Literacy Skills are the building blocks of education. They are integral to employment prospects and career advancement. They are also the key to the door of social engagement and participation in the wider world.
Thus, very important.
Once acquired they need to be maintained and broadened.
However, they are not easy to master and require good instruction, encouragement and practice.
This can be difficult enough for those with stable, nurturing home lives and access to quality education.
For those whose circumstances are more challenging and less predictable, the task can be daunting and confidence can easily be dented.
Literacy and numeracy programs are an integral part of the curriculum at EREA's Flexi Centres.
In this regard, Ipswich Flexible Learning Centre sees itself as "an oasis dedicated to the development of joy and safety within a learning framework and the fostering of programs designed to cater for young people’s struggles with literacy".
Ipswich currently has 125 young people, between 12 and 20 years of age. There is an equal ratio of teachers and youth/social workers on site.
Like all Flexis, its young people are often drawn from disadvantaged backgrounds where disengagement from mainstream education is common.
"Young people, especially our young people often are afraid of failure because they rarely have nurturing and supportive environments to take educational risks."
And the challenge is clear.
Demonstrating the practical benefits of literacy is one thing. Weaving the reading experience into the lives of young people - through selection of topics, establishing an identifiable personal context for plot and character - is another.
At Ipswich it is important that a high level of literacy instruction and practice takes place on site.
Much of this is achieved through literacy activities such as:
From a practical point of view, Ipswich FLC’s approach to literacy education is part of an integrated curriculum, and is consistent with the Australian Core Skills framework.
“We consciously develop the concept that improving young people’s literacy aids in their liberation by unlocking them from potentially lifelong disengagement and poverty. The intentional practice of a multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary approach support this liberation. Well-being has a clear connection between the improvement of learning outcomes."
We thank Jessie Fraser and David Harrison from Ipswich FLC for their assistance with this article.