2 Brisbane teachers will head to the UK to present literacy research
The Sector > Research > Brisbane teachers will present early years language research on the world stage

Brisbane teachers will present early years language research on the world stage

by Freya Lucas

March 30, 2023
A small boy is shown in the lap of an adult male, sharing a story.

Two Brisbane independent school teachers will head to the United Kingdom’s prestigious Oxford University next week to present their findings about the role of families in overcoming challenges in literacy development in the early years.


Deb Wilson and Ronnelle Sanders from St John’s Anglican College began their research in 2019 after securing a research grant through Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ), examining early oral language skills.


“A key finding from the research was that a lot of engagement between families and children is instructional, which meant they were not having deeper conversations which are crucial in developing early oral skills,” Mrs Wilson said.


“To combat this, we specifically asked questions like ‘what made you smile today?’, rather than ‘how was your day?’”


According to Mrs Sanders, the research also proved particularly useful during the COVID-19 pandemic, with specific question sets focusing on the child’s wellbeing.


Three years down the track, the work is paying dividends, with a marked improvement in oral and literacy skills for St John’s Anglican College students, as well as an overall improvement in parent engagement.


“If a student is thinking and speaking in full sentences, we see this transfer into their written communication skills,” she said.


Mrs Wilson and Mrs Sanders will present their findings on the world stage after being invited to the World Literacy Summit being held from April 2-4 in Oxford, England.


The World Literacy Summit is a bi-annual event that brings together leaders from 85 countries with a single focus on advocating, championing and educating on the vital importance of improving literacy levels across the globe.


St John’s Anglican College Principal Maria McIvor said she was proud that the work undertaken at the College could now be presented on a global scale.


“There are a lot of great concepts uncovered as part of this project that schools can easily implement, irrespective of where they are located in the world,” Ms McIvor said.

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