School empowers learning

September 09, 2017

Literacy and numeracy success: Teacher Dan O'Reilly works with students Kyan Maiorano, (left) and Ethan Brennan (right).

Orrvale Primary School’s focus on literacy and numeracy, like all schools, goes beyond the national week as shown through its huge improvements to results in the past two years.

In the National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy, the school’s Years 3 and 5 students have improved their scores from an average band 4 result in 2014 in most subjects to an average band 6 in 2016.

Principal Adam Brennan is proud of the growth made by students and credited a range of approaches they have implemented in past years for the success.

‘‘We’ve invested heavily in literacy and building teacher capacity; teachers are the best resource in our school and we are lucky to have quality staff,’’ he said.

He also said they have worked with families through parent and teacher sessions to better equip parents and caregivers to support what is happening in the classroom.

‘‘We taught parents how to listen to their children when they read, what to look for, and encourage talk homework where students are given a topic of conversation they would talk about with their family around the dinner table.

‘‘The talk homework would be linked to their writing task the next day and would get them ready and set up their vocabulary.’’

The school has a reading recovery teacher for students and a literacy leader who regularly coaches and mentors the younger teachers.

Mr Brennan said they are building the students’ reading and writing stamina so they can work more independently.

‘‘We are using lots of different ways to tell a story, whether it’s writing a script for a movie using technology or the old-fashioned way,’’ he said.

‘‘If a student struggles at spelling but are good storytellers we encourage them to use that, we work with their strengths while still improving their weaknesses.

‘‘It’s about engagement.’’

In numeracy, the school has engaged a consultant to help the planning of lessons.

‘‘He is supportive in creating rich challenging tasks that focus on the students building number sense,’’ he said.

‘‘The focus is not all on getting the correct answer but showing their strategies, ‘We ask how many different ways can you do the problem?’’’

Mr Brennan said schools are working better together in the district with teachers from small groups visiting each others’ schools and observing other teachers at work.

‘‘Kids know how they are going with their learning and make their own goals; they are further empowered in their learning,’’

‘‘We work with students to build and improve on their results.’’

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