Earlier this year, The Education Hub released a report titled, 'Now I don't know my ABC – the perilous state of literacy in Aotearoa New Zealand'. Their research raised concerns about literacy levels among New Zealand school children and suggested that nearly one in five 15-year-olds are not meeting the lowest reading benchmark.
At ACG Sunderland, we believe that the importance of teaching literacy and numeracy cannot be overstated, and we strive to ensure all our students perform to the highest standard in these crucial areas. Accordingly, our youngest primary learners are introduced to mathematics and English lessons from their very first day with us.
Early literacy and numeracy are the building blocks of all future learning, and our primary students enjoy a broad academic programme with a strong emphasis on reading, writing and mathematics. Establishing these abilities from each student's earliest years is vital because, without this underlying educational core, they will be unable to achieve in the high-stakes examinations they face during secondary school.
As a result, our structured approach to teaching enables our students to build a strong foundation of essential numeracy and literacy skills, which they continue to develop as they advance through school. Our specialist teachers also regularly review and assess every student's progress to ensure they are fully equipped with the disciplinary knowledge and learning competencies they need to flourish.
ACG Sunderland Primary School Principal Leanne Chartrand explains…
"The journey of teaching and learning literacy and numeracy starts on the first day of school, setting learners on an exciting educational journey and helping them to become confident, responsible, reflective, innovative and engaged. Literacy and numeracy provide a broad and balanced education in English and mathematics, empowering students to thrive throughout their schooling, work and life."
ACG Sunderland’s Primary programme provides an excellent basis for the next stages of education, as well as plenty of opportunities to develop creativity, expression and personal wellbeing.
"Teachers are able to shape the curriculum around how they want their students to learn, differentiate to meet each child's needs, and adapt the content to suit their students' context, culture and ethos. They're experts in ensuring the curriculum is meaningful and taught at the level students require."
The Cambridge curriculum underpins all learning, promoting an enquiry-based approach and developing students' confidence and intellectual engagement.
"Learners develop English skills that they can apply to a range of different purposes and audiences. They will communicate confidently and effectively and develop the critical skills to respond to a range of information, media and texts with understanding and enjoyment."
With six 50-minute periods of mathematics and 11 to 12 periods of English each week, students are given a variety of learning opportunities supported by clear and structured objectives. By knowing the plan for each day, they begin taking ownership of their learning from an early age. Not only that, but they develop a myriad of invaluable soft skills along the way, from problem-solving, decision making, and communication, to organisation, collaboration and leadership.
"Teachers develop these fundamental dispositions by targeting the curriculum in ways that provide a depth of understanding and meaningful learning. They also work hard to keep lessons fun and engaging by incorporating games, using technology, making lessons interactive, engaging with children's interests, and connecting learning to the real world."
ACG teachers share their students' passion for learning. And thanks to the school's strong commitment to regular professional development (PD), they are among the best in their field.
Currently, the Primary team are honing their skills by sharing best practice across a range of topics, from guided reading and spelling boosters to phonics building and differentiating maths for every learner. These PD sessions help teachers stay ahead in all aspects of classroom delivery and provide them with the skills to ensure every learner receives the tools and ongoing support their educational pathway requires.
"At ACG Sunderland, children are assessed by their teacher and those who are struggling are helped in class with differentiated work that meets their individual requirements. Students may also get referred for extra help through Learning Support and could have an IEP (Individual Education Programme) created for them by their teachers and parents. Children are given the tools they need and are supported to succeed through the various interventions their teacher has organised."
With regular benchmarking and evaluation in place (such as reading probes, basic facts questions and Primary progression and end-of-unit tests), teachers ensure students are thriving and can keep parents updated on their progress. In turn, parents are encouraged to communicate their questions and concerns with teachers because, as Leanne points out, success is a group effort.
"It's important that the teacher, child and parents work together as a team if the child is to reach their full potential."
By combining inspiring teaching and outstanding support, a robust curriculum and a strong network of checkpoints, ACG Sunderland students really are ideally placed for optimal engagement, maximum enjoyment and ultimately, educational success.