Structured Literacy

Structured Literacy


At St Joseph’s Primary School we understand how vital literacy skills are to support all learning and use evidence-based methods to ensure all students succeed and thrive in this area.


We teach Literacy skills using an explicit and systematic approach. Through staff meetings and Professional Learning Teams, which meet twice a week, the teachers at St Joseph’s are led through the latest cognitive research and data for the most effective approaches to literacy instruction. We embed these practices into our daily literacy lessons to provide the best possible environment for all students to develop the ability to read, write and understand the rules that govern the English language. We are regularly exceeding expected growth across the school in all of these areas.


What the research is saying:


Reading is made of 5 key areas:

  1. Phonological Awareness
  2. Phonics
  3. Fluency
  4. Vocabulary
  5. Comprehension


Our structured reading and writing approach includes:

  • Phonological awareness and phonics skill screening in Prep and Year 1
  • Explicit teaching of phonological awareness and phonics
  • Automaticity training in the recognition of irregular words/high-frequency words
  • Guided practice to improve fluency
  • Vocabulary development, including structured morphology 
  • Explicit teaching of comprehension strategies



Fluency is defined as the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression. In order to understand what they read, children must be able to read fluently whether they are reading aloud or silently. When reading aloud, fluent readers read in phrases and add intonation appropriately. Their reading is smooth and has expression.



Spelling is explicitly taught for a minimum of 30 minutes per day four times a week from Prep to Year 6. Activities involve students spelling, blending and segmenting words as well as dictation exercises. Students are also taught sight words and different syllable types to assist with spelling more complex words. From Year Two to Six students follow the Spelling Mastery program which involves morphology (prefixes, suffixes) and the spelling rules that govern them. 




Our aim is to create an environment that allows students to use grammatical knowledge and understandings in order to make appropriate choices in getting their message across in both written texts and in speaking and listening. An explicit, whole-school approach to grammar has been adopted, so that our students gain essential knowledge and understandings of the functional use of grammar in standard Australian English.



Vocabulary is one of the five major components of reading and is linked to academic success. Vocabulary instruction provides essential background knowledge for reading and writing. If students are taught words before they read them in a text, they have a better chance of comprehending what has been read. Vocabulary must be taught explicitly with the intention of improving comprehension and writing. 



Reading and writing instruction are closely linked together in the classroom. Every day the classroom teachers at St Joseph’s explicitly teach writing skills and strategies to enable the students to become confident writers. 

The Victorian curriculum is used to determine the focus for writing instruction.                                                                      The Victorian Curriculum: English F-10 provides the following account of writing:

  • Writing involves students in the active process of conceiving, planning, composing, editing and publishing a range of texts
  • Writing involves using appropriate language for particular purposes or occasions, both formal and informal, to express and represent ideas and experiences, and to reflect on these aspects
  • Writing involves the development of knowledge about strategies for writing and the conventions of Standard Australian English. Students develop a metalanguage to discuss language conventions and use. (VCAA)


The following content and skills are explicitly taught from Prep to Year 6 at St Joseph’s Malvern:

  • Sentence structure including simple, compound and complex sentences
  • Subordinate and independent clauses
  • Sentence types (statement, command, question and exclamatory)
  • Conjunctions including subordinating conjunctions, appositives and sentence combining
  • Expanding sentences using adverbial, adjectival and prepositional phrases
  • Vocabulary building
  • Constructing paragraphs with a topic sentence
  • Constructing different genres, recount, narrative, persuasive, information and poetry
  • Planning, drafting, revising, editing and publishing a variety of texts.

Students at St Joseph’s are provided with numerous opportunities to share their writing with their peers to celebrate their achievements. 


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