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Our Focus on the Fundamentals: Literacy and Numeracy

Our focus on teaching early literacy and numeracy is firmly established at ACG Tauranga, with students at all year levels following the globally renowned Cambridge International curriculum.

Earlier this year, The Education Hub released a report titled, 'Now I don't know my ABC – the perilous state of literacy in Aotearoa New Zealand'. Their research raised concerns about literacy levels among New Zealand school children and suggested that nearly one in five 15-year-olds are not meeting the lowest reading benchmark.

At ACG Tauranga, we believe the importance of teaching literacy and numeracy cannot be overstated. As a result, we strive to ensure all our students perform to the highest standard in these crucial areas.

As early literacy and numeracy are the building blocks all future learning rests upon, our Primary students are introduced to mathematics and English lessons from their very first day with us. Establishing these skills from each student's earliest years is vital because, without this solid educational foundation, they will be unable to achieve in the high-stakes exams they face during secondary school.

Our youngest primary learners enjoy a broad academic programme with a strong emphasis on reading, writing and mathematics. This structured approach to teaching enables our students to build a strong foundation of essential numeracy and literacy skills, which they continue to develop as they advance through school. Meanwhile, our specialist teachers regularly review and assess every student's progress to ensure they are fully equipped with the disciplinary knowledge and learning competencies they need to flourish.

ACG Tauranga Primary teacher and early literacy expert Denise Wheatley says that focusing on literacy and numeracy from an early age sets students up to thrive in all areas of learning. Accordingly, students in Years 1 to 3 receive fourteen English and eight mathematics lessons each week to ensure they gain a solid foundation to build on throughout their educational journey – with all learning underpinned by the Cambridge curriculum.

“In literacy, the Cambridge Primary curriculum provides an integrated approach to teaching reading, writing and spoken communication through activities that promote experience, reflection and improvement,” Denise explains. “A range of fiction genres, poetry, play scripts and non-fiction texts are taught to provide authentic contexts for skills development.”

“Meanwhile, maths is divided into three main areas: number, geometry and measure. These areas work together to help students recognise connections of mathematical concepts as they engage in creative mathematical thinking to generate and improve numerical fluency. As a result, learners develop a holistic understanding, focussing on principles, patterns, systems, functions and relationships. ‘Thinking and working mathematically’ encourages them to talk with others, challenge ideas and provides evidence that validates conjectures and solutions. It also supports higher-order thinking that helps students view the world in a mathematical way.”

The teaching of reading, writing and maths within the Cambridge Primary curriculum is designed to enrich students’ schooling experience, helping them develop transferable, lifelong skills like critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity (along with the values of excellence, courage, integrity and respect). 

But how do ACG Tauranga teachers ensure all students receive these vital building blocks?

“Teachers actively engage in learning activities with students, and lessons are effectively delivered with a beginning, main body and end,” confirms Denise. “Teachers clearly articulate the learning objectives and success criteria and use a range of relevant and interesting activities and resources that challenge and excite learning. Students actively participate in their learning through independent, pair and teamwork and problem-solving activities.”

And should a student find literacy or numeracy challenging, any issues are quickly identified by our expert team of educators, who are on hand with tools and support. Dani Archer, Primary Dean and Faculty Coordinator, tells us more.

“From Year 5 upwards, our Accelerated Learning Programme is available for those students needing additional support, and assessment support is offered for students with identified learning needs. Plus, Primary students have access to lunchtime workshops in maths and literacy, where they are supported by some of our senior students,” says Dani.

For those new to the school, the transition into the Cambridge curriculum and structured learning is eased with plenty of teacher – and student – assistance.

“The kindness and care our students show new students by reassuring them that it’s normal to find things a bit challenging at first and that it will soon get easier is really special and a culture we are incredibly proud of.”

In addition, teachers regularly communicate with families regarding their child’s learning, and SeeSaw provides an online platform for students to share their work with their parents. Furthermore, benchmarking and evaluations are in place that empower children to meet (or exceed) the required level of achievement.

“Lower Primary school teachers assess against the Cambridge Learning Objectives, and from Year 4, we use the Cambridge Progression Tests. These tests provide us with a range of data as they assess against all the learning objectives in that specific year level. We receive a detailed report outlining where the child is sitting, both for each learning objective and overall. And we can then compare these against the cohort and all Cambridge schools. In Years 5 and 6, parents also receive a copy of this information to clearly identify how their child is performing.”

This robust framework of checkpoints – combined with outstanding teachers, excellent support networks, and an expertly-structured curriculum – ensures ACG Tauranga students are ideally placed for optimal engagement, maximum enjoyment and ultimately, peak educational success.