Resources for school leaders

Research has shown that when school leaders demonstrate their specific knowledge about literacy teaching and learning, teachers feel supported and engaged in raising students' achievement in literacy.

The content provided here – and content to come – will support you to:

  • lead a whole-school approach to literacy
  • understand the importance of phonics for early reading literacy
  • support teachers to use data to make evidence-informed decisions to improve literacy outcomes (such as the online Year 1 Phonics Check for Teachers)
  • work with families
  • strengthen your leadership skills in this area through targeted professional development.

Much of the new content will focus on the effective teaching of phonics as this is an area that has been contested in some schools and teacher training in previous decades. See Incorporating phonics below for more ideas.

Check out these featured resources.

Incorporating phonics

Using the Year 1 Phonics Check for Teachers

It's critically important to lay down a sound foundation for reading literacy. Phonics knowledge provides a great head start for young learners. Supporting a focus on phonics as a key element within your literacy strategy has been proven to make a difference with young learners.

Using the Year 1 Phonics Check for Teachers

The screening process provided insights we didn’t have before: it made teachers evaluate what was working [in their phonics teaching] and what refinements were needed. It made us ask questions, for example, why there were scattered results for a student compared with the other Big Six areas, and why we hadn’t picked it up before. It enabled us to hone in on an individual plan for individual students. Our teachers have good awareness of where their students are developmentally, but the phonics screening check gave us new insights. (2017 Phonics Trial principal, South Australia)

The Phonics Check is one way teachers can identify children who might need further specialist advice to support their reading progress. This assists teachers to refine and revise strategies to address gaps in student learning.

The Phonics Check is not compulsory; however, it has many benefits including helping teachers to check reading progress and to plan early interventions for those children who may be struggling.

How school leaders can promote phonics for reading success

School leaders can make a difference here. They can:

  • use data from tools such as the Phonics Check to underpin resourcing, professional learning and targeted programs for children
  • enable all teaching staff to learn about phonics through professional learning and team support
  • undertake their own professional learning
  • encourage mentoring of Year 1 teachers by experienced teachers with skills in teaching phonics and using tools such as the Phonics Check
  • communicate with families about strategies for supporting reading enjoyment and reading progress of their children
  • celebrate reading success across all subjects and school events
  • provide a rich reading environment in the school so that children can apply their skills in real-life contexts.
Professional learning

The Principals as Literacy Leaders (PALL) program has been designed to develop the capabilities of primary school principals as 'effective literacy leaders'. It is now available in five free online modules:

  • Leading learning: What does it take?
  • What leaders need to know about learning to read
  • Leading literacy data gathering and analysis
  • Designing, implementing and monitoring literacy interventions
  • Intervention evaluation and future planning

Access the report Principals as Literacy Leaders: Confident, credible and connected and a range of practical tools and strategies through this professional learning. The PALL program was initiated by the Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA) and was developed by Edith Cowan University, Griffith University and the Australian Catholic University.