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On Saturday the 27th of June, His Grace Bishop Siluan was pleased to welcome Dr. Jennifer Buckingham to St. Sava College, where she addressed a number of educators and board members on literacy, one of the primary areas of concern for our new school. Sadly, standards of literacy in Australian schools have dramatically declined in the last twenty years. If children do not grasp the basics in Kindergarten and Infant’s School, their chances of completing primary and secondary school to their potential are greatly hampered. St. Sava College is committed to providing the best possible instruction and where necessary, early intervention, making sure each and every child can read, write and spell when they leave infant’s school. This will be achieved through the introduction of a literacy program called InitiaLit, part of the MultiLit suite of programmes.

Dr Jennifer Buckingham is Director of Strategy and Senior Research Fellow at MultiLit Pty Ltd. She is also founder and director of the Five from Five project, which is a community education initiative to improve literacy. Jennifer has published widely in peer-reviewed journals, edited books and policy papers on subjects including literacy, teacher education, school funding, and school choice. She chaired a federal government advisory panel on a Year 1 literacy and numeracy assessment which led to the implementation of the Year 1 phonics check in South Australia and the Federal Government’s online phonics check to be released later this year. She has participated in numerous expert committees on education at federal and state level. Jennifer is a board member of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) and the Centre for Independent Studies. Jennifer was the recipient of Learning Disability Australia’s Mona Tobias Award in 2019 in recognition of her contribution to the field of learning difficulties.

InitiaLit is an evidence-based whole-class literacy program providing all children with essential core knowledge and strong foundations to become successful readers and writers. InitiaLit is a three-year program, covering the first three years of school (Kindergarten to Year 2). InitiaLit addresses initial instruction, providing strong foundations in reading and writing from the outset, ensuring fewer children will fall behind and require more intensive intervention.

It is a programme that incorporates a synthetic approach to the teaching of phonics alongside a rich literature and vocabulary component. St. Sava College is committed to consistent instruction across classrooms in a year level, and a reduction in the number of children needing support in higher grades. InitiaLit provides us with an evidence-based approach to reading and spelling that is aligned with the Australian National Curriculum.

Bishop Siluan expressed his deepest gratitude to Dr Buckingham for her inspiring presentation, and remarked that he shared the very evident enthusiasm and joy of the teachers and board members present. The building works continue, the fund raising programme awaits your support, and the future radiates with hope as we already tread, THE PATH TO LIFE!

To learn more about how the InitiaLit programme has turned things around for one school in Western Australia, please click here.