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Expert help in literacy on the way

17 March 2004

Media Release

Expert help in literacy on the way

School children with severe reading and writing difficulties are being targeted by a new group of specialist teachers.

Nearly 100 teachers from around New Zealand will be the first to graduate this Friday from a two-year diploma programme. Auckland College of Education led a consortium with Christchurch and Dunedin colleges of education to train the teachers under a Ministry of Education initiative.

To celebrate the milestone, Prime Minister Rt Hon Helen Clark will attend the ceremony, and Dame Marie Clay, who pioneered the acclaimed reading recovery programme and who was on an advisory committee for the programme, will deliver the graduation address.

Creation of specialist “Resource Teachers:Literacy” was recommended by the Government's Literacy Taskforce. The teachers are appointed to school clusters, to work with primary-aged children with literacy difficulties, and with their teachers. This may include children from transient backgrounds, those who have missed out on Reading Recovery or pupils with learning and behavioural problems.

"The focus is on raising levels of oral language, reading and writing," says
Dr Libby Limbrick, the programme’s national director and Head of Centre of Language and Languages at Auckland College of Education. "The programme draws on specific strategies proven through research to turn around literacy achievement. It articulates the oft-heard philosophy that ‘there is no such thing as a child who cannot learn, but there are children for whom we have not yet found the best way to teach’.”

Faye Parkhill of Christchurch College of Education and John Smith of Dunedin College of Education were regional project directors and academic staff of all three colleges were involved in delivering the programme.

Of the 92 graduates of the Graduate and Postgraduate Diploma in Literacy Education, 82 will attend the ceremony this Friday at Auckland College of Education, starting at 11am. The graduates come from all over New Zealand.

ENDS

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