Gonski improves literacy

Students at Bennett Road Public School in western Sydney have boosted their literacy through intensive programs funded by Gonski.


Bennett Road Public School in western Sydney has used its Gonski funding to improve the reading and writing skills of its youngest students – setting them up to succeed academically for the rest of their school careers.

The school has benefited from an Instructional Leader funded by the NSW Government in 2013, but principal Matt Plummer says it is the arrival of Gonski funding in 2014 that has allowed the school to deliver real improvements to literacy.

The school now wants to use the full six years of Gonski funding to expand what it is doing and ensure all students can get the support they need.

Targeting literacy with Gonski

The school’s Instructional Leader is an expert who works with teachers to help them design programs for classes and lift the quality of their teaching for Kindergarten through to Year 2.

With Gonski funding the school has been able to buy $80,000 worth of new books so each classroom has its own library and students can see books as a natural part of their day.

Gonski funding has been used to increase the schools use of Reading Recovery and allow an increased number of students to have access to daily one-to-one reading and writing instruction from a specially trained Reading Recovery teacher.

The school has also employed a speech therapist who sees between 20-25 students across each fortnight. It also employs two School Learning Support Officers to provide follow up speech lessons daily for these students.

Poor speech skills hurt student confidence and ability to be involved in class, and can be a major barrier to learning.

It has also reduced class sizes for Years 1 and 5.

NAPLAN boost reflects student progress

Mr Plummer says that student performance has already lifted as a result of these programs, something which is reflected in the schools 2015 NAPLAN results.

The NAPLAN results for Year 3s showed marked improvement in all aspects of literacy, with writing lifting 60 points and moving close to the NSW State average. 

More Gonski will mean successful programs can be expanded

Mr Plummer said that the success of the focus on early years literacy meant the school now wants to extend this right through to Year 6.

The extra programs and resources are already moving up into Years 3 and 4 and the school wants all students to have access to extra support and smaller class sizes.

The school plans to use Gonski to increase its engagement with parents, and further strengthen the school community.

Teachers can use Gonski to get high quality professional learning to further improve their skills to benefit students.

Mr Plummer said that Bennett Road’s improvement has shown that Gonski could work for them, and for schools in similar circumstances. He said there could be no excuses for not delivering the full six years of Gonski and making sure all students had access to extra resources.

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