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Whole School Literacy Approach

The success of our work in Literacy saw Balmoral State High School win the Queensland Showcase award in 2016. 

Balmoral State High Whole School Literacy Approach

 
In high school, students are expected to read increasingly complex texts: novels, web sites, articles, textbooks, plays, poems, and many others. To be successful users and creators of text, students need to be explicitly taught the specific skills that allow them to engage deeply and successfully.

The literacy strategies students use at Balmoral SHS are drawn from a methodology supported by a strong evidence base with highly consistent findings, both in Australia ans internationally: Reading to Learn. Through carefully designed learning strategies all students are continually engaged and successful at each step of these teaching strategies. This approach involves explicit teaching of challenging subject-related texts with high levels of scaffolding, leading to successful, independent literacy learners.
 
These strategies are taught across the whole school, in all subjects, at all year levels. They develop students’ reading and writing skills, while teaching the content of the curriculum.
 
Our teachers have received between four and eight days of professional learning to build their knowledge and mastery around literacy teaching.
International experience affirms in the best schools…”there was no attempt to address literacy through one-off training days [it] was an integral part of longer term school improvement plans and informed the content of action plans for each subject” (Moving literacy forward P–12, Education Queensland, 2016). 

Literacy Matters

Education Queensland recognises literacy as fundamental to every student’s success, and to improved school performance. Research tells us that a shared understanding of this indicator is most likely to improve student outcomes. Education Queensland recognises literacy as fundamental to every student’s success, and to improved school performance. Research tells us that a shared understanding of this indicator is most likely to improve student outcomes.
 
In 2014, Balmoral SHS began a whole school journey to put this knowledge into action. Teachers began implementation of a literacy methodology supported by a strong evidence base with highly consistent findings both in Australia and internationally.  Reading to Learn  aims to support every student in a class to read and to write challenging texts at their grade level. Through carefully designed learning strategies all students are continually engaged and successful at each step of these teaching strategies.
 
Reading to Learn involves detailed training in aspects of literacy often absent in tertiary training and school-based subjects, combined with a range of strategies to enhance student reading and writing outcomes. This approach involves explicit teaching of challenging subject-related texts with high levels of scaffolding, leading to successful, independent literacy learners. International experience affirms in the best schools…”there was no attempt to address literacy through one-off training days [it] was an integral part of longer term school improvement plans and informed the content of action plans for each subject” (Moving literacy forward P–12, Education Queensland, 2016).
 
                       Balmoral SHS - Strategic Planning Literacy​ ​
Long Term Objectives ​Recent Outcomes
Improve student literacy outcomes
  • ​2016 Year 9 NAPLAN reading in Upper Two Bands exceeded 25.7% equal or above nation 20.6%
  • 2016 Year 9 NAPLAN reading mean 591.5 equal or above nation 556.3
Implement whole-school literacy methodology
  • 85% of teachers across the school fully trained
  • Balmoral’s 2017 Explicit Improvement Agenda: “Consistent pedagogical practice for the teaching of literacy and to provide support for staff through professional development and training.”
Provide professional development to support deep literacy learning, combined with best practice strategies
  • Eight days of specialised training delivered to staff to build depth of capacity in literacy teaching
Support teachers and teacher aides to develop capacity to implement literacy strategies
  • Consistent, effective literacy teaching practices built through coaching, peer observations and feedback
  • Collaborative planning of curriculum incorporates literacy framework
​Track literacy data to inform teacher decisions at class, subject and school level
  • ​Literacy Writing Assessment Project tracks student progress. Across the year teachers review literacy data regularly to ensure student achievement