Literacy and Numeracy Week Awards
National Literacy and Numeracy Week NSW Nominees 2007
- Berne Education Centre
- Christian Brothers' High School, Lewisham
- Coonamble High School
- Dee Why Public School
- Empire Bay Public School
- Erina High School
- Holy Family Primary School, Emerton
- Holy Family Primary School, Menai
- Kangaroo Valley Public School
- Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Primary School, Terrigal
- Presbyterian Ladies College, Armidale
- St Agatha's Catholic Primary School
- Warnervale Public School
- Warrawong High School
- Westdale Public School
- Wiley Park Public School
The Berne Education Centre at Lewisham is a school for at-risk secondary students. Teams work intensively with behaviourally and emotionally challenged students and with students who do not fit into traditional mainstream settings. All of the students have been previously expelled or suspended. Some have even attended over twelve different schools. All of our students have experienced school failure and many have failed academically. In 2006, the school introduced the Corrective Reading Program, the Spelling through Morphographs and comprehension-based strategy instruction were introduced in a pilot program that was initially trialled with only two students.
After six months, the effect of the program on the students' academic ability, behaviour, willingness to engage with academic tasks and self-concept was easily observed by all staff. The program was extended across the school and is now an integral part of the way the Centre operates. The testing of the students showed that those who did receive explicit and systematic instruction in decoding were the only students who made literacy gains, despite small group instruction.
Christian Brothers' High School, Lewisham's Paragraph Power program was developed out of the school's participation in a Literacy and Numeracy in the Middle Years of Schooling Initiative Forum. The specific skill addressed in the program is the writing of a descriptive paragraph chosen on the basis of recent NSW state-wide test results. The program was implemented across Years 5-8 and involved explicit and systematic teaching, student mastery, cumulative review, immediate feedback, visual stimulus, humour and ICT integration. A number of elements of paragraph writing were taught in twenty-two fifteen-minute segments.
Results indicated that the program was highly successful in improving boys' writing as measured by external exams, pre- and post-criterion tests and teacher feedback. Implementation has continued and expanded to all Key Learning Areas. Paragraph Power has been presented at meetings and conferences which has seen it adapted by many other schools. Development of the program includes an exciting joint venture with Macquarie ICT Innovation Centre to produce an online version.
Coonamble High School is a small, isolated, rural school, centrally located within the Coonamble township drawing students from a large area between the Warrumbungle Mountains and the Macquarie Marshes in Western NSW. Many strategies to improve student's literacy skills have been in place since 2004; however, a number have been added since, such as Transition to High School, hearing and vision assessment, Year 7 induction meetings, Links to Learning and In-Class Tuition.
The continual development adds to the variety of literacy programs available and provides a much broader and more dynamic base to our over-arching literacy program. All programs are regularly reviewed, evaluated and modified to meet the changing needs of the students. Following the success in increasing students' literacy levels, numeracy will become a focus using similar programs and strategies.
Dee Why Public School has an enrolment of 227 students in nine mainstream and two special education classes. It is a very unique school for the Northern Beaches region in that 78% of the student population comes from a non-English speaking background. The school has had an interest in the teaching of writing from Kindergarten to Year 6 for several years with increased focus in the last three years. The Early Learning Initiative project incorporated all areas of literacy including talking and listening, reading and writing.
However, with significant gains made in the teaching and learning of reading, teachers soon began to focus on the teaching of writing in particular. With the wide multicultural background of our students, it was believed that writing and language understanding could be enhanced from the ongoing strengths gained in other skill areas. Subsequently, there have been significant improvements in student writing outcomes and the added value as demonstrated by student growth over time.
Erina High School is a proudly comprehensive school on the Central Coast of NSW with an enrolment of 1034 students. It is a welcoming, friendly school where partnerships with parents and the wider community enrich and add value to school life. A broad range of innovative learning and co-curricular programs are delivered with teachers committed to quality teaching, effective pastoral care and fair discipline in order to develop confident, articulate and resilient young people.
A strategy was initiated in 2006 to develop a cohesive multi-faceted approach to improve the numeracy skills of students as indicated by performance in the external SNAP and School Certificate tests. The numeracy co-ordinator formed a numeracy team to promote a whole-school, cross-curriculum approach to numeracy and improve the numeracy outcomes of students with emphasis initially on Stage 4 and later inclusive of Stage 5 students. This multi-faculty team approach helped to build a common belief that numeracy, like literacy, is the responsibility of all staff members.
Empire Bay Public School, located on the Central Coast of NSW, embarked on a whole-school journey in 2004 to improve numeracy outcomes for all students. Literacy at the school had always attracted honour as the subject with the highest priority. On investigating the school culture, it became increasingly evident that numeracy needed to be promoted to equal status. The overcrowded curriculum had forced numeracy to a lower priority level and to counter this, an initiative called Maths No Matter What was implemented.
Total commitment from staff, parents and students and other local schools for this initiative was imperative. In tandem with the implementation of strategies based on research findings and best practice methods, the school decided that Monday to Thursday were to be Maths No Matter What days. No one is permitted to interrupt the timetabled 'Maths group hour' on these days. The highly successful initiative resulted in outstanding growth from Year 3 to Year 5 in the 2006 NSW Basic Skills Test.
Through professional learning, enthusiasm and a commitment by the entire school community the way in which students were taught and learnt literacy skills has been transformed. The staff realised that in order to meet the needs of students now and in the future, it was essential to implement a new way of looking at the teaching of oral language, reading and writing. This, supported with rich learning tasks using technology, has resulted in significant improvement in both teacher skill and student learning.
