The team at Longreach State School believe that literacy is the foundation of all learning.
'Leap into Literacy' is a whole-school approach that provides both teachers and students with a way of achieving positive literacy outcomes.
The program's goal is for all children to succeed in literacy by the end of their third year of schooling.
Prompted by the fact that students were performing below the state literacy mean in the 2002 Year 2 Diagnostic Net, Longreach State School established an early years literacy program for students in Years 1, 2 and 3.
The strategy involves a specialised writing program for Year 2 students, increased classroom involvement for the learning support teacher, teacher aides and parents, and a mentoring program for other early years teachers.
The Leap into Literacy program is now being considered for use in Years 4 to 7. Between Year 2 and Year 3 in 2004 and 2005, the number of students achieving the minimum district standard increased by 23 percent. Over the past four years, there has been a 45-percent increase in the number of Year 2 students achieving satisfactory reading levels.
Woorabinda State School is located in an isolated Indigenous community in central Queensland where students converse in Aboriginal English.
To help students from Years 1 to 3 develop their language skills at school, Woorabinda teachers have been using a specialist program called Walking Talking Text since 2003.
Teachers assess students' language needs to determine how they can help students develop an awareness of the differences between home language and school language. As students begin to understand the differences, they are able to make the transition over time to speaking, reading and writing Standard Australian English.
Teachers record samples of students' reading and verbal conversation and assess them against Indigenous Oral Bandscales benchmarks for Indigenous learners requiring support in English as a second language. Specially developed activities then help students focus on building their written and oral language skills.
Woorabinda students showed a 46-percent improvement in Year 2 Diagnostic Net results in 2005. There has also been a 64-percent increase in final Year 3 reading levels from 2002 to 2005.
Gladstone's Exodus Tutorial Centre is an innovative, intensive literacy program specifically designed for students at risk of disengaging from the education system.
The centre targets students, aged between 10 and 15 years of age, who have started a cycle of failure with literacy in regular classrooms. Thanks to a positive teaching approach and a program specifically adapted for the middle phase learners in the Gladstone community, these students return to their classes after 18 weeks with a different approach to learning.
Since being established in 2001, the centre has helped 173 students from 15 cluster schools to build their literacy skills and self-esteem. The centre uses strategies from Macquarie University's MULTILIT (Making Up for Lost Time in Literacy) program.
Students have experienced increases in reading age of up to 4.75 years. Their results have improved at a rate 26 percent higher in literacy and 40 percent higher in reading than the state mean improvement from Years 5 to 7 on the Statewide Literacy Tests. More than 98 percent of past students completed Year 10 or above, with 46 percent gaining full-time employment or apprenticeships and 52 percent enrolled in senior school or school-based apprenticeships programs
Inappropriate playground behaviour had been steadily rising at Longreach State School, resulting in high levels of lunchtime detentions.
In late 2003 behaviour management data indicated that students from Years 4 to 7 were more likely to receive detentions for inappropriate playground behaviour, and 62 percent of these students were also likely to re-offend.
Staff developed a strategy that empowered students through lunchtime activity programs by giving them opportunities to make appropriate behavioural choices. Revising the school's behaviour management policy also gave staff members the chance to regularly examine and strengthen personal and whole-school practices.
The LARF (Lunchtime Activities, Relaxation and Friendship) program has achieved a 33-percent improvement in the behaviour of students from Years 4 to 7.
The program resulted in a 10 percent decrease in the number of middle year students requiring detention and a 50 percent decrease in the number of re-offenders.
The first three years of schooling are the foundation for literacy development and it is crucial that difficulties are addressed early.
The Early Literacy Project was established in 2003 as a joint initiative between Gladstone West State School and the Faculty of Education and Creative Arts at Central Queensland University's Gladstone Campus.
Bachelor of Learning Management student teachers undertake part of their English coursework at Gladstone West State School and help teachers deliver intensive literacy programs to students.
Gladstone West teachers have undertaken specialist training with literacy experts and researched and developed a school-based reading program that features literacy development opportunities for individual students, groups and classes.
