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Literacy Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Early literacy approach.

Early literacy approach

What is the early literacy approach?

The Ministry worked with literacy experts to develop an evidence-based literacy package to support learners in their first few years of schooling. It’s designed so all children can access the right supports at the right time.

There are three parts:

Ready to Read Phonics Plus

In order to become effective readers, students need to be able to:

  • “crack the code” in texts
  • make meaning from texts
  • think critically about texts.

The existing Ready to Read Colour Wheel books focus on making meaning and thinking critically and less on the code. The Ready to Read Phonics Plus books explicitly support students to learn to crack the code.

The books will be distributed to all schools with children in years 1–3, providing equitable access to free resources and guidance.

Better Start Literacy Approach

The  Better Start Literacy Approach | Te Ara Reo Matatini (BSLA) professional support will be delivered by the University of Canterbury during 2023. The Ministry is providing this professional support to literacy specialists, alongside new entrant and year 1 teachers, initially.

The professional support focuses on the link between spoken and written language forms, systematically supporting children’s early literacy learning including the use of the Ready to Read Phonics Plus books.

Reading Recovery and Early Literacy Support.
Reading Recovery and Early Literacy Support

From 2021 Reading Recovery will be known as Reading Recovery and Early Literacy Support. Reading Recovery Teachers will contribute to schools' literacy strategies. This will include working with class teachers, providing targeted group support and teaching individual children. 

Research informing the change

Studies including the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS, 2016), Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA 2018) and the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA 2019) indicated a need to look closely at how New Zealand teachers are approaching literacy learning.

The Massey University Early Literacy Research Project (August 2019) provided a series of training workshops emphasising explicit instruction and the use of associated materials to assist teachers to identify and respond to the specific literacy needs of children. Teacher workshops provided the knowledge and skills required to adopt explicit and systematic word-level decoding teaching strategies in their literacy instruction. The project showed that being taught effective word decoding skills are a necessary requirement for success in learning to read.

Education Gazette: Meeting the need – An enhanced approach to early literacy
Changes to support early literacy means a literacy approach that offers structured resources for learners in their first few years of schooling.

Updated on: 31 Mar 2021