15 Apr 2015

One-size-fits-all approach 'no longer suitable'

9:43 am on 15 April 2015

Māori children will benefit from groundbreaking research into alternatives to the 'one-size-fits-all' approach used to teach literacy skills, an education specialist says.

James Chapman

Professor James Chapman Photo: SUPPLIED

Twenty-five kura in the North Island are taking part in the research, which is designed to find different ways to teach tamariki depending on their individual needs.

The $1.25 million project, run by a team at Massey University, will take three years to complete.

James Chapman, from the university's institute of education, said ensuring children could read and learn boiled down to an issue of social equity.

Professor Chapman said introducing a range of assessments that strongly predict and identify literacy learning needs - right from day one - would provide a valuable foundation.

"We expect and believe that Māori and Pasifika children will be the biggest beneficiaries of this differentiated approach, which takes into account their learning needs more carefully and closely than presently is the case in many, but certainly not all classrooms.

"We know that many, many teachers are frustrated that they know that they are not doing as well as they could or should do, and they're wanting to find different ways to enhance their teaching, to broaden the range of their teaching approaches for all learners."

Professor Chapman said the research team, supported by the Ministry of Education, was confident the research would be of enormous benefit to tāngata whenua.

"We're pushing hard the idea that a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching literacy is no longer suitable for children, but a differentiated one that's geared much more closely to the specific needs of learners when they come into school as new entrants and their first year of schooling.

"Broadening the range of approaches that teachers have will ensure children can read, and therefore learn."

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