Updated: Dec 4, 2019
The idea to work in a wide variety of ways aiming to make a really strong impact on literacy across the Macedon Ranges and beyond was born during a Make a Change Australia workshop series aiming to support the beginnings of grassroots community change makers.
I dreamt up all manner of ways that we could work and slowly over time these ideas are coming into being! There are so many other initiatives on the list…
I have been joined by a great volunteer committee and received initial support from The Lions Club of Woodend and the Rotary Club of Woodend; The Central Ranges Local Learning and Employment Network; Cobaw Community Health, the schools and community houses.
We first began teaching four teenage boys at Kyneton Secondary College with some funding support from Cobaw Community Health. From here the school asked me to look at ways of expanding this work as they had so many students arriving at secondary school unable to read and spell well enough to manage the curriculum.
The first three volunteer reading coaches were trained soon after and began working with six students. A year later we were able to train another nine coaches and now have more than twenty active at Kyneton Secondary College with great results.
From here we began work with Kyneton Primary School, again with an initial three volunteers sourced from the school community – there are now ten coaches working with around eighteen students.
Our next venues to get up and running were Woodend Neighbourhood House and Kyneton Community House where we currently have six coaches at work with adults.
The work is based on that of The Shannon Trust and ReadEasyUK. Both organisations have worked with thousands of adult learners across the UK using the Turning Pages program.
I came across the Turning Pages program and the great work of The Shannon Trust and ReadEasyUK via twitter and we became the first people in Australia to use this highly effective program which is written specifically for older learners and closely aligns with the scientific evidence in reading teaching.
We have also looked closely at many other organisations helping with literacy difficulties and found great ideas and the knowledge that it really is possible to make a big impact on literacy from small beginnings.