Students achieve more when teachers have time to do what they know works best
Literacy skills acquired during the first years of schooling have been recognised as the key to students' learning success. However, despite the continuing efforts by the New Zealand government and teachers there is still a large proportion of students who struggle to become literate. To address this issue the Ministry of Education funded selected New Zealand schools to take part in 10-week programmes designed to provide an intensive intervention in literacy (i.e. reading and writing) and numeracy. This article summarises the results from the part of the programme which focused on reading. The findings indicate that Year 1 and Year 2 students significantly increased their reading ability over the 10 weeks. The survey data, interviews and teachers' journals revealed that the critical aspect of this success was teachers having time to meet individual students' specific learning needs. At the school level the programme was lauded as successful. Importantly, these findings have implications not only for how principals allocate teacher time but also for policy-makers when considering how to support schools in addressing the needs of those students who have not made the expected progress in their literacy development in their first years of education.