Socio-economically disadvantaged students and the development of literacies in school: A Longitudinal Study. This project took place between 1998 and April 2001 and was jointly funded by the Australian Research Council and the Disadvantaged
This project took place between 1998 and April 2001 and was jointly
funded by the Australian Research Council and the Disadvantaged
Schools Component of the Commonwealth Literacy Program in the
Department of Education, Training and Employment.
The study focused on the literacy learning of 21 children in three
department schools from Year 3 to Year 5.
The study and final report was completed by a team of UniSA
researchers - Barbara Comber, Lynne Badger, Jenny Barnett and
Helen Nixon, working with Jane Pitt, a teacher at Renmark Primary
The report outlines a range of important findings for learners and
educators in the Primary Years Band.
The published report comprises a one volume overview of key issues
and two volumes of case studies.
The purpose of this presentation is to provide a selection of the key findings and implications of the research. While this information may have particular resonance for educators working with students from low socio - economic backgrounds, it is highly relevant to all teachers in the Primary Years Band.
Further reading is available:-
Barbara Comber, Lynne Badger, Jenny Barnett, Helen Nixon and Jane Pitt ( This article first appeared in the Australian Journal of Literacy , June 2002 Volume 25 No.2 )
The Primary Years:- development of literacies in the middle primary
“ a crucial period where children are establishing their personal, social and academic identities, where they are thinking about who they are and who they can be.”
“ Every where there are children growing up in a differently literate world than that which we inhabited as children and as adults: where different proficiencies count (searching the Internet and making a web page) : and where the possibilities for representing meaning are vast and ever-expanding.”
Comber, Badger, Barnett, Nixon and Pitt
Literacy after the Early Years: a longitudinal study
Australian Journal of Language and Literacy October 2001
Students demonstrate a vast range of literate practices,
Some students have linguistic, cultural and literate capital or
resources which match those valued by the school, some do not.
eg. Schools tend to value
Schools tend to undervalue
Students’ social identities and relationships impinge and impact on
their school work and literate practices
A prominent feature of primary years is that teaching and learning is
planned and managed over longer periods of time - eg. novels are
serialised, work contracts extend over time
Layers of information and multiple tasks delivered simultaneously
mean priorities are often unclear for some students
Primary years literacies feature practices and ways of organising
curriculum which are different from the early literacy years.
Primary years tasks are multi- layered, multi dimensional and
conducted over extended periods of time
The academic curriculum for middle primary school onwards
require that students read and write well and are able to learn new
concepts and information through their engagement with texts
It is assumed that students’ work in the primary years will include
communicative depth, quality, detail and interest
Literacy is a tool for learning, an object of learning and a social
practice needed for membership of the school community
Students are expected to acquire self- reflective practices as a key
move in becoming independent
Primary years students assemble different literate repertoires
Students acquire school literacies via different patterns of development
Primary schooling requires students to produce longer and more
complex pieces of work in more independent contexts.
It is vital that teachers support students to address these demands by:-
As curriculum becomes more complex and multi dimensional and
learning is integrated across the curriculum, explicit instructions,
repetition and rehearsal is needed.
Primary teachers have a crucial role in inducting students into new
academic content, work practices and literacies
Professional development which targets the specific needs of primary
Models of literacy development need to take into account the
practices of primary years students in and out of school
It is important that teachers :-
Students are growing up in a world where different proficiencies count and meaning can be represented in a variety of ways, our teaching, learning and assessing programs should reflect this.