The Federal Government has announced a new national ‘reading blitz’ for students between Foundation and Year 3 to be launched next year in a bid to tackle falling literacy rates.

The initiative will see the Federal Government ask all schools across every sector and state, to sign up to the intensive three-year program as part of the National Plan for School Improvement.

“We want every school to focus on using the right teaching methods, specialist teacher skills and data about student progress to make sure that all kids are reading well and reaching the right standards early in their schooling,” Prime Minister Julia Gillard said in a statement.

The release of the initiative comes after around 75,000 students failed to meet national minimum standards under NAPLAN.

“Without improvement, that number could climb to more than 150,000 by 2025, when the children starting school this year will complete Year 12,” Ms Gillard said.

As part of the 'blitz', schools will be asked to adopt evidence-based strategies such as:

  • Teachers will maintain a ‘running record’ on the progress of each student to ensure no student slips through the cracks. This would include regular diagnosis of student progress throughout the year.
  • Schools will set out in their reading plan how they will teach reading, including through phonics and phonemics, and what methods they will use to identify students at risk of falling behind.
  • Schools and school systems will provide parents and carers with simple learning methods they can use at home to support their child’s reading. For example, parents could get a list of basic teaching tips or access to interactive digital resources.
  • There will be more opportunities for parents and community members or organisations to volunteer in classrooms and share their love of reading with young children.
  • Schools can hire community engagement experts to organise parent workshops, helping build their skills and understanding of reading and literacy.
  • Improvements in early years reading would be included in schools’ annual reporting, and schools will be asked to share information about successful strategies.