ECU wins Engagement Australia Excellence Award for early years literacy efforts
The Sector > Research > Understanding Children > ECU wins Engagement Australia Excellence Award for early years literacy efforts

ECU wins Engagement Australia Excellence Award for early years literacy efforts

by Freya Lucas

January 07, 2022

Edith Cowan University’s (ECU) School of Education was awarded the Outstanding Engagement for Research impact in the Engagement Australia Excellence Awards 2021, for its longitudinal evaluation of a research project which has inspired Western Australian families to read with their children for nearly two decades.


The prestigious national research award recognises the work done in the Better Beginnings Family Literacy program, which was established in 2005 as a partnership between ECU, the State Library of WA (SLWA) and families around the State.


Evaluation outcomes have led to the development of a suite of four Better Beginnings programs for different age groups and communities.


The Better Beginnings reading packs and Baby Rhyme Time, Toddler Time and Story Time delivered by libraries around the State are well-known to parents and children around WA.


Since the start of the program more than 940,000 reading packs have been delivered to WA parents and carers aiming to support them as their child’s first educator and connect families to their local library, schools and health services.


In 2020 Kindytxt – a literacy-based text-messaging program was developed to extend the Better Beginnings Kindergarten program. Kindytxt delivers bite-sized chunks of literacy activities via SMS to parents with young children, three times a week.


“Given the calibre of other finalists in the award it is humbling to be recognised for our work on ways of supporting family literacy practices across diverse WA communities,” project lead Professor Caroline Barratt-Pugh said.


“Our research partnership with SLWA, local librarians, teachers, community child health nurses, parents and children has provided a strong evidence base to inform ongoing and new literacy initiatives that build on family knowledge, understanding and practice.”


The next stage of the work undertaken by Professor Barratt-Pugh and her team will be to analyse the findings from the Kindytxt data and extend it beyond the 800 families currently taking part, potentially rolling the program out nationally in 2022.


Others in the research team include Associate Professor Lennie Barblett, Associate Professor Nicola Johnson, Dr Susan Hill and Alia Parker from ECU’s School of Education.


For more information visit the project page.

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