ERO Citations relating to Reading Together®

Educationally powerful connections and relationships

On the Education Review Office site, within the School Evaluation Indicators section, Process Indicators subsection, is Domain 3: Educationally powerful connections and relationships. Excerpts follow from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success:

Different types of school–home connection vary in their effectiveness. Approaches that promote reciprocal, learning-centred relationships with teachers and the school positively influence student outcomes. Such approaches recognise, respect and value the diverse identities, languages and cultures of the school community, draw on its funds of knowledge, and make connections to students’ lives outside the school. Joint parent/whānau and teacher interventions that are designed to help parents or other community members support student learning at home and school while also engaging teachers in professional learning and development have the greatest impact of all. [50]

Providing parents and whānau with the tools to support learning at home can have a significant impact on student outcomes. These might include carefully designed, interactive homework, workshops such as those associated with the Reading Together® [51] programme, or mathematics activities and materials. [52]

Effective schools proactively identify and draw on community resources and expertise to increase learning opportunities and enhance student achievement and wellbeing.

The purpose of school–home involvement is to connect in-school and out-of-school learning in ways that will support valued outcomes for students. If effective connections are to be developed, teachers need to value the educational cultures of their students’ families and communities, and parents need to learn about and value the educational culture of the school. The principle of ako – reciprocal learning and teaching – is therefore fundamental to developing connections that work. [53]

Learning centred relationships: Reading Together® at Manurewa Central School

ERO has a collection of Improvement in Action Te Ahu Whakamua videos, one of which is titled 'Learning centred relationships: Reading Together® at Manurewa Central School', available here. Information from the ERO page:

This school has implemented the Reading Together® programme for many years. Leadership sees the value of the programme in building strong learning relationships with family and whānau and supporting emerging literacy.

An excerpt from the video - quoting Dr Laurie Thew, former Principal of Manurewa Central School:

I have to confess that when I first heard about Reading Together® I was sceptical. I thought, I don't know if we've got time for this. Well, I was totally wrong. It is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.

A further excerpt from the video - quoting Sandy Griffin, Reading Together® Workshop Leader and DP of Manurewa Central School:

Reading Together® is a hugely powerful programme. It's a doorway into building relationships with families and getting to know the children that you are working with ...
The things that we share in those workshops are easy. They are practical, sustainable practices that build strong families.

Responding to language diversity in Auckland - Reading Together® at Mt Roskill Intermediate School

The following excerpts regarding the Reading Together® programme at Mt Roskill Intermediate are sourced from pages 39-40 of the April 2018 Education Review Office publication 'Responding to language diversity in Auckland', available here:

This story is about how Mt Roskill Intermediate extended learning opportunities into the home by providing Reading Together® workshops for parents. Flexibility was the key to success for this programme.

Plan for learning
Staff noticed that children were reading English fairly fluidly but were not comprehending deeply so they decided to focus on comprehension.

The school introduced the Reading Together® programme to learners and parents. As well as learning strategies to support their child's reading at home, parents were encouraged to read with their children in English but discuss the story and concepts in their home language. This helped learners to develop a deeper understanding of the story being read. Teachers worked with parents and whānau over a period of time and noticed positive changes with the learners. Teachers continued to encourage the use of home languages, and connected parents and whānau with the Mt Roskill community library where the librarian helped families become members. The community library became a common meeting place for these learners and their parents.

I know that my close involvement with the schools (primary and intermediate) has enabled me to understand the support my child needs to succeed. (Parent)

I try to encourage other Pasifika parents, including my husband, to learn about these strategies [referring to Reading Together®] and spend time at school etc. (Parent)

Case Study - May Road School: Walking in other people's shoes

ERO Insights (Term 1, 2018) looks at Ethnic diversity in New Zealand state schools, and includes a Case Study - May Road School: Walking in other people's shoes, available here. Quoting from the Case Study:

This is our story of how we got to know our learners
Seventy‑five percent of our families are from the Pacific Islands. The Reading Together® programme triggered a conversation about the parents' experiences of education and aspirations for their children. It became clear that the usual data and information we collect provided some knowledge about the learner and their family. However, in order to truly tap into the potential of our learners we needed to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of the families, their experiences, their culture, their background, and what it is like to walk in their shoes! ...

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