What do we mean by literacy?

The defi nition of literacy used by the Priority Schools Funding Program

(PSFP) is the one promoted by the State Literacy Plan. It is drawn from

the Australian Language and Literacy Policy:

Literacy is the ability to read and use written information and to

write appropriately, in a range of contexts. It is used to develop

knowledge and understanding, to achieve personal growth and

to function effectively in our society. Literacy also includes the

recognition of numbers and basic mathematical symbols and

signs within text.

Literacy also involves the integration of speaking, listening

and critical thinking with reading and writing. Effective literacy

is intrinsically purposeful, fl exible and dynamic. It continues to

develop throughout an individual’s lifetime.
What is particular about the focus on literacy for students from low

SES backgrounds?

The English K-6 Syllabus and State

literacy materials are based on a social

view of language. This can greatly assist

in teaching explicitly the language skills

and understandings that students need.

This view of language, also known as a

functional view, systematically describes

how language is used in different

situations for different purposes.

Students learn the range of language

choices available and the effects that

can be created by choosing different

language. Good language choice has

occurred when the language used in a

particular situation matches the function

that the language user intended to perform.

As students engage with different types

of texts through modelled, guided and

independent construction, they are able

to critically interpret and manipulate the

texts to achieve their own goals.

The explicit description of how language

works is especially important in low

SES communities because the literacy

experiences of students often differ

from those used and valued at school.

Knowing how language works helps

parents and teachers support students

to value and build on home and school


The Four Literacy Resources model

Code-breaking resources

This includes teaching students to use knowledge of:

• letter/sound relationships

• concepts about print

• spelling

• punctuation

• grammar

• structural conventions and patterns.
When code-breaking, students will be asking themselves questions like:

• How do I crack this code?

• What sound does this letter make?

• What keys do I press when I want to write ‘sh’? Text-using resources

This includes teaching students to:

• recognise the purpose, structure and features of texts

• use texts to increase knowledge and refine understanding

• apply their knowledge of texts to achieve purposes both inside/outside the school.
When using text, students will be asking themselves questions like:

• What is the purpose of this text?

• What changes will I need to make to this text to upload it on a website?

Meaning-making resources

This includes teaching students to use:

• knowledge of literal and inferential meanings

• background information

• prior knowledge and previous experiences with similar texts to make meaning.
When making meaning, students will be asking themselves questions like:

• What is this text about?

• What might happen next?

• What do I already know about this topic? Text-analysing resources

This includes teaching students to:

• identify the techniques used to position readers, viewers and listeners

• identify opinions, bias, points of view

• consider reactions to a text from varying perspectives

• endorse a position or present an alternative position to that taken by a text.
When analysing text, students will be asking themselves questions like:

• What is fact and what is opinion in this text?

• Whose interests are being served?

• How do I know if this information is accurate or fair?

• How could the text be written differently?

Whenever the word ‘text’ is used it includes written, visual, oral/aural, digital and multimodal texts.

Adapted from, An introduction to quality literacy teaching. NSW Department of Education and Training 2009

Use a variety of technologies in the

classroom that support improvement

in literacy outcomes, including

computers, digital cameras and the


Offer a large range of interesting

and challenging texts on topics

that engage the interest of all

students and connect them to

real-life contexts

Raise students’, parents’ and teachers’

expectations of student achievement

of stage appropriate outcomes by

showing, discussing and comparing

student work.

Explore creative approaches to teaching

literacy such as making student

videos, websites, CD- ROMs,

producing a community newspaper

or running a school radio station.

Encourage and support parents to

read frequently with their children at

home and to discuss their children’s

learning with them
Reading at home, including a vodcast and handout, provides strategies for parents to support their child's reading outcomes at home.