A new report by the Transforming Education through Dialogue (TED) Project, Curriculum Development Unit, Mary Immaculate College (MIC), Limerick, highlights the need for reading material that focuses on post-primary students’ motivation to read and that is designed to give students a greater sense of achievement and success. The Report was officially launched in MIC on Monday 23 March by Mayor of the Metropolitan District of Limerick, Michael Sheahan.
Improving Literacy Outcomes – Bridging the Gap, is an analysis of the literacy needs of young people aged 12-18 years as identified by teachers in fourteen post-primary schools and other education settings. The purpose of the report was to establish the levels of support needed by teachers and students in developing literacy skills with a particular focus on skills required to improve outcomes for life, living and learning. Literacy skills include reading, writing, oracy and spelling.
The report authors, Fiona O’ Connor (TED Project, MIC) and Dr. Ann Higgins (TED Project, MIC) found that teachers believe the key to motivating and engaging their students in reading is capturing their attention through reading materials on subjects that interest students including: stories and factual texts about cars, horses or footballers lives; detective and crime stories; local newspapers and magazines related to individual interests such as pets, cars and parenting.
In the research, teachers acknowledged the range of existing supports and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) currently available at post-primary level. They also indicated that they would be interested in further CPD, particularly in targeted subject specific literacy development techniques and strategies, as well as opportunities to share the strategies and methods they had already developed with other teachers.
Speaking at the launch the authors stated:
‘What the research has shown us is that, in order to ensure all students achieve relevant literacy skills to engage with the academic demands of education and indeed for life, the necessary supports need to be in the right places and administered appropriately to support the students’ progression. The staff delivering such supports and the relationships they build with children are key factors in the success of such programmes.’
Resulting from these findings the report recommends:
1) Acknowledging and recognising the expertise of the schools involved in the research;
2) Strategic development and sharing of expertise across schools;
3) Whole school as well as targeted approaches to literacy development and CPD, and
4) The development and wider availability of resources and materials related to themes in which students are interested.
Launching the report, Mayor of the Metropolitan District of Limerick, Michael Sheahan, complimented the authors and all involved in the report stating ‘I would like to pay special tribute to everyone involved in compiling the report which is most informative in detail and focused in its findings, recommendations, conclusions, and proposed actions. I would especially like to compliment the TED Project in the Curriculum Development Unit, which works in partnership with local schools and organisations on behalf of Mary Immaculate College’.
Professor Eugene Wall, Vice President Academic Affairs, Mary Immaculate College thanked the schools and teachers who participated in the research with the TED Project and noted the commitment of TED to embody both the Mission Statement of MIC which ‘strives to promote equity in society and to provide an environment where all have freedom and opportunity to achieve their full potential’, and the aim of the MIC Strategic Plan which talks about ‘Making a positive difference in our community, locally, regionally, nationally and globally’.
Also speaking at the launch Professor Teresa O’ Doherty, Dean of Education at Mary Immaculate College, acknowledged the greater demands in literacy that students experience on the transfer from primary to post-primary level and stated that: ‘Children have the right to be supported to achieve their potential in all areas of their lives, including literacy skills attainment…. This report recognises the need to target resources to ensure equity of outcomes, it calls for strengthening the link between schools and parents and also highlights the importance of addressing the barriers that hinder children from attending or completing school’.
She continued that the report by the TED project adds to our knowledge of how our schools are addressing the needs of our young people and offers a window into the challenges and opportunities which exist.
The TED Project aims to create a connection between the expertise of College staff and the identified needs of schools, voluntary and statutory groups to address issues of equity of outcome in education.
For further information on the report, please contact Dr. Ann Higgins on [email protected] or log onto the TED website here.
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