An innovative pilot program designed to boost remote students’ literacy and numeracy has been backed with a further $4.1 million from the Turnbull Government, following the release of an independent report highlighting its positive impacts.
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the additional $4.1 million would extend the Flexible Literacy for Remote Primary Schools pilot into 2018.
“The Turnbull Government’s $4.1 million funding boost will help build the evidence of how effective Direct Instruction (DI) and Explicit Direct Instruction (EDI) can be for the literacy of students in remote Australia,” Minister Birmingham said.
“We’ve backed DI and EDI since we came to government because we could see its potential.
“The independent analysis highlights the ‘green shoots’ coming through in the literacy skills of students that have been involved in the program.
“We want to continue to look at the impact the pilot is having. No program can be expected to turnaround entrenched literacy issues overnight but there are early indications of improvements in some literacy measures as well as anecdotal feedback from the teachers and principals who have been involved.”
Minister Birmingham said it was clear there were a range of factors influencing the impact of the program including student attendance, how closely schools are following the course structures and high teacher turnover in regional and remote schools.
“It’s clear more work needs to be done to refine how DI and EDI are delivered in different school environments,” Minister Birmingham said.
“By extending our funding into 2018 we’re giving the pilot the opportunity to address some of the issues the independent evaluation has highlighted.
“We know there can be significant hurdles for students in regional and remote areas and for students from Indigenous backgrounds.
“In addition to the $23.8 million we’ve invested in this pilot to date, the Turnbull Government has been investing record and growing funding in regional and remote schools.
“We’re committed to tackling the results gap between remote and city schools. Under our new schools funding plan we’re boosting investment in regional and remote schools from $3.9 billion in 2017 to $7.2 billion in 2027 to ensure they have the resources they need to overcome some of the challenges and barriers students in those areas face -that’s annual funding growth of 4.9 per cent on average for regional and remote students compared to 4.1 per cent across the general population.
“Under our plan the additional support for Indigenous students will jump by 49 per cent over the next four years. But the Turnbull Government understands that student outcomes aren’t based just on how much money is spent, but how it is spent.
“That’s why we’ve asked David Gonski to lead a panel of education and policy experts to review how schools should be using the extra resources we’re delivering. That advice will complement the Independent Review of Regional, Rural and Remote Education we’ve commissioned to consider the key challenges for students and how to boost their outcomes in study and training and ultimately, employment.
“I look forward to hearing the progress of the pilot as it continues next year and will continue to work with the different school sectors on strategies and programs proven to boost student outcomes.”
Good to Great Schools Australia has been managing the pilot program which is currently operating in primary schools across the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
The independent evaluation of the program was conducted by the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Program Evaluation and will help inform any decisions about the future direction of the program.
A copy of the evaluation report can be found at: https://www.education.gov.au/flexible-literacy-remote-primary-schools-0