Release type: Joint Media Release

Date:

National reading blitz for all young Australians

Ministers:

The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Prime Minister of Australia

A new national reading blitz for all students between Foundation and Year 3 is set to be launched next year to help tackle falling literacy standards and prevent thousands of Australian children from falling behind in their schooling.

The Federal Government will ask all schools, in every sector and every state, to sign up to an intensive three-year program as part of the National Plan for School Improvement, as part of the national crusade to make Australian schools among the world's best by 2025.

We want every school to focus on using the right teaching methods, specialist teacher skills and data about student progress to make sure that all kids are reading well and reaching the right standards early in their schooling. Teachers would identify and help struggling children, and parents, employers and community groups asked to help support students to improve.

Reading is a core skill that all students need to succeed in school and beyond. Yet too many Australian students aren’t getting the basics in place in the crucial early years of their life.

Around 75,000 students failed to meet national minimum standards in NAPLAN last year. Without improvement, that number could climb to more than 150,000 by 2025, when the children starting school this year will complete Year 12.

And in last year’s Progress in International Reading Literacy Skills (PIRLS) results, Year 4 students came 27th out of 42 countries taking part.

This isn’t good enough. We need to do more to get the basics of reading in place in the first years of schooling, so that every Australian student can read confidently and proficiently to help them progress through their education.

We can learn from the success of teachers and schools around the country which have improved literacy results, helped by programs like the Numeracy and Literacy National Partnership.

We want to see schools focus on the reading skills of all their students from the first day of school, and step in with extra help and resources as early as possible.

As part of the blitz, schools will be asked to adopt evidence-based strategies such as:

  • Teachers will maintain a 'running record’ on the progress of each student to ensure no student slips through the cracks. This would include regular diagnosis of student progress throughout the year.
  • Schools will set out in their reading plan how they will teach reading, including through phonics and phonemics, and what methods they will use to identify students at risk of falling behind.
  • Schools and school systems will provide parents and carers with simple learning methods they can use at home to support their child’s reading. For example, parents could get a list of basic teaching tips or access to interactive digital resources.
  • There will be more opportunities for parents and community members or organisations to volunteer in classrooms and share their love of reading with young children.
  • Schools can hire community engagement experts to organise parent workshops, helping build their skills and understanding of reading and literacy.
  • Improvements in early years reading would be included in schools’ annual reporting, and schools will be asked to share information about successful strategies.

Under the National Plan for School Improvement there will be more money flowing into all school systems from next year, as part of our new and fairer school funding model.

We will ask education providers to use this additional funding to support the reading blitz, supporting techniques and activities which are known to improve student learning. This might include paying for intensive training for teachers, buying new resources or hiring specialist staff where needed.

Around 1.1 million students across the country will benefit from this renewed focus from next year.

Our plan will give teachers and schools the resources and support they need to focus on the reading skills and needs of students as they start their schooling journey.

Parents will also have the reassurance of knowing that if their child needs extra help with their reading, that help will be available.

The Government will work with state and territory governments, and the non-government school sector, to finalise the National Plan for School Improvement and reading blitz in time for the 2014 school year.

Prime Minister's Press Office: (02) 6277 7744

Minister Garrett's Office: 0409 490 741