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Literate Learners for Life — Every Student, Every Subject, Every Year

Literate Learners for Life is Catholic Education Tasmania’s commitment to developing the literacy and vocabulary skills of every student, in every subject, every year.

Launched prior to the 2022 school year with a series of three system development days, we believe that this whole-system science-based approach to literacy, in particular the teaching of phonics, will set our students up for success in not just literacy, but all areas of life.

Noting the unique context presented in Tasmania, including low rates of adult functional literacy and declining NAPLAN scores across the system, CET recognised the need for a dedicated literacy strategy to address these concerns.

Improving literacy outcomes for all

In his opening address to the teachers and teacher assistants attending the development days, Executive Director of Catholic Education Tasmania Dr Gerard Gaskin spoke to the need to improve literacy outcomes for all students, especially those who currently are facing difficulty. Dr Gaskin went on to highlight the support that the project has received from right across the Tasmanian educational community.

These system-wide development days provided a wonderful opportunity for staff to gather (albeit, virtually) and learn from a number of experts in the field of science-informed reading practice. 

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Keynote presentations throughout the days included:

  • Dr Gerard Gaskin — CET Reading Data Trends (2008-2021)
  • Oliver Lovell — Cognitive Load Theory in Action
  • Dr Jennifer Buckingham —Literacy Research in Practice
  • Prof. Pamela Snow — Enhancing vocabulary across all learning areas
  • Asst. Prof. Tanya Serry — Writing opportunities across all learning areas

Dr Jennifer Buckingham spoke to attendees about what research into literacy looks like when put into practice. Dr Buckingham has a rich background in the field of literacy research and currently sits on the board of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership alongside her role as Director of Strategy with MultiLit

Dr Buckingham's presence on the panel gave teachers a chance to ask questions about InitiaLit, the foundation to Year 2 literacy program that will be rolling out in all CET Primary Schools beginning in 2022. Staff were able to engage and discuss the differences between InitiaLit and other early-stage literacy programs that they may be familiar with, hearing about InitiaLit’s focus on the explicit instruction of phonic reading.

A number of CET staff involved with the Literate Learners for Life project joined Professors, Asst. Professor Serry and Dr Buckingham for a live Q&A panel. The panel provided a great opportunity for teachers and educators to hear more about the rationale behind the project, how CET intends to support it moving forward, and some considerations as we look forward to improving literacy outcomes for all students.

Reading takes you to a new place

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Our teachers and teacher assistants also heard reflections on literacy learning from past and present students. These reflections highlighted the importance that learners place on reading skills to engage in learning experiences from all subjects, communicate effectively, learn new words and simply read for enjoyment. 

“The thing I like about reading is that it takes you to a new place [...] if I need somewhere to go other than myself or my house. It’s a good way to relax”  

In closing, Dr Gaskin offered his thanks to all those in attendance and working behind the scenes; restating the importance of the project as a means to improve outcomes for every student, in every subject, every year in Catholic schools across Tasmania.

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A special thank you to GK Productions for their professionalism in setting up the production studio on-site for the event.

We look forward to embarking on this incredible journey and appreciate the support shown by teachers and educational leaders from across the state. Stay tuned for more content from the days as well as from our schools as we look to embed literacy best practice and teacher knowledge across our schools.

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