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Little learners lap up winning lessons - Showcase Early Years

31 August 2011

By Rebecca Perry

The state's smallest students are enjoying big achievements thanks to programs selected as finalists in the Department of Education and Training's annual Showcase Awards for Excellence in Schools.

Vying for a share in more than $370,000, they are contesting the Network Ten Showcase Award for Excellence in the Early Phase of Learning - one of eight categories shining the spotlight on state school successes.

Kick start to learning

Team effort ... Bald Hills teacher aide Leeora Hill works with pupils Hannah Scott and Cooper Ray

Team effort ... Bald Hills teacher aide Leeora Hill works with pupils Hannah Scott and Cooper Ray.

At Bald Hills State School, games of Twister to improve motor skills, reading groups and help for parents are among strategies helping youngsters understand early learning concepts.

A range of programs, some which have been running for more than 10 years, embrace a 'team effort' which supports and extends children's learning and development.

'We have some children who weren't as good at doing some things but these programs have created a marked and significant improvement in our results,' said learning support teacher Jinty Bird, who coordinates the program with teachers and specialists including a speech language pathologist.

The number of students in the bottom 20 per cent of NAPLAN number results has dropped from 22.9 per cent to 4.1 per cent, while there are now more children ranking in the top 20 per cent.

Success in literacy

Literacy success ... Glenden students Ella-Marie Barr and Meah Wilkinson

Literacy success ... Glenden students Ella-Marie Barr and Meah Wilkinson.

Glenden State School began its journey to literacy success in 2008 with a shake up of its structure –developing individual student profiles to track and monitor progress, and creating consistency in everything from the way it teaches children to the language used by staff.

Now, principal Don McDermid says the hard work is paying off with strong improvements in NAPLAN scores, the Year 2 Net and school benchmark data.

'In last year's NAPLAN results, all five strands were higher than the national mean and parent satisfaction has soared by 24 per cent which shows growing community confidence,' he said.

Central to the program's success is a daily two-hour uninterrupted literacy block which focuses on reading comprehension and writing skills. Children are also helped by volunteering parents and a Support-a-Reader initiative.

GAME (Getting a Meaningful Education)

GAME on ... Getting ready for school at Quilpie

GAME on ... Getting ready for school at Quilpie.

At Quilpie State College, the old saying that it 'takes a village to raise a child' comes to life through the GAME program, in its second year of helping children and their families prepare for school.

Facilitated by a teacher and Indigenous education worker one morning each week in the local hall, it gives parents and children aged up to five the chance to learn literacy and numeracy skills through play.

'Parents are a child's first teachers so we give them tools they can use in everyday contexts, and children are entering Prep better prepared,' said teacher Krystal Cathcart.

The program is also strengthening relationships between families, teachers and allied health services including speech and language pathologists, dieticians and family counsellors with better immunisation and tooth care among the benefits.

The Showcase winners will be announced at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on October 21.