Developing literacy non-negotiables

​​​​​​​​How Footscray North Primary made literacy instruction consistent across their school​​.​

Since 2013, Fo​otscray North Primary School in Melbourne's west has made a concerted effort to embed consistent literacy instruction across the school. Because, while pockets of practice were of high quality, other areas were identified as opportunities for growth.

What are literacy non-negotiables?

Literacy non-negotiables are a list of key practices and approaches that have consistency across the school, including:

  • Specific approaches to literacy instruction
  • How teachers and students approach the classroom library
  • Student book boxes
  • Independent reading, how and why
  • Student reading journals
  • Reading logs and conferences

Developed by the school leadership team, under Principal Davide Lombardi, this document specifies what best practice looks like and aims to address any inconsistency in the resources for planning and teaching.

'Feedback from learning walks, and the discussions which followed, indicated that staff were ready and requesting resources and research to support them in developing high-quality literacy practices,' says Davide.

'The executive group investigated current evidenced-based practices and developed a draft literacy non-negotiables document to ensure the consistent delivery of practice and reduce variability from room to room. The document outlines the minimum expectations regarding the environment, practices and literacy resources to be used.'

Bringing everyone up to speed

'Team leaders were encouraged to evaluate the way they worked with their team to establish the learning environment and high-impact strategies outlined within the literacy non-negotiables.'

Professional Learning Teams (PLTs) used the document to identify areas of strength and areas for possible improvement around literacy teaching. Areas for improvement were translated into team and individual performance and development goals.

Identified areas were modelled to staff, and through a process of gradual release of responsibility, PLTs developed confidence in sustaining a collaborative and consistent approach to literacy routines and expectations. These routines included a focus on the explicit teaching of language acquisition.

The impact and moving forward

With such a strong foundation, students began to reap the benefits of consistent and confident practice across the school.

'Teacher learning is a key driver in building practice excellence and we are able to see the impact of this, not only in improvements in student learning outcomes but also in the way teachers are able to analyse and adapt their practices based upon ongoing assessment information,' says Davide.

Staff continue to use the literacy non-negotiables document, which is evaluated each year and provided to new staff as part of the school's induction program.

More information

To read the literacy non-negotiables document and resources prepared by Footscray North Primary School or to learn more about their journey to consistent practice, see:

To review resources that helped Footscray North Primary School develop their approach to literacy, see: