THIRTY-FOUR schools in remote locations across the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland will from next year roll out the “old-school” literacy program trialled in Aboriginal communities on Cape York Peninsula.
Cape York leader Noel Pearson told The Australian the right education policies coupled with fully functioning schools were the keys to the viability of remote communities: “These children and the communities and families that support them will show that these places are viable.”
The expansion, in part funded by $22 million in federal funding, will see the schools take up Direct Instruction and Explicit Direct Instruction at the start of next year.
DI, the focus of the Cape York pilot scheme, makes children sound out words in old-school style, led by a teacher at the front of the classroom, and works from a tightly scripted lesson plan.
Funding the intensive teaching approach is part of Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s back-to-basics drive to shake up teaching methods and standards, as the government reviews the national curriculum.
Schools include Borroloola School, Angurugu School and Ntaria School — all in the NT — and Western Cape College in Weipa, among others.
Mr Pearson has championed pilot schemes of Direct Instruction and Explicit Instruction methods in the townships of Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and at an indigenous college near Cairns.
EDI gives teachers a step-by-step guide to creating and applying structured lessons, and supports classroom management strategies and regular monitoring of student progress.
Welcoming the announcement, Mr Pearson said there was finally a chance to make a real change in the education kids were receiving.
Good to Great Schools Australia, chaired by Mr Pearson, will carry out the remote-area rollout in conjunction with the states. The schools chosen were the most remote and among the most disadvantaged in Australia, he said.
“They represent the most challenging schools to support in the entire Australian school system, but these schools and the teachers and principals that serve them represent the best hope for these children and their communities having a future.”
Government schools, Catholic schools and community schools were all involved in the rollout. “There are also non-indigenous students and indigenous students at various schools,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what background you come from, the two programs we are offering, Direct Instruction and Explicit Direct Instruction, will be a boon for all children.”
“The very future of these places is at stake here. These children have to become educated. The schools are most important element in the future of these communities.”
Mr Pyne said these approaches had proven successful in early pilots and would expand the reach of Direct Instruction and Explicit Direct Instruction to other remote schools that had struggled to achieve minimum national standards for many of their students.
“We know that Direct Instruction and Explicit Direct Instruction teaching methods work. Teachers in these remote primary schools will receive professional development and support to gain the specific knowledge and skills they need to use these approaches with their students.
“I commend these schools and their commitment to improving literacy outcomes and I look forward to hearing about their progress and achievements.”
Under DI, students are taught carefully sequenced and highly structured lessons and are required to “master” each lesson before advancing to the next.
EDI is based on the premise that teachers can significantly improve achievement for all learners by implementing effective, well-crafted lessons. EDI teaches students in a systematic and structured way and provides a framework for both instructional design and delivery.