At Cowes Primary School on Philip Island, a group of prep children peer intently through magnifying glasses at old National Geographic magazines. Principal Suzanne Becker walks in and a sea of excited voices chime out,
“Mrs Becker, Mrs Becker, we found a comma!”
It is one of the many rewarding moments for the proud principal who has led the school’s cultural and academic transformation over the past eight years.
Mrs Becker knew that a strong foundation in literacy and numeracy was vital for every child and young person to reach their potential, so improving literacy skills was a major focus.
“We knew we had to do something; our results were below the state average and other schools like ours,” Mrs Becker said.
Team approach to fun learning
Engaging students was the first step. Mrs Becker, with support from her enthusiastic staff, went about creating a collaborative culture in the school. Proven, research-based teaching practices were applied, consistent teaching methods were used in every classroom and emphasis was placed on ensuring literacy learning was fun for everyone.
Today the school’s NAPLAN grades are well above the state average in reading and maths, and the relative growth across both areas is high.
“We have created a culture where it is fun to be, where everyone is supportive and helps each other and where teachers know they can make a difference and do,” Mrs Becker said.
“We work as one team to do the best we can and the results speak for themselves.”
Mrs Becker credits the school’s positive vibe and impressive results to a fantastic team, respect and appreciation of teaching staff and using strategies that “we know work”.
A passion for punctuation
She said a surprising outcome of the new approach was how the school’s prep students now enjoyed learning about punctuation.
“They are very happy when they find a comma or explanation mark,” she said.
“Our preppies now know how quickly they can write and how much they can write. They are very excited about being able to write three pages — and that’s happening in the first semester."
Victoria’s new Literacy and Numeracy Strategy
Lifting literacy and numeracy standards across Victorian Government schools is the aim of Department’s recently released Literacy and Numeracy Strategy.
Education Minister James Merlino said:
“Strong literacy and numeracy skills are essential for kids to get the best out of themselves — that’s why we’ve been working closely with principals, teachers, students and education experts to develop this comprehensive strategy.”
The strategy will help schools reach Education State targets of more students reaching the highest levels in reading and mathematics and breaking the link between disadvantage and education outcomes.
Schools will be provided the latest evidence-based teaching resources, professional development opportunities and increased support to help them lift student literacy and numeracy skills.
For more information on the strategy and to access the Victorian Literacy Portal and Victorian Numeracy Portal, see: Supporting Literacy and Numeracy