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Improving literacy and numeracy at school



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4fe MEDIA RELEASE DR DAVID KEMP, MR Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs 11 May 1999

IMPROVING LITERACY AND NUMERACY AT SCHOOL

In line with the Howard Government’s strategy to lift educational standards all round, increased funding to help schools measurably improve the literacy and numeracy skills of students in the early and middle years of schooling was today announced by the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Dr David Kemp.

The Government will provide an additional $131.1 million for literacy and numeracy programmes for school students from 1999-2000 and 2003-2004, making a total of almost $869 million to assist students with special needs in literacy and numeracy in the next four years to 2002-03.

“The consequences of poor literacy and numeracy achievement at school include an increased likelihood of leaving school early, poor access to further education and training and a much higher risk of unemployment,” said Dr Kemp.

This increased funding will support two initiatives announced as part of the Government’s 1998 election education commitments:

• Strategies to improve literacy and numeracy in the middle years of schooling, $47.1 million; and • Funding for the National Literacy and Numeracy Plan, $84 million.

There is a need for action now for the middle years of school because these students have missed out on acquiring these vital skills in the early years of schooling. As a result they have difficulty coping with the demands of the school curriculum.

“Support for Indigenous students is a particular priority. Indigenous students have particular needs for improved literacy and numeracy. Studies show that at present some 60 - 70 per cent of Indigenous students are reading and writing below the national standards,” said Dr Kemp.

In March 1997, Commonwealth, State and Territory Education Ministers agreed to a National Literacy and Numeracy Goal, That every child leaving primary school should be numerate, and be able to read, write and spell at an appropriate level, to be achieved though the implementation of a National Literacy and Numeracy Plan.

The Commonwealth specifically supports the achievement of the National Literacy and Numeracy Goal through the provision of funding under the Literacy and Numeracy Programme. There is the first National target agreed by Ministers under the National Goals of Schooling and reflects the increasing emphasis on accountability of learning outcomes.

“The first education priority for this Government has been to provide funding support in the crucial early years of schooling. This support will continue and has been increased by $131.1 million for literacy and numeracy programmes over the next three years,” said Dr Kemp.

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In addition to these initiatives the Government has allocated $1 million to establish Australia’s first National Literacy Week, which will take place from 6 to 10 September 1999, to coincide with International Literacy Day on 8 September.

“Every State and Territory has united to support the initiative and non-government school authorities will be invited to participate in celebrations, which will also include a focus on numeracy,” said Dr Kemp.

The $1 million funding will be used to support a range of activities in primary schools, homes and communities involving teachers, parents and businesses. ,

“Action is required from all governments and schools to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of students in all stages of schooling. The additional funding for literacy and numeracy provided by the Government in this Budget will help to ensure that all Australian students leave school with the literacy and numeracy skills to enable them to enter work or further training,” said Dr Kemp.

Media contact: Samantha Herron 0412 639 754 or 02 6277 7460

FACT SHEET

IMPROVING LITERACY AND NUMERACY AT SCHOOL

National Literacy and Numeracy Plan

The Government will provide an additional $84 million over three years to 2001-02 through the Literacy and Numeracy Programme to continue its support for the National Literacy and Numeracy Plan. This additional funding was a part of the Government’s 1998 Election education commitments.

This measure will provide for continuity of funding for the existing National Literacy and Numeracy Plan. Funding will help schools to measurably improve the literacy and numeracy skills of school students who are at risk of not meeting the national benchmarks, including support for Indigenous students as a priority area. This funding combined with the additional

funding for middle years’ literacy and numeracy initiatives will enhance the outcomes of the Literacy and Numeracy Programme bringing the total financial contribution of the Commonwealth under the Literacy and Numeracy Programme to almost $216 million in 2000.

In March 1997, Commonwealth, State and Territory Education Ministers agreed to National Literacy and Numeracy Goals, that would be achieved though the implementation of a National Literacy and Numeracy Plan focussed on the crucial early years of school.

The Commonwealth specifically supports the achievement of the National Literacy and Numeracy Goals through the provision of funding under the Literacy and Numeracy Programme - to assist schools to implement the National Literacy and Numeracy Plan. Over three years, this measure will provide an additional:

a) $69 million to government and non-government education authorities under the existing arrangements for the Grants to Schools to Foster Literacy and Numeracy strand; and b) $15 million will be provided to support the National Strategies and Projects strand of the Literacy and Numeracy Programme. This will continue the existing successful programme of

Commonwealth initiated research and innovative projects involving key stakeholders in the education community which support the National Literacy and Numeracy Plan.

Literacy and numeracy in the middle years of schooling

An additional $47 million will be provided over four years to 2002-03 for literacy and numeracy initiatives in the middle years of schooling. This initiative was part of the Government’s 1998 Election education commitments.

This measure will support innovative and nationally significant initiatives to assist students who have progressed to later primary and early secondary school without achieving a minimum acceptable standard of literacy and numeracy. This funding will assist in identifying and providing effective methods for improving literacy and numeracy skills for underachieving

students in the middle years of schooling - Years 5 to 10. This funding combined with the additional funding for the National Literacy and Numeracy Plan brings the total financial contribution of the Commonwealth under the Literacy and Numeracy Programme to almost $216 million in 2000.

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Funding for literacy and numeracy in the middle years of schooling will become available in January 2000. A large proportion of the funding will be available to education authorities through a submission process for sector based projects. The Commonwealth will develop - supplementary Administrative Guidelines during 1999 to reflect the additional funding for

literacy and numeracy initiatives in the middle years of schooling.

Funding will be tightly targeted to assist those students in the middle years of schooling who have not developed basic literacy and numeracy skills and who therefore have difficulty coping with the demands of the school curriculum. Funding will support initiatives to improve literacy and numeracy in the transition from primary to secondary school, intervention strategies and

classroom based research into effective teaching practice in the middle years of schooling.

The remaining funding will be for strategic national projects. It is expected that specific national projects would be advertised for open tender as priorities arise. Education authorities and other stakeholders would also be eligible to submit proposals for this funding.