one targeted intervention for Year One children. Two additional tutors have been appointed to support the training of further Reading Recovery tutors.

Running records will be used across the State to assist in developing a consistent method for collecting data about reading knowledge and skills. In term one 2005, 200 teachers from a state-wide sample of schools were trained in how to take a running record.

Funding has also been allocated to improve the child-staff ratio in preschools that have significant number of Aboriginal three-year-olds. This funding will provide resources to support improved learning outcomes for Indigenous learners.

Evaluation of the Early Years Literacy Program has already commenced, and includes data collected during the initial core professional learning days. Analysis of the data collected is informing ongoing development.


The design elements

Five design elements underpin the program. These elements are providing a shared focus for professional learning at sites (schools and preschools), as they develop their Early Years Literacy Plans. Over the next three years, all sites will use the design elements for planning and reporting. These design elements, selected after consultation with academics and researchers, provide a framework which is now generating whole-of-site and district conversations.

The design elements are:

  • Effective teaching and learning for young children
  • Professional learning and leadership
  • Working within the community
  • Whole-site commitment and focus
  • Effective use of evidence and data.


Links to the SACSA framework

The South Australian Curriculum, Standards and Accountability Framework (SACSA) provides the Department of Education and Children’s Services policy context for literacy in the early years. SACSA defines literacy as the ability to understand, analyse, critically respond to and produce appropriate spoken, written, visual and multimedia communication in different contexts.

All of the resource materials being developed for the Program will make clear links to the SACSA framework. The program and the SACSA framework share some common underpinning theoretical understandings and perspectives, such as the conception of children as strong and powerful learners, constructivism, and literacy as a social and cultural practice.


The Multiliteracies Map

A key component of the program is a conceptual framework known as the Multiliteracies Map. The Map was developed through a research project funded by the Australian Research Council, involving Associate Professor Susan Hill from the University of South Australia, Professor Nicola Yelland, and the South Australian Department of Education and Children’s Services. The project involved teacher researchers exploring the ways ICT was being used by children aged between three and eight years.

The Multiliteracies Map assists educators to observe how children develop as functional users of multiliteracies, make meaning from a range of texts, critically analyse all forms of texts and then take the skills and knowledge to design and produce new texts that transform the skills. It helps educators to incorporate new technologies of today into their literacy curriculum.

It is expected that the Multiliteracies Map will be used by educators as a planning, assessment or observational tool to analyse children’s work. It can also be used as a reflective tool for educators to consider whether they are providing a comprehensive literacy curriculum.

Four workshops will soon be available for educators to learn more about mapping multiliteracies. These sessions will focus on using the Map, community connections, creating multimodal texts and online literacy resources. The Map can be found on page 10 of the research report Mapping Multiliteracies: Children of the New Millennium.

An Early Years Literacy Program website is currently being developed and will be launched in August. Please contact the Early Years Literacy Team on 08 8207 2210 for more information, or email Margaret Sankey, Manager of the Early Years Literacy Team, sankey.margaret@saugov.sa.gov.au.

Key Learning Areas

English

Subject Headings

South Australia
Primary education
Literacy
English language teaching
Educational planning
Education policy
Early childhood education
Curriculum planning
Aboriginal students