Viewing literacy teaching practices in Victoria: A critical lens on inclusion and best practice

Year: 2019

Author: Marland, Bec

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In 2016, the state government announced dyslexia screening for children in the first year of school, yet there is limited education research to indicate the teaching methods and pedagogies being used to support the estimated 10% of students with dyslexia. Descriptions of inclusive practice and quality teaching often fail to address dyslexia, the learning difficulty which impacts on fluent word reading and spelling. This presentation shares results from a Victoria University PhD study which explores a variety of teaching approaches to dyslexia in three government case study exemplar schools. The research comes from a social relational theoretical perspective, which recognises social model theory balanced with opportunities to support individuals through strengths-based practice. The research is based on the notion that schools are responsible for valuing diversity, inclusion and participation for all. A critical comparative analysis of policy and practice from England, considers ‘Bioecological Systems Theory’ (Bronfenbrenner & Ceci, 1994) and aims to elicit best-practice to innovate ways of addressing the intent behind Victoria's dyslexia education initiatives. In-depth interviews with teachers and principals from selectively sampled primary and secondary exemplar schools sheds light on dyslexia teaching practice in Victoria. Two findings from the data emerged; first, that Victorian Government School approaches to dyslexia detour sharply from one another and comprise of imaginative and innovative responses designed to consider theories on ‘best-practice’. Second, that teaching practice for dyslexia is infused with tensions and dilemmas relating to teacher pedagogies and a need for social justice and equity in schools. This research will present a sample of innovative responses from exemplar schools as a challenge to the status quo for literacy teaching. This research provokes new thinking around elitism in education in Victoria, by confronting traditional views on literacy teaching. This research is important to identify how schools are meeting their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) and the Disability Standards for Education(2005).