Extra funding would mean more reading support at Berwick Chase Primary

Extra funding would mean more reading support at Berwick Chase Primary

Berwick Chase Primary School Principal Chris Short would invest any extra public school funding made available by the election of a Shorten Labor government into teacher training, maths specialists and into expanding the school’s student literacy intervention programs.

Berwick Chase Primary School, in Melbourne’s south-east, stands to receive an extra $1,090,000 in funding as its share of Labor’s election commitment to invest an additional $3.3 billion into public schools in its first three years of government.

Mr Short said that the majority of extra funding that his previous school, Skye Primary School, had received had been invested in an extensive student literacy program.

“At Skye Primary School we received about $280,000 and started a literacy intervention program,” Mr Short said.

“We would have students coming to our school who were about a year, a year and a half behind what you would typically expect of a five year old. We had a lot of work to do just to get them school-ready before we could even start getting them interacting with the school curriculum.”

“We employed two staff members to work on social skills, such as sharing,” Mr Short said. “Then we implemented a strong oral language program, teaching students the appropriate amount of language, exposing them to a broader variety of words and having books read to them.”

“We found that really fast-tracked their development and made their learning in the classroom a lot better. The kids loved it, and the staff loved it as well,” Mr Short said.

Berwick Chase Primary School caters for students from preparatory year to year 6. The school officially opened its doors in January 2009, and currently has about 900 students.

Mr Short said that any extra funding that Berwick Chase received from a Labor federal government would be spent on student literacy chronological awareness and on professional development for school staff.

“Chronological awareness is the missing piece in a lot of literacy programs,” Mr Short said.

“The school has employed a speech pathologist for two days a week. I don’t imagine the school could run as well without her assistance, knowing what she knows. Her programs are all about onset and rhyme, syllable deletions, whether students recognise syllables, consonants, sounds, all of that sort of thing.”

“If the children can’t do that, when reading gets tougher and they hit unknown words, they just fall in a heap. Chronological awareness addresses this issue.”

Mr Short said Berwick Chase invested extra funding into literacy programs as this is the key to unlocking all areas of the curriculum.

He said extra funding also meant Berwick Chase could offer teachers extra help to cope with the wide range of student abilities

“If you pick grade two, for example, you can have a range of up to two and a half years in one class,” Mr Short said. “You can have students who can be up to one year behind and you have got students who are performing up to one and half years ahead. Just imagine trying to meet the needs of 24 individuals within that classroom. Teachers need the extra support that this additional funding can provide.”

Longer term, Mr Short said that any extra funding would be invested into maths and logic specialists, and into staff development.

“We would like to focus more on higher-level maths applications, logic and reasoning, those higher-level skills that are quite transferable if you want to go into computer programming or logistics,” Mr Short said. “Our school hasn’t had the professional learning or the support structures around that. That is something the school is really interested in tackling.”

“The school needs the higher level of funding support to lift teacher knowledge and pedagogical approaches as well. A few extra resources to facilitate professional learning days would be absolutely amazing.”