Colin Barnett

Colin Barnett


    Literacy and numeracy programs to be expanded under Coalition Government

    16/01/2001 1:49 PM

    Four hundred teachers will become literacy or numeracy specialists under a Coalition Government.

    These teachers would be especially trained to work with classroom teachers in schools where some students were not achieving literacy and numeracy benchmarks.

    Education Minister Colin Barnett said classroom teachers were the key to raising literacy and numeracy standards.

    Mr Barnett said this initiative would cost $650,000 in 2001-2002 increasing to $3.3 million in the fourth year.

    “Literacy and numeracy skills are the building blocks of education,” he said.

    “Without these essential skills, students will be unable to achieve the outcomes expected in all areas of the curriculum.

    “Children who read well usually do well in other subjects and are successful in education in their teen years and higher education.

    “Consequently, classroom teachers are the key to raising literacy and numeracy skills.

    “Specialist teachers will work with classroom teachers and help them devise strategies to raise literacy and numeracy standards among children having difficulty in these areas.

    “This year 130 teachers will be trained and begin working in 2002, 130 will be trained in 2002 beginning work in 2003 and another 140 will be trained in 2003 to begin work in 2004.”

    Mr Barnett said the Coalition - if elected - would establish ‘Switching on Reading’ and ’Playing with Numbers’ schemes.

    He said under the ‘Switching on to Reading’ program, every child would receive an appropriate book when starting school.

    Under the ‘Playing with Numbers’ scheme, parents would be encouraged to help their children develop an early understanding of mathematics.

    The Coalition would provide $300,000 each year for these initiatives with matching funding sought from individuals, community organisations and business and industry.

    “The importance of literacy and numeracy skills cannot be overstressed,” Mr Barnett said.

    “Assessments in these areas have seen Western Australian children in years three and five exceeding the national benchmarks.

    “Last year 87 per cent of students met or were exceeding the benchmarks, which was up from an average of 80 per cent in 1998 and 85 per cent in 1999.

    “From 2001, year seven students will also take part in national literacy and numeracy assessments.”

    Mr Barnett said in addition to the literacy and numeracy initiatives, the Coalition would expand the specialised services available to children with speech and language difficulties through Language Development Centres and their satellite classes.

    He said two new centres would be built as part of schools in Peel in 2002 and Joondalup in 2003.

    These new centres would provide an extra 300 places for students having difficulties in this area and each centre would cost about $1.1 million.

    The Coalition would also build on the $1.75 million over four years which was allocated in 2001-2001 to expand speech and language services by allocating a further $675,000 a year.

    This funding would:
    • from 2001 provide an extra 211 places in existing centres;
    • establish a State-wide outreach service with specialists in regional areas to help students not attending a centre;
    • train classroom teachers in the specialist skills of identifying and helping students with speech and language impairments;
    • provide resources for teachers; and -
    • allow for more research into speech and language.

    Mr Barnett said the Coalition was committed to expanding services for students whose second language was English.

    He said up to $1 million a year would be provided for the establishment of an Intensive Language Centre in the south-east corridor of Perth and an expansion of places in existing centres.

    “This year places in these centres are being offered to children on Temporary Protection Visas - refugees - and children of foreign nationals who marry Australian citizens,” Mr Barnett said.

    “These initiatives will add a further $9 million to the already extensive literacy and numeracy programs in place in our schools.”

    Media contact: Diana Callander 9222 9699