From the Principal, Peter Murphy

14 September 2017

Improved literacy equals improved learning

Mary MacKillop Catholic College, along with all other Toowoomba Catholic Diocesan schools has embarked on a major strategy to improve student literacy. The focus is on reading.

As part of the Diocesan Reading Improvement Strategy (RIS), all teachers of students from prep to year four are receiving four days of intensive training on the teaching of reading.

This training will be extended to teachers of years five to nine in 2018. Teachers are learning how to conduct a highly effective reading classroom.

Some of the features of such a classroom include clear learning intentions and success criteria whereby both the teacher and students have great clarity around what is to be learned and how they will know that they have succeeded. Teachers must be seen by students as readers and role models for reading. Teachers must pose critical questions and develop creative thinking in reading.

The approach to reading is one of gradual release of responsibility such as students reading with the teacher, students reading collaboratively and students reading independently. Modelled, shared, guided and independent reading are common instructional approaches. Included in the learning are explicit teaching through teacher modelling, small group reading sessions and collaborative reading between teacher and student, and student and student.

Daily independent reading of at least 15 to 30 minutes is vital as the volume of reading students do on their own is significantly related to the gains in reading achievement. Stamina or demand reading will also be practiced to build up students’ concentration and perseverance levels and to develop fluency. Teachers will conference with individual students to further assist in moving them forward during guided or independent reading.

Productive student discussions and questioning before, during and after the reading process will help build meaning making and critical and creative thinking. Students will discuss and pose questions around the texts of real authors and not just levelled texts. Time for reading is crucial.

Recognising this, the school has allocated significant additional time dedicated to the development of our students as readers.

The College looks forward to a future of improved literacy for our students and corresponding improved learning in all areas.

The future of learning at Mary MacKillop Catholic College is bright.


Wishing all families a safe and relaxing holiday.

God Bless

Peter Murphy

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