Principal David Mann and Literacy Leader Anna Christofis were moved to action after identifying a drop in literacy performance at their school. Recognising that they needed support to make improvements, they enrolled in Bastow’s Creating a High Performance Learning Culture course.
Park Ridge Primary School had maintained a strong track record in literacy for some years. However, in 2015, the school noticed a drop in the literacy performance of students across all levels after receiving lower than expected NAPLAN results.
David Mann, the school’s principal, took decisive action to turn the school’s literacy levels around.
As a strong believer in leading by example, David enrolled himself, a leading teacher and two classroom teachers in the Creating a High Performance Learning Culture course at Bastow.
‘We felt it was a good time to look at just how we were teaching and how our reading program was being delivered across the school,’ says David.
The course was ideal for the team in that it offered them the opportunity to carefully investigate and analyse evidence from their own context to better understand their existing approach and how well it aligns and connects with the Victorian curriculum.
Anna Christofis, a team member and a foundation teacher, literacy leader and library coordinator, had a vested interest in improving the school’s performance in literacy. Anna saw the course as a way to integrate literacy into a positive learning moment, making it a natural element of every student’s school experience.
Throughout the course, the team reported back to the other staff, providing updates and sharing what they were learning. Curriculum days were also spent expanding that learning and planning in a collaborative environment.
‘The whole school had input, rather than just the four people in the team,’ says David. ‘We wanted people on that journey rather than just saying, “Look, we've got a plan, and here it is”.’
Bastow’s facilitator coach was a vital part of the team, boosting flagging morale, keeping them on track when they lost focus, and offering insight gained from many years’ experience.
Park Ridge Primary School have every reason to be proud of their achievements in improving literacy. The entire school has embraced initiatives like ‘book boxes’, keeping books and stories in plain view of students; ‘reading conferences’ between teachers and students to set individual literacy goals; and the development of a comprehensive literacy document and resource kit so that all teaching staff have access to a consistent source.
David recognises the importance of this common understanding and language around literacy.
‘I feel confident you could walk into this school tomorrow, walk up to any of my teachers and say, “Tell me what literacy looks like”, and they would be far more articulate than before—everyone is on the same page.’
Creating a High Performance Learning Culture supports the Positive Climate for Learning initiative within the Education State Framework for Improving Student Outcomes.