Effective education is a key focus of our work

Since MPF started in 2017 it’s become clear that effective education for children and young people is key to achieving our mission to support communities on the Mornington Peninsula to break the cycle of disadvantage.

The Science of Learning

Through our work, we know that just because children attend school it doesn’t mean they learn to read and write. Evidence shows how children learn matters.

The science of learning draws on the research of how people learn to inform the practice of teaching. This evidence based approach is being adopted by the schools MPF works with.

To support this transition to a teaching method informed by the science of learning, MPF has partnered with Knowledge Society, an organisation that designs and implements practice change programs in education, health and community services. Knowledge Society are providing professional development workshops for educators in the schools we work with on the Southern Peninsula.

Rosebud Secondary College’s Deputy principal Sam Rowe has participated in this professional development and says, “It’s transformational for teachers to understand the brain and how young people learn. Having that understanding takes us to the next level of improving teacher practice.” Principal Lisa Holt adds, “Learning about the science of learning makes us better teachers.”

The Science of Reading

A vital part of our educators’ work is ensuring that children are on track with learning to read and write.

We know that literacy rates in children starting secondary schools in some parts of the Peninsula are very low and until now teachers and school leaders have had few options with which to tackle this major issue.

The science of reading brings together a large body of international research and draws on multiple disciplines including cognitive science, psychology, neurology, linguistics and education.

A key point in the research is that while learning to speak is pre-programmed in humans due to many thousands of years of speaking, reading as a relatively recent skill will not be acquired unless it is taught in a systematic, sequential way.

While some children will learn to read regardless of the methodology employed, some, especially those with more challenging personal and environmental circumstances, need a more systematic approach to ensure the skill is acquired.

There are five key elements of the science of reading: phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. All need to be mastered for children to have the reading skills that enable them to read to learn, (rather than remain in a state of learning to read), to write fluently and use language as a powerful learning and communications tool.

Through the Science of Reading, educators are embracing new understandings and techniques and adjusting their teaching practice.

Taking steps to increase student engagement

Knowledge Society’s Dr Tim McDonald, a leading authority on the implementation of the Science of Learning to support student engagement, worked with some of our primary and secondary educators on the Southern Peninsula recently.

Educators leave the workshops with tools they can immediately implement to great effect. One primary school Principal gave Tim this feedback:

“Our staff got a lot out of the professional development day on Friday and we’ve seen good traction with our processes and structures in the first three days this year. Our students have responded really well to clarity of expectation for our beginning of day / entry / exit processes. We look forward to the opportunity to work through our next steps.” 

We look forward to continuing to develop this work with our community partners throughout the year.