The goal is for students to learn to read, so they can read to learn.
It’s Education Week, an opportunity for education and care services to commemorate the past, celebrate the present and imagine the future of education in Victoria. In this important week we celebrate and shine a light on one of Greater Shepparton Foundation’s major projects that has an early education focus, our Oral Language Intervention project, affectionately known as OLI.
OLI is providing young children in three public primary schools and two kindergartens in Mooroopna with the best start in their vital and influential Foundation years. The goal is for students to learn to read, so they can read to learn; and we are seeing OLI participants achieve wonderful results.
In fact, student assessments in 2021 comparing Foundation students in the OLI program with students from Grade 1 and 2, showed a trend of Foundation students outperforming their older counterparts in literacy skills. And, on average, the OLI students are on a higher results trajectory in comparison with those that did not receive this support.
OLI is a donor-funded, evidence-based project using synthetic phonics instruction to provide intensive intervention to improve student language and literacy, leading to more effective learning and engagement.
We know early intervention in oral language development is key to changing educational outcomes of students, improving their readiness for learning and to take advantage of the opportunities education will afford them. OLI not only aims to improve education outcomes but also the trajectory of young people’s lives and their ability to find and maintain meaningful employment later in life.
Working closely with both students and teachers, our school-based speech pathologists develop curriculum to target student literacy skills adopting a “teach the teacher” approach so that the program becomes embedded into the way students are taught in all classrooms, developing a culture of learning that is producing exciting results.
OLI is a staged project and although only in its third year we are thrilled with the results to date.
Our evaluation methods not only allow us to measure the data, we also capture the stories of those involved, here is what some had to say:
“I swear by this program. It’s the first year I’ve done it, but the success I’ve seen this year, as opposed to last year, is nothing short of amazing.” – Teacher
“My daughter is in Prep here. This is her first year of schooling. We were driving along recently and she asked, ‘What does romantic mean?’ – she had read it on a road sign that we were driving past. She wanted to turn the oven on for me the other day, she ran over and said, ‘Do we want fan bake or fan grill?’ She’s reading at a level that makes life easy now.” – Parent
‘Learning to read, so you can read to learn’ is something that we believe all should have equal opportunity to do. This program speaks directly to Greater Shepparton Foundation’s goal of creating equal opportunities for everyone in our community to participate, and early years education is a major focus.