New literacy centre and reading clinic

Faculty of Education and Arts Executive Dean Professor Mary Ryan announces new literacy centre and reading clinic.

The Faculty of Education and Arts at ACU will establish an Australian Centre for the Advancement of Literacy next year to generate knowledge and translation in early years literacy and effective interventions across the years of schooling. There are strong links between reading, writing and oral language skills in early literacy and these foundations are crucial for school and life success.

Federal and state governments have recently announced an increased focus on professional learning for teachers, which is among a suite of measures intended to address a need for evidence-based practices in the teaching of reading. This need was identified in the Quality Initial Teacher Education Review (QITER), released by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment earlier this year. QITER found there was a shortage of teacher educators and researchers with expertise in early reading, particularly in explicit and systematic translation of evidence-based instruction to classrooms.

As the largest provider of graduate teachers in Australia and home to the internationally recognised Institute of Learning Sciences and Teacher Education and Institute of Positive Psychology and Education, ACU is committed to evidence-based practices in teaching. Research is also a vital part of the university, and ACU is increasingly recognised for the expertise of our research community and their collaboration with industry and sector partners. In the last month more than $2.1 million was awarded in ARC Discovery grants, for research led by our faculty and institutes and in collaboration with other universities. One of these new projects, led by Professor Clarence Ng our Associate Dean Research, focuses on improving disadvantaged students’ writing engagement and achievement. By determining why these students are disproportionately represented among those who fall below minimum benchmarks in national testing, provisions can be applied to address obstacles that hamper engagement and development.

The university represents a 200-year legacy of Catholic education in the country, and we appreciate the importance of adapting our practices to meet the needs of Australian teachers and school children.

From April 2023, the new Australian Centre for the Advancement of Literacy will build a concentration of leading researchers in literacy and reading with five key aims to:
1. Build expertise in early literacy, adolescent literacy interventions and reading research,
2. Support evidence-based ITE programs and postgraduate courses in early reading instruction and interventions,
3. Deliver evidence-based custom/short courses for school systems, schools and teachers in
early literacy, reading and writing instruction and literacy interventions,
4. Provide a reading clinic open to the public including services online across the country, and
5. Build a world-class research group in early years and adolescent reading.

I am delighted to say that we have already made our first appointment, a specialist with deep expertise in the translation of phonics and the science of reading into classrooms, and we are appointing additional staff across our campuses for this exciting new venture. We will also be seeking expressions of interest from the leaders in the field, both nationally and internationally.

Key positions to be appointed are for roles in teaching and research, as well as clinic staff with qualifications in diagnosis and treatment of reading difficulties.

If you are interested in one of these academic and professional roles with the new literacy centre and reading clinic, I encourage you to submit an expression of interest by Sunday 8 January.

This initative will develop collaborations with schools and systems across the education sector to ensure teachers have access to professional learning and co-designed classroom interventions based on the latest research. 

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