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Me Pānui Tātou Katoa – Let’s All Read


Liz Gordon MP Hon Brian Donnelly MP
Chairperson Chairperson
Education and Science Committee Subcommittee on the inquiry into the teaching of reading in New Zealand

Me Pānui Tātou Katoa – Let’s All Read

Report of the Education and Science Committee on
the inquiry into the teaching of reading in New Zealand

The Education and Science Committee has presented its report on the inquiry into the teaching of reading in New Zealand.

The report contains 51 recommendations to the Government addressing effective teaching practice, teacher education, Maori-medium education, resources, transience and absenteeism, second and third-wave interventions, visual and aural impairment, early childhood education and the role of whanau. The recommendations are appended to this release.

Chairperson of the committee, Liz Gordon, said “the committee believes the Government must clearly articulate what our national literacy goals are and explain how they are going to be achieved. It recommends the establishment of a national body to direct, guide and co-ordinate the various policy initiatives put in place to achieve the literacy goal. The report stresses the importance of the development of phonetic, word-level decoding skills as an element in a balanced teaching of reading programme”.

The Education and Science Committee is holding a press conference to launch the report:

Beehive Theatrette
Tuesday 14 August
3.30 pm

The report can be purchased from Bennetts Government Bookshops or viewed at


For further comment contact: For further information contact:

Liz Gordon MP Louise Gardiner
Chairperson Clerk of the Committee
Education and Science Committee Education and Science Committee
ph 04 471 9526

Hon Brian Donnelly MP
Subcommittee on the inquiry into the teaching of reading in New Zealand
Me Pānui Tātou Katoa – Let’s All Read

Report of the Education and Science Committee on the inquiry into the teaching of reading in New Zealand

The full report can be purchased from Bennetts Government Bookshops or viewed at

Our goal for the teaching of reading in New Zealand is that:

- every child who has the ability will learn to read at the first opportunity

- priority for resourcing of schools is oriented towards achieving this objective

- every teacher has the full range of pedagogical skills and the literacy focus needed to ensure the above objective is met

- policies and programmes be put in place that reduce barriers to learning.

We urge that the following happen:

- The Government must clearly articulate to all interested parties, including parents and the public at large, exactly what our national literacy goals are and explain how they are going to be achieved.

- A re-emphasis must be made on the importance of the development of phonetic, word-level decoding skills in a balanced teaching of reading programme.

- A national body, accountable to Parliament through the Ministry of Education, must be established to direct, guide and co-ordinate the various policy initiatives put in place to achieve the national literacy goals.


We make the following recommendations to the Government about how the reading gap can be closed:

1. That the Government clarify the meaning of the national literacy goal and explain how it is to be achieved.

Effective teaching practice

2. That the Ministry of Education provide leadership, enhance partnerships and support schools to reach the national literacy goal.

3. That a national research project be undertaken, incorporating a ‘stocktake’ of reading strategies used in the classroom and their relative success with particular groups of children, the availability of instruction in decoding strategies (phonics), particularly for those children with poor oral language skills, and teaching methods used for five- and six-year-olds who are not progressing at a rate of reading equal to their peers.

4. That the Ministry of Education provide advice and support to schools to incorporate successful phonics programmes into the classroom.

5. That emphasis be placed on achieving and supporting successful literacy outcomes in the beginning classroom, so that second and third-wave interventions become less necessary.

6. That all teachers in beginning classrooms are provided with a range of appropriate resources to use when any young person fails to make progress.

7. That the Ministry of Education report on the potential success of smaller class sizes in the beginning classroom, and whether such a strategy might significantly lift reading levels among at-risk groups.

8. That by age nine, nearly all children should be reading within or beyond an internationally-benchmarked ‘normal’ range, reflecting the status of New Zealand as one of the most literate nations on earth. Stronger interventions will be needed to ensure this status is not threatened.

9. That the Ministry of Education examine in depth the role, effectiveness, resourcing and availability of second-wave interventions and, in particular, whether resources are being focussed on areas of greatest need.

10. That urgent research is undertaken to assess the actual literacy levels of young people entering secondary school, and the reasons for any literacy delay.

11. That the Ministry of Education use the detailed findings of the Education Review Office to: investigate how early literacy learning, including second-wave interventions, can be more consistently built on in upper primary, intermediate and secondary schools; clarify the role of specific third-wave interventions and of the RT Lit programme; focus curricula onto enhancing ‘reading for meaning’; and investigate how to stimulate continued interest in both fictional and non-fictional texts beyond the early years.

Teacher education

12. That priority needs to be given to establishing a nationally-based competency standard that students from all teacher-training providers must reach.

13. That the Ministry of Education should ensure national consistency of programmes of teacher education and monitoring and assessment of teacher education curricula against national goals.

14. That no person should be able to graduate from a course of teacher education until he or she has been able to establish high levels of competence in teaching of literacy measured against nationally-agreed standards.

15. That pre-service education provide more compulsory time for learning about reading and writing processes and the organisation and management of classroom practice, with a focus on lifting literacy levels.

16. That there be an evaluation of the three­year degree/diploma in teacher education, as recommended by ERO.

17. That the Ministry of Education work with teacher-education providers to ensure that secondary teacher trainees receive adequate training in literacy issues relating to their curriculum area.