The program's success has prompted two other local schools to join the initiative. According to Year 2 Diagnostic Net data between 2002 and 2005, the percentage of students requiring additional support in reading, writing and number has dropped by up to 11 percent, to 18.4 percent of students, with a state mean of 24.7 percent. This is mirrored by an 11-percent increase in Year 3 Test spelling results between 2002 and 2005.
Introduced in 2005, Glenmore's Health Promotion Strategy helps young people to manage their own health needs effectively and to make healthy lifestyle choices.
This program includes full support and early implementation of the Smart Choices Nutrition Policy, which becomes mandatory for state schools in 2007, and implementing the 10,000 Steps Project, where participation rates have increased from just under50 percent of students to just under 75 percent of students in the past three years.
At the strategy's outset, 10 teachers delivered the health promotion curriculum, but now 28 teachers from all departments in the school are responsible for its delivery. The curriculum was created in consultation with professional staff such as the school-based nurse, chaplain, guidance counsellor, schools-based police officer and beacon coordinator.
A committee of relevant partners, including teachers, students, parents, support staff and external agencies including a Central Queensland University adolescent health researcher, oversees the ongoing monitoring and development of the program.
The Health Promotion Strategy was supported by a Central Queensland University research program, Creating Healthy Adolescents in the School Environment (CHASE) Project, that surveyed the school's students on their health and activity status. That researcher was a key partner in the development of the strategy.
The school's students will hold an expo during State Education Week 2006 highlighting all they have learnt about healthy choices.
Longreach School of Distance Education has demolished the distance barrier between students and teachers with the implementation of data conferencing.
Students and their teachers can now communicate via the internet using a digital whiteboard in real time. Teachers can watch students working via their computer and for the first time can provide live examples and demonstrations to help improve understanding. Students now have the opportunity to see their peers work and become part of a virtual classroom.
Introduced in 2005, data conferencing provided a way to deliver lessons that allowed more direct teaching time.
Although the project has only been in existence since Term 3, 2005 anecdotal evidence shows the approach has already been very successful.
Feedback from parents and teachers shows that the school's 200 students are more motivated about learning. Teachers have indicated that this new way of delivering lessons gives them more time to help students achieve their learning goals.
Through its vision to become 'Better and Brighter' Berserker Street State School is committed to improving the literacy levels of all its students.
The development of a whole-school literacy plan has been pivotal in improving the results of students, especially in writing.
Using the school's resources as a Literacy Learning and Development Centre, teachers engaged in specialist training in literacy education in 2002, prompted by the need to focus on writing standards in Years 2, 3, 5 and 7.
Daily uninterrupted literacy blocks devoted to class and group reading and writing activities are a key feature of the program. Teachers have also opened their classrooms to local university education students and teachers from other schools. Coordinated monitoring, assessment and adapted class programs are also achieving results for students.
Data collected in recent years shows great improvement in the writing standards of Year 7 students. As Year 2 students in 2000, their writing results were 11 percent below the state mean. Five years later, the group achieved writing results more than five percent above the state mean. The program has also inspired high levels of satisfaction from both teachers and parents.
School science departments in the Gladstone area have joined forces with industry to improve the quality of science education and encourage students to pursue careers in the sciences.
Established in 1991, the Gladstone Schools and Industry Science Group has worked to mobilise resources and boost teachers' professional skills. The Gladstone Area Maths, Science and Engineering Teachers (GAMSET) initiative focuses on creating partnerships between schools and industry.
Partnerships exist with local industry including Boyne Island Smelters, Queensland Alumina LTD and Callide Power. Schools now have access to a growing number of resources, visits to industry sites, specialist training, a university based Science Challenge, guest speakers and learning extension programs.
Efforts by GAMSET and the Gladstone Schools and Industry Science Group are influencing student performance and the popularity of scientific careers. Gladstone students' performance in chemistry, multistrand science, physics and biology is above the state mean, and 40 percent of students' first tertiary preferences in 2005 were in scientific fields. Almost 10 percent of students selected natural and physical sciences as their first preference, while national data shows just one-percent of tertiary graduates currently specialising in the physical sciences.