Improvement measures for literacy and numeracy

Your school will have a range of improvement measures within your Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP) that relate specifically to literacy and numeracy improvements.

While all schools will have system-negotiated targets embedded within their SIP, your situational analysis will highlight your school’s contextual needs and inform the identification of school-determined targets and improvement measures.

Examples of contextually relevant literacy and numeracy improvement measures, which are intended to guide your thinking as you develop your Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP), are provided in the following material on specific equity groups.

Using funding for literacy and numeracy

The School Excellence Framework, Statement of Excellence, Leading - School Resources, states:

'In schools that excel, resources are strategically used to achieve improved student outcomes and high quality service delivery.'

It is vitally important that accountability for the effective use of needs-based funding extends beyond financial expenditure to include evaluation of the impacts on student learning.

The current School Budget Allocation Report: A guide for schools is provided on the Resource Allocation Model (RAM) page, and states:

‘The funding provided in the SBAR is a critical resource and is provided to support the delivery of the strategic directions identified in the school plan that directly impact on student learning.’

‘Effective planning and management of resources will support student learning and maximise outcomes for that year.’

How funding is used to support the literacy and numeracy development of students within your school depends upon a number of factors.

  • What are the literacy and numeracy needs of students within your school?
  • What additional skills are required by staff to support students' literacy and numeracy development?
  • What funding is already allocated to specific students to support their learning needs?
  • What staffing allocations does your school receive that can support literacy and numeracy development?

Consideration of these questions will enable you to effectively link funding to the initiatives and strategies in your school’s Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP).

Funding sources

Base school allocation funding

This incorporates the Quality Teaching, Successful Students (QTSS) staffing resource, and provides further support to improve the quality of teaching and enhance professional practice in schools.

Operational funding per capita

This provides principals with flexibility in their local decision making to meet the unique needs of students in their school.

Initiative funding

This provides additional resources to schools to support identified needs.

  • 'Professional learning' addresses the professional learning needs of all staff (teaching, SAS and other non-teaching staff) to implement the school’s strategic directions.
  • 'Beginning teacher' provides regular release time for the beginning teacher as well as an experienced teacher to provide mentoring support that enhances their professional growth and teaching quality.
  • 'Literacy and numeracy' addresses the literacy and numeracy learning needs of students across K-6.
  • 'Early action for success' (EAfS) enables the employment of an EAfS instructional leader in identified schools to improve students' performance through targeted support for primary schools.

Equity loadings

Equity loadings allow for a range of initiatives that support the target student group. Some schools may choose to combine their equity funding with other funding sources to better support the learning needs of students, such as:

Targeted funding

Targeted funding focuses on the learning needs of individual students who meet the specific criteria for each funding type.

  • Refugee student support for students from refugee backgrounds who have been enrolled in an Australian school for less than 3 years.
  • New arrivals program provides intensive English tuition for eligible, newly arrived students at the beginning and emerging phases of English language proficiency.
  • Integration funding support is available for eligible students in mainstream classes with a confirmed disability who require moderate to high levels of adjustment.

Principals have the responsibility for determining the most appropriate ways of using the total annual school funding to meet the identified learning and support needs of all students, and those who meet the specific criteria related to each equity loading or targeted funding area.

Reflective questions on school funding

  • What funding is required to support evidence-based strategies that would provide the most impact for improving the literacy and numeracy outcomes of students in our school at the whole school, specific group and individual level?
  • Have we accounted for each of these funding allocations in our Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP)?
  • Have all funded initiatives, including those not linked to a specific strategic direction, been accounted for in the ‘Annual additional funding activities’ and evaluated for publication in our annual report?

Further information and links

The skills developed in the first 3 years of formal schooling enable students to take on progressively more demanding learning tasks and successfully progress through upper primary and secondary school.

There are some key considerations in the early years of school when planning for literacy and numeracy improvement, such as:

  • variance in student capabilities in literacy and numeracy on entry to school within classes or year groups – (see Best Start Kindergarten)
  • diverse experiences of transition from preschool to Kindergarten
  • diverse cultural backgrounds or family expectations
  • variance in teacher knowledge of and expertise in early years literacy and numeracy research and classroom practice.

Students in the early years of school require key literacy and numeracy skills to ensure success in learning across the curriculum.

Effective reading instruction in the early years of school summarises research and concludes that to be most successful, 5 key components must be taught explicitly, sequentially and systematically. The components identified as essential to reading instruction in the early years are:

  • phonological awareness
  • phonics
  • vocabulary
  • fluency
  • comprehension.

Research highlights the importance of oral language as an additional component that is essential to reading development.

To know what to teach first, schools should examine their Best Start Assessment results to identify areas of strength and then target teaching to areas of concern. These will inform tailored approaches to planning and programming. PLAN2 Areas of Focus can be established and used to support targeted teaching and monitoring of identified literacy and numeracy priorities.

Best Start Kindergarten Assessment identifies students' literacy and numeracy skills on entry to Kindergarten and feedback is used to develop and implement plans and programs for the targeted teaching of identified literacy and numeracy priorities at cohort, group and individual student levels.

Best Start Year 7 helps with identifying students who may require additional support in the development of key literacy and numeracy skills that are fundamental to their success in all subjects in secondary school. Feedback from the assessment also provides secondary teachers with information to support targeted teaching strategies to meet the needs of each student.

Access the learning progressions for:

The HSC minimum standard is set at Level 3 of the Australian Core Skills Framework and describes skills in reading, writing and numeracy that are useful in everyday life, for work and further study.

Examples of effective practices secondary schools have used for supporting student literacy and numeracy development from Year 7 through to Year 12 can be found within the School discoveries modules.

See more information on explicit literacy and numeracy teaching and learning activities on the HSC minimum standard resource.

Support for schools can be accessed through the School Services Finder. Specialist staff are available to advise schools on existing resources and provide professional learning and classroom practice support for schools P-12 to implement curriculum priorities and programs.

Literacy and numeracy professional learning

  • Professional learning resources are available to support teachers and school leadership teams in the teaching of literacy and numeracy in Primary and Secondary schools.
  • Teaching and learning resources are available to support the teaching and learning of literacy and numeracy in schools.
  • Assessment advice provides essential information for teachers. A suite of assessment resources tools are also available to assess students' literacy and numeracy skills at different stages throughout schooling.
  • NESA's work samples aligned to grades - collaboratively reviewing work samples that have been aligned to syllabus expectations is an effective way to assist teachers to have a clear understanding of the standards at each stage level.

Learn more

Find out more about School Excellence in Action.

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