18. That the Ministry of Education investigate whether all teacher-education providers include instruction in high-quality assessment techniques for literacy in their programmes.

19. That all primary teacher-training providers incorporate the teaching of phonetic skills and word-level decoding into their programmes.

20. That teacher-education programmes should incorporate a greater emphasis on understanding perceptual difficulties that may impede literacy learning, and provide teachers with strategies and teaching tools for overcoming such problems at the earliest possible point.

21. That professional development opportunities be dramatically improved for all teachers of literacy and, in particular, for teachers of children in areas where schools have high proportions of children at risk of failing to learn to read.

22. That a national professional development programme be developed, designed to empower teachers (initially of five- and six-year-olds) to enhance literacy outcomes. This programme would include the provision of a new and enhanced ‘toolkit’ of resources focussed on diagnosing and resolving learning problems.


23. That while we endorse the high-quality texts available to early readers, the Government should ensure that future materials incorporate text designed to allow for explicit word-analysis strategies to enhance phonic teaching techniques, especially in those resources targeted at Maori, Pacific and migrant groups.

24. That, in line with the overall focus of this report, the Literacy Leadership programme focus on working with principals of schools with significant proportion of children at risk of failure to enhance their leadership skills, empower their decision-making and emphasise the need to overcome low-literacy outcomes among disadvantaged groups. As with professional development programmes for teachers, this programme can be used to introduce new materials and a new focus on central/local partnership to improve reading outcomes.

25. That there be a greater emphasis on the benefits of phonic instruction in Literacy Leadership materials.

26. That the Ministry of Education evaluate the impact of the Literacy Leadership programme.

27. That the school support service be integrated into regional Learning Support Centres with a focus on assisting low-decile schools to improve learning outcomes through high-quality programmes.

28. That the Ministry of Education clarify the function of the RT Lit scheme, including the question of how the Resource Teachers’ time will be split between assistance to teachers and to students, of how RT Lit and RT Lit (Maori) will work together, and the age groups that will be targetted.

29. That all resource and school support staff be employed within regionalised Learning Support Centres and their respective roles be co-ordinated regionally to avoid overlap and gaps.

30. That the Government set up a pro-active and high-profile National Literacy Service within the Ministry of Education to evaluate world-best programmes and offer support and advice to schools and teachers in order to ensure that the 97 percent or more of New Zealand children capable of learning to read effectively in the primary school years do so. Such a body would have the following roles: identification of best practice; collection and dissemination of a variety of information involving literacy teaching; and integration of the delivery of various policy initiatives.

31. That a standing committee of experts be established to monitor implementation of a national literacy programme and to recommend further refinements or developments where this is seen fit.

32. That every school have a literacy leader to support teachers in their day-to-day operations.

33. That either a national or a regional support service be set up to assist and support school literacy services.

Maori-medium education

34. That Maori-medium education needs further investment and support to make up for the shortfalls in qualified teachers, resources, materials and assessment tools.

35. That further proficiency in te reo Maori among teachers should be fostered by a range of professional development opportunities.

36. That an agency be established alongside the National Literacy Advisory Service with expertise in Maori immersion education. The agency should:

 have oversight of pre-service and in-service training for teachers in both the pre-school and compulsory-aged sectors
 identify standards in language proficiency and pedagogical skills
 have formal linkages with other parts of the education system
 be accountable to the Ministry of Education and to Parliament.

37. That there be urgent development of more assessment tools – diagnostic and benchmark – for use in Maori-medium schools. The development of further diagnostic tools must be: clearly linked to teaching programmes; legitimated by Maori cultural processes; and accompanied by appropriate teacher development support.

38. That the production of guidelines for teachers include the development of a continuum of skills in reading, writing and oral language and the extension of the Nga Kete Korero framework.

39. That a separate funding pool for Maori-medium innovations be established and that Maori-medium school materials reflect a more systematic approach to the developmental needs of the learner.

40. That oral te reo Maori formative assessment tools be developed for use by Kohanga Reo.

41. That the Ministry of Education focus some research resources on the investigation of transition issues between Maori and English-medium instruction and use the findings to develop guidelines to assist parental and school decision-making.

National issues

42. That a Ministry of Education work programme dealing with transiency issues be initiated as soon as possible.

43. That in the interim, until new processes can be put in place, schools and resource teachers put a particular focus on assisting children identified as at risk through transience.

44. That a national campaign to counter non-attendance at school be initiated.

45. That, in light of the findings of the Reading Recovery review, the Ministry of Education develop a contestable funding package for innovative second­wave interventions targetted at at­risk children.

46. That the Ministry of Education adopt an inclusive relationship with SPELD, rather than the exclusive one of earlier years and the neutral one of late.

47. That the Ministry of Education note the expert evidence that current sight-testing procedures do not pick up all sight problems and that funded in-depth examinations should be an option when other interventions have failed.

48. That the Ministry of Education, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, commission research into the extent of untreated glue ear in primary school children, with a particular focus on at-risk children.

49. That the current provision for vision testing be extended to ensure that a broader range of visual deficiencies creating obstacles to optimal development of reading skills is identified at the earliest opportunity.

50. That schools use innovative methods to actively foster high-quality relationships with parents and whanau, especially those of at-risk children.

51. That the Ministry of Education investigate whether compulsory early childhood education would improve beginning learning skills among at-risk groups, and thus close the reading gap.


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