Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
License needed for work use Register

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Advocacy Group Says ‘status Quo’ Interests Holding Literacy Policy Back

A grassroots literacy advocacy group is challenging the government – and all political parties – to aim for 95 percent of children to become proficient readers and writers.

Lifting Literacy Aotearoa (LLA) says educational research tells us that if policy and curriculum settings are right, this is achievable.

The group has today released a comprehensive literacy policy briefing for the incoming Minister of Education.

It has identified shortfalls in current frameworks around the curriculum, teacher training and standards, professional learning and development, assessment, intervention and specialist staffing, and quality teaching materials.

LLA chairperson Alice Wilson said that while the previous Labour government had bold ambitions to improve literacy outcomes, it failed to adequately free itself from the grip of status quo interests, and the new National-Act-New Zealand First government must learn from Labour’s mistakes.

“For too long literacy instruction in New Zealand has been divisive at the expense of children’s learning. This needs to end immediately. Acquiring literacy is a fundamental human right - it must not be political. Ensuring every member of our nation has adequate reading and writing skills is something we can all agree on, and literacy policy needs to have cross party support,” she said.

In its white paper, LLA calls for wide-ranging and immediate changes to current curriculum and literacy policy settings.

It is calling for parties currently in government, as well as those in opposition and those who lead the sector to read the paper over the holiday break and digest the actions needed to improve literacy outcomes for children in Aotearoa.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

The recommendations include appointing an expert ‘science of learning’ advisory group; being clear and ambitious about the goals for literacy policy; ensuring there is a robust, impartial and efficient process for considering changes to policy and practice settings as new evidence comes to light.

“For decades those who have been leading New Zealand’s educators have clung on to debunked teaching methods. Some stakeholders in the sector have gained financially from this mistake. Educational science is evolving, but the science tells us what does not work. And we need to get rid of these methods immediately,” Ms Wilson said.

She added that 3-cueing, where children are taught to use first letters, pictures and other cues to guess words, promoting the rote memorisation of whole words, needed to be eradicated from New Zealand classrooms immediately. This includes stopping the public funding of the Reading Recovery programme in schools and replacing it with the training and funding of specialist structured literacy intervention teachers in every school, including high schools..

“There is no one single programme that will solve New Zealand’s literacy crisis. No one PLD provider can offer a universal solution. Structured Literacy is the term given to reading, spelling and writing instruction informed by the science of reading.”

“We must not repeat the mistake of throwing all resources into one university, and one programme. Teaching is an art, and teachers deserve choice about how to implement structured literacy once they are given the knowledge around how all brains learn to read, and the kinds of instructional practices that best facilitate that learning.”

“To get this right, all stakeholders within the education sector need to be willing to move and adapt to the science – that means universities and other providers of initial teacher training should no longer be able to ignore educational science and pick and choose to teach what and how they like.”

She added that the body setting and monitoring standards of training (currently the Teaching Council) must be more effective in ensuring standards of teaching are more explicit and being delivered.

Big decisions need to be made in a short amount of time. Thousands of teachers are waiting for answers, guidance and support; and thousands more students and parents are waiting for better classroom experiences and learning outcomes, she said.

“If we don’t invest in literacy the cost to the country’s productivity down the line is enormous – at present the school-to-prison pipeline is rife because children aren’t being taught to read and write properly. This needs to change, and it can change with the will and the knowledge,” Ms Wilson said.

“If we don’t get this right it amounts to wasteful spending. If adults are not literate we will see increased costs in mental and physical health care, the justice system, and the welfare system, and reduced GDP than would otherwise have been.”

A recent Australian-based economic analysis of the costs of illiteracy found that properly funding literacy policy in schools would result in a 13 times return on investment. We could expect similar such returns in New Zealand.

LLA says changes are also needed in te reo matatini, literacy learning in kaupapa Maori and Maori-Medium settings, as well as other language medium settings (such as Samoan and Tongan). So the proposals apply equally to those settings as well.

LLA is receiving submissions on its proposals from the public, which can be emailed to liftingliteracyaotearoa@gmail.com by 17 February 2024. The paper can be found on their website: www.liftingliteracyaotearoa.org.nz/blog/our-literacy-policy-white-paper

The group is particularly keen to hear from teachers, principals, literacy specialists, PLD providers, teacher aides, literacy researchers and parents of children with dyslexia and other additional learning needs.

There are a series of consultation questions throughout the document (also listed together at the end of the document - 25 in total).

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On National Spreading Panic About The Economy


It is a political strategy as old as time. Scare the public with tales of disaster and stampede them into supporting your ideological agenda because they believe There Is No Alternative. Yet, if the NZ economy truly is as “fragile” as PM Christopher Luxon says it is... Then how come New Zealand has enjoyed a double AA+ credit rating from the international rating agencies for so long? If we have truly been in the thrall of incompetent tax, spend and borrow extremists for the past six years, how come our net government debt burden is only in the middling average of OECD countries, and how come our government debt-to-GDP ratio – however you measure it – is less than half the average for the Asia-Pacific region?..
More


 
 


Labour: Grant Robertson To Retire From Parliament
Labour List MP and former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Grant Robertson will retire from Parliament next month, and later in the year take up the position of Vice Chancellor of the University of Otago... More

Government: Budget Will Be Delivered On 30 May

Plans to deliver tax relief to hard-working New Zealanders, rebuild business confidence, and restore the Crown’s finances to order will be unveiled on 30 May, says Nicola Willis... More

Government: Humanitarian Support For Gaza & West Bank

Winston Peters has announced NZ is providing a further $5M to respond to the extreme humanitarian need in Gaza and the West Bank. “The impact of the Israel-Hamas conflict on civilians is absolutely appalling," he said... More


Government: New High Court Judge Appointed

Judith Collins has announced the appointment of Wellington Barrister Jason Scott McHerron as a High Court Judge. Justice McHerron graduated from the University of Otago with a BA in English Literature in 1994 and an LLB in 1996... More

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels


 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.