Appendix 4: Supporting oral language learning and development in schools

Table 1: Matrix of practice in schools

Well-focused schools (35 percent)

Schools with some focus (36 percent)

School with limited or no focus (29  percent)

> There were effective transition-to-school programmes in these schools, often starting several weeks prior to the new entrant beginning school.

> There was both formal assessment and informal daily monitoring of oral language practices in the early months at school.

> Class teachers observed, talked with and listened to children during the regular class programme in order to see who might need additional support.

> Schoolwide progressions made oral language learning expectations clear.

> Oral language progress was regularly shared with students and parents.

> Levels or indicators guided teacher monitoring and planning for next steps.

> Teachers were expected to have an oral language component in their planning, as part of their daily literacy programme.

> Teachers were also expected to use these regular teaching sessions to identify students with oral language learning difficulties requiring a specific response. They received PLD as needed.

> School leaders ensured that all children had exposure to planned oral language teaching daily and across learning areas.

> Students identified as having higher level oral language difficulties were referred to senior teachers and might be assessed by a Speech Language Therapist. They might then be assisted by specially trained teachers or teacher aides.

If necessary, external support sought.

> School leaders promoted the importance of oral language, monitored progress for targeted learners and refined interventions where necessary.

The oral language responsiveness of this group of schools included:

> some transfer of information to the new entrant teacher at  the point of school entry, but not always checked with early learning service or parental viewpoints

> attention to oral language learning needs at the point of entry (or shortly thereafter), but less systematically organised than in the schools in the well-focused group

> some interventions in areas of high need and some addressing specific concerns in the new entrants’ class

> some monitoring of oral language progress in the first  year, but typically not continued in any systematic way into Years 2 and 3, except for individuals of particular concern

> some literacy (including aspects of oral language) expertise and leadership available as supports for teachers, but typically no specific oral language PLD for teachers, and no specific early literacy training for teacher aides

> less well-defined oral language progressions than the well-focused schools

> literacy programmes were not as rich as those in the well-focused schools

> little or no internal evaluation of oral language interventions and their impact.

There was little evidence of responsiveness to oral language learning needs in these schools, or attempt to create coherence in approach.

Features of the lack of responsiveness of schools in this group included:

− little attention to oral language learning at the point of school entry

− no or few formal expectations for oral language development over Years 1 to 3

− little or no monitoring or assessment of student progress in oral language learning

− few helpful resources or supports for either teachers or students that related specifically to oral language.

> When students with particular difficulties in speaking or listening were identified in these schools, some took action, including use of external specialists, but there was no specific follow through by class teachers.

> Internal evaluation was weak or non-existent across schools in this group.