"The flow between quality classroom teaching, ELS groups and Reading Recovery is working really well, and allows us to cater to the diverse learning needs within our kura."
The implementation of the Better Start Literacy Approach (BSLA) with Reading Recovery and Early Literacy Support (ELS) has been a success, resulting in a more cohesive and effective approach to teaching literacy, says a school that has integrated the programmes.
“The flow between quality classroom teaching, ELS groups and Reading Recovery is working really well, and allows us to cater to the diverse learning needs within our kura,” says Ōtūmoetai Primary School Deputy Principal - Junior School Jill Miller.
“They complement each other and, at each tier, the instruction is increasingly responsive to children’s learning.”
Reading Recovery Tutor Bernadette Hiha says that schools using the combination of BSLA, Reading Recovery and ELS are implementing an AND + AND approach which benefits all children.
“It is about ensuring that our ākonga have equitable access to quality teaching and resources they need to learn so that they can be successful,” she says.
One of the key benefits of implementing BSLA, Reading Recovery and ELS is that classroom teachers and Reading Recovery teachers are ‘on the same page’.
“Teachers are now speaking a common language in literacy instruction,” says Jill.
“We have teachers observing and sharing best practice with each other on a regular basis and we are committed to ensuring that every child has access to quality class, group or individual teaching when they need it.”
At Ōtūmoetai Primary School the BSLA programme is used in the Year 0 - 2 classes with some Year 3 children, while the Reading Recovery and ELS approach is integrated across the junior school. After 20 weeks at school (tier one), tamariki who have not made expected progress join the ELS groups (tier two).
Following 10 weeks of small group teaching, tamariki who don’t make expected progress are added to the Reading Recovery Identification Sheet (tier three) which provides one-on-one support.
Jill says this process ensures that no child misses out. “We are constantly monitoring student progress to make the necessary adjustments to the type of intervention we provide,” she says.
Student data determines the number of individual Reading Recovery spaces and ELS groups the school runs.
“We continuously review and adjust our intervention programme based on the evidence from assessment data, which enables us to allocate resources effectively and cater for the diversity of our students’ learning needs,” says Jill.
The integration of the programmes at Ōtūmoetai Primary School has proven successful with results evident throughout each tier.
Classroom teachers have found children are learning the alphabet code quickly, and are able to use this knowledge to decode and encode words with increasing confidence, while the ELS children are benefitting from additional small group teaching alongside quality classroom instruction, says Jill.
“The small group intensive instruction at the earlier stage of their school journey not only grants the opportunity for foundational knowledge acquisition, but is also a confidence boost in their own abilities,” she says, adding that these students are then able to interact more actively during class lessons.
Reading Recovery students are making accelerated progress in their learning, moving through the colour levels steadily.
BSLA, Reading Recovery and ELS all incorporate phonological awareness and letter sound knowledge, both links to reading and writing, says Jill.
“The implementation of BSLA has been well resourced,” she says, adding that the Phonic Plus resources provided by the Ministry of Education are used in class and small groups, and a range of texts are used in Reading Recovery.
Feedback from ākonga in ELS groups and Reading Recovery has been positive, with some so excited to learn they show up before it’s even their turn.
When asked why they enjoyed being part of ELS sessions, one child told Jill it was because ‘someone doesn’t say the answer before I can finish my thinking - I get my turn’.
Responses from whānau have also been enlightening, and help the tier two and tier three teachers respond to the child’s learning, cultural and social needs, says Jill.
“A strong learning partnership with whānau is paramount, and we’ve found whānau to be very appreciative of Reading Recovery and ELS..”