Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

12 March 2021

Jeremy Rockliff, Minister for Education and Training

STATEMENT: New literacy target to improve education outcomes

The Tasmanian Government strongly welcomes interest from across our community in improving literacy outcomes for all Tasmanians.

Improving literacy is a clear Government priority, which is why we have established a Literacy Framework(2019-22) to ensure a system-wide and strategic approach to the teaching and learning, of reading and writing.

It has also provided a strong foundation for key initiatives such as Launching into Learning, Learning in Families Together, and the introduction of Quality Teaching Coaches.

I recently had the opportunity to meet with members of the Tasmanian #100 per cent Literacy Alliance to discuss their road map to a Literate Tasmania.

I was particularly encouraged by the Alliance’s recognition that improving literacy in Tasmania is a whole of community responsibility, and that starts before birth.

Many of the Alliance’s observations and suggestions regarding the teaching of reading, writing and spelling at school align with our Literacy Framework.

While we are continuing to build on progress that has been made, it is clear there is still a long way to go. We need to pick up the pace, I want to see our rate of improvement accelerated.

Whilst the Literacy Alliance’s work suggested a 10 year timeframe for improvement, I believe we can do even better.

That is why I am committing today, that by year 7 all young people will meet an expected reading standard that is above the national minimum by no later than 2030.

I have asked the Department to determine the standard against the progress achievement test (PAT) and I expect to have more information on this standard in the coming weeks. We must aim higher knowing we can do better.

This target will apply to all students who currently undertake NAPLAN.

Critical to our success will be ensuring we have the systems and processes to help identify as early as possible, those learners that are not meeting the expected standards, and that teachers are able to quickly deliver intense supports where needed.

Teachers will be supported through professional learning and resources to strengthen their capacity to ensure learners, across the years, are able to meet the expected standards.

To meet this target will require a concerted and sustained effort.

This is how we will do it.

As we know, Phonics is essential for children to become successful readers and spellers/writers in the early years of schooling.

Starting this year all government schools will have phonics instruction in place from Prep to year 2. The Letters and Sounds program, which is evidence based, is endorsed by the Department and is available to all primary schools.

A guide is being developed on the teaching of phonics to support our teachers and will be available to all government schools in Term 2.

The Year One Phonics Check, introduced last year, will provide an initial indication for teachers to inform the provision of further supports.

From Prep the Progressive Achievement Test (or PAT) developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) will be used by all government schools to further gauge student progress in reading..

This will enable us to identify any students who need more intensive, targeted support.

As was recognised by the Literacy Alliance, school education is an important part of a complex puzzle, but it is only one piece.

If we are to achieve our aspirational goal for all Tasmanians to be functionally literate, we need to recognise that this is a whole of community issue.

We must all work together across government, industry and community.

This is why today I am pleased to also announce the establishment of an expert advisory panel to oversee the development of a community-wide framework to achieve a Literate Tasmania.

This panel will be co-chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Jenny Gale and Professor Natalie Brown, Director of the Peter Underwood Centre for Educational Attainment.

Panel membership will be managed through an EOI process with a strong focus on ensuring there is a diversity in skills and experience.

This group will undertake a review of the current literacy programs and supports across our community and provide recommendations on how we can continue to improve our approach.

I am proud of the significant work occurring across our community and the commitment I see to improving Tasmanians lives by lifting our literacy levels.

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