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ECU researchers seek to improve literacy and leadership in needy schools

Wednesday, 18 March 2009


Researchers at Edith Cowan University's (ECU) Institute for Educational Research and Development have been awarded $430,000 in funding from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) to improve literacy outcomes in disadvantaged schools.

Principals as Literacy Leaders is a national project involving the Australian Primary Principals Association, Griffith University and the Australian Catholic University.

The project aims to develop a research-based program to enhance the leadership capabilities of primary school principals to improve literacy education in needy schools.

Commencing at the end of March, the project involves 60 representatives from low socio-economic schools and indigenous communities in Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Principals will attend a series of professional development workshops, providing them with knowledge, skills and support materials to take back to their schools.

They'll then be able to work with teachers, students and parents to foster effective literacy teaching.

Principals as Literacy Leaders is a pilot project, and if successful, will be implemented in schools across Australia to help progress towards the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) national literacy targets.

The two-year project is being led at ECU by Professor Greg Robson, Head of the School of Education along with Associate Professor Deslea Konza and Dr Graeme Lock.

Professor Robson says that children may suffer later in life without strong literacy skills.

"This is one way we can close the gap between high and low achieving students, schools and their communities," he says.

"Improved literacy in Australian schools will ultimately result in more students completing Year 12."

The School of Education has also received $60,000 in funding from the Department of Education and Training to assess the effectiveness of a leadership program, titled IDEAS, for high school principals in 12 WA schools.

IDEAS focuses on improving leadership capabilities in schools and it was developed by an expert team from Queensland.

The ECU study will provide the Department for Education and Training with advice on the benefits of IDEAS in assisting school leaders to develop clear directions for their schools.

The Institute for Educational Research and Development is based within the School of Education at Edith Cowan University.

ECU Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor John Finlay-Jones says that literacy and leadership are life skills and these projects have the potential to benefit thousands of Australian children.

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