The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF) is a registered national charity dedicated to raising language, literacy and numeracy standards in Australia. ALNF’s programs provide training, support and resources that address the literacy learning needs of individuals, families and communities across Australia – specifically targeting Indigenous, refugee and disadvantaged Australians.
ALNF’s Early Language & Literacy (EL&L) Maryborough Project is a best practice program for early years education that incorporates speech and language pathology principles expressly designed to optimise the language and literacy outcomes of vulnerable children aged 0-8. Many of these children suffer from language and development delays, as well as additional challenges resulting from entrenched social disadvantage.
The EL&L program consists of an Australian Skills Quality Authority accredited Certificate IV course, skill-building workshops, resource provision and ongoing mentoring for participants and participating sites (e.g. community preschools).
The training and ongoing support empowers communities, educators, parents and carers with effective techniques and learning resources to teach their own children the foundational language and literacy skills required for success at school and in later life.
The EL&L Maryborough Project aims to:
• Improve pre-literacy levels of all participating children.
• Improve children’s school readiness in relation to early language and literacy measures.
• Increase the skills and capabilities of educators, parents and community members to improve children’s pre-literacy skills.
• Build sustainable change and capacity within the community to empower individuals to be their own change makers.
The initiative’s whole of community approach is built on a sustainable model, which means that the skills participants gain remain in the community, ensuring that children in Maryborough continue to be taught the literacy skills needed to participate fully in education and later life.
As vulnerability in literacy levels in the early years is a predictor of limited opportunities in areas of education, work and access to health care (MCRI, 2013), the early intervention provided by EL&L aims to improve the future health, income and life outcomes of the community.
Since its initial implementation in 2013, the EL&L Maryborough Project has gone from strength to strength. For example, in 2017, 95% of tested children participating in the EL&L program improved their phonemic awareness skills -widely acknowledged as the vital precursor to future reading success and development.
Funding from the Collier Charitable Fund has enabled ALNF to further embed EL&L teaching strategies and resources in the community and continue to build on the success of the Project to date, ensuring that hundreds of disadvantaged children in Maryborough are taught the skills required to engage in school and gain full access to future educational and employment opportunities.
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