Stunning literacy results spur students on

Reading age rises by 1.9 years in 15 weeks

Kerri Carr

Daniel Laing with students benefiting from the Gonski-funded intensive literacy program at Toormina High

Word is getting around Toormina High about the success of its Gonski-funded intensive literacy program.

Federation Representative Daniel Laing said the opportunity of one-on-one tutoring enables tutors to gain the trust of students and then the students are more willing to take risks with learning.

“When a student feels comfortable and able to take risks with their learning the tutor can gain much greater insights into learning styles and individual student needs and hence programming and instruction becomes much more individualised and learning occurs at a faster pace,” Mr Laing said.

“These bonds are significant and a key to the success of the program.”

“Liaising with class teachers to reinforce skills back in the classes is also extremely important,” he added.

Since the program’s inception the reading age of the students involved has risen by 1.9 years in just 15 weeks.

Mr Laing said quick results provide a student with the self-belief to continue with the tutoring, which then allows a significant building of the student’s skill set.

“The new-found confidence and skills are transferred back into the classroom across all key learning areas. We have students bringing their friends to self-refer.”

“There has not only been improved academic results but improved attendance, attitude and commitment to study,” Mr Laing added.

When he considers the need for the Federal Government to fund the fifth and sixth years of the Gonski agreement, where two-thirds of the promised funding would be made available to schools, Mr Laing thinks of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which required significant investment.

“Imagine for a minute that the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge had ceased at one-third of its intended span. What benefit would it serve for our society today?”

“We have achieved a lot in the past two years with the implementation of Gonski needs-based resources, but there is still a long way to go to fulfil the need and satisfying the overall intention of the Gonski agreement.”

Gonski funding has also supported a senior mentoring program, project-based learning, Aboriginal boys’ horticultural program, leadership development programs and the English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) learn to swim program at the school.

Mr Laing said a number of staff have been employed using the additional funds to support students and their learning needs, including a head teacher of Teaching and Learning, Aboriginal Engagement Officer, EAL/D teachers, numerous student learning support officers and program-specific staff employed on a casual basis such as trained horticulturalists and Elders, who offered bush tucker and didgeridoo lessons.

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