The implementation of a home reading programme for Indigenous students clearly improved language and reading skills. Careful assessment, planning and intervention have lead to improvements in the language skills of each of the students.
Holy Family Primary School is located in Menai in southern Sydney with an enrolment of 804. A standardised Mathematics program pro forma was introduced across the four streams in the school with particular emphasis being placed on pre- and post-testing, tracking students, the creation of higher order activities and developing the language of Mathematics.
A numeracy coordinator was appointed and a Numeracy Project Team formed. Now K-6 numeracy programs are planned collaboratively each term for each grade. Explicit teaching occurs around a daily one-hour numeracy block and each student in Years 1 and 2 is interviewed twice annually to allow comparisons in their development to be made. Clear improvement can be seen in students' skills, confidence and application.
Kangaroo Valley Public School is a small rural school approximately 150 kilometres south west of Sydney. Quality reading and writing programs are informed by data and directly focused on achievement of learning outcomes for all students. Extensive Kindergarten screening identifies potential strengths and/or weaknesses as early intervention greatly improves outcomes in later years. Individual Learning Plans are created for students identified with support needs and Individual Literacy Plans explicitly target reading and writing learning for Stage 2 students who need support. Volunteer tutors give additional one-to-one support delivering individual programs while other community helpers deliver programs that are strategically focussed and well-prepared.
All school assessments show students K-6 have improved their literacy skill target areas of reading, writing and language. Regular monitoring of students' skills using assessment tasks, Running Records and diagnostic tests ensures consistent focus on achievement of syllabus outcomes.
Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Primary School is located in Terrigal with an enrolment of 437 students. A series of strategies begun in 2005 based on diagnosing students' needs, professional learning, consistent classroom practice, parent education, using ICT and making Mathematics visible within and outside the classroom have lead to significant improvements in numeracy skills in a cohort of Stage 3 students.
Tertiary partnerships were established and parental involvement was focussed on a series of workshops and an Open Classroom during Numeracy Week. Further partnerships were established with neighbouring schools for the sharing of ideas, particularly in relation to transition to high school.
Presbyterian Ladies College, Armidale is an all-girls school from K-12 with a co-educational Early Learning Centre. The primary school has an enrolment of 310 students. Students' results indicated a need for a more structured and sequential phonological approach to the teaching of decoding and spelling. The aim was to continue to use a variety of effective teaching practices already in place in the teaching of literacy, with a focus on explicit teaching of phonological skills within a balanced literacy program.
The strategies and initiatives began in 2005 and continue to develop and evolve as student learning is constantly monitored and evaluated. Through the initiatives of a balanced literacy program, a purpose-planned timetable and in-class literacy support, the highly effective staff has implemented a program that has resulted in improved literacy skills for all students.
St Agatha's Catholic Primary School is a K-6 co-educational school located at the foot of Sydney's growing Hills District. The main ethnic group within the school continues to be Lebanese who now include second and third generation families. The school-wide approach to mathematics pedagogy outlines a consistent model of learning and managing effective and sustainable change. It also provides a high interest context for mathematical learning within all stages.
This metacognitive approach provides a framework for the development of mathematical thinking skills where children are encouraged to articulate and record their thinking and to describe the 'how and why'. The overall aim of this long-term project has been to improve student achievements in numeracy and build teachers' professional knowledge, skills and expertise. Consistency of practice is now clearly evident from Kindergarten through to Year 6.
Warnervale Public School is located in a rapidly developing area on the Central Coast of NSW. Having a strong reputation for high achievement and excellent attitudes to student learning, Warnervale Public School promotes and supports a family-orientated atmosphere of positive relationships between students, parents and staff. The school has embraced a program of school improvement in the teaching of Mathematics.
An independent evaluation of the program found that the Count Me in Too program was having a significant average effect on Year 3 numeracy performance in the schools in which it had been implemented. This model was used in 2001 and became a catalyst for teacher self-reflection and the culture of teaching of Mathematics in the school.
Since 1999, the staff have worked collaboratively on a series of unique projects designed to both improve student literacy and also foster social harmony and unity within the local community. The WACKI (Warrawong and Community Kids Images) film festival was born in 2002, when it was established that students from Warrawong High School had a need in the area of visual and cine literacy.
The project involves approximately 200 students from Years K-12 with many films being produced across age range groups. Now in its fifth year, the aim of this year-long project has been to improve pedagogy and enhance student learning through focusing discussion and teacher reflection on teaching practices that increase student engagement and seek the highest education standards for students of all backgrounds.
In 2004 Westdale Public School staff embarked on a three-year numeracy learning journey to raise the bar on expectations, student performance and achievement. The staff developed a team approach to a total learning experience through a three-year cyclic process of evaluation, improvement in classroom practice, development of resources, assessment and reporting that was relevant to the teaching and improvement of numeracy for all students. The staff had a clear understanding that the Basic Skills Test results were the responsibility of all teachers K-6 and that strategies implemented to raise the bar would be for all students across the school.
The school linked the numeracy focus with the Teaching and Learning Cycle, involving ongoing evaluation, planning and programming, classroom practice and assessing and recording. The success of this achievement is a testament to the collaborative team commitment of all Westdale staff.
Wiley Park Public School has a population of 525 students with 96% of the students from language backgrounds other than English. More than 50 cultural groups are represented within the school community. Beginning in 2003, the school developed an innovative literacy program which has achieved previously unattainable results that are reflected in both external and internal data measuring instruments.
The initial trial in 2003 focused on two classes and, over the ensuing three years, was extended to encompass all targeted students in Kindergarten to Year 2. Raising expectations of staff, students and the community have been crucial to the success of the program which is expanding to meet the learning needs of Years 3-6 students.