Structured Literacy

Clayton South Primary School (CSPS) is in Melbourne's South East bayside suburbs. We are a Science of Reading (SOR) and learning school and use structured literacy. We have elements of MSL multi-sensory learning, linking reading, writing, and spelling. 


We offer a program that promotes skill development in reading and viewing, writing, speaking, and listening in a supportive and stimulating environment. Planning is based on the Victorian Curriculum and is evidence-based, supported by best practices around literacy acquisition. We are working towards having a knowledge-rich curriculum and explicit direct instruction (EDI) across all year levels. At CSPS, our two-hour daily literacy blocks are non-interrupted learning time for children in Prep to Year 6. Strong literacy skills are crucial for future academic success, while reading for pleasure is also extremely important. We want children to love reading for enjoyment, improving social skills, mental health, and learning outcomes.



The English language is a melting pot of linguistic ingredients and has a complex code that has evolved over the decades. Many word origins are borrowed from Latin, Greek and even Japanese. Learning to read is not a natural process like learning to walk, and students need to acquire knowledge at school about the patterns and constraints that are unique to English. Our brains are not hard-wired to read, and reading is a skill is that is biologically secondary. The Science of Reading (SOR) refers to an enormous body of research and an emerging consensus that converges into how the brain learns to read and how educators should teach reading to ensure the best outcomes for all students. Structured literacy and explicit teaching are particularly beneficial for students with English as an Additional Language / Dialect (EAL/D).


Here at Clayton South Primary School, we are fortunate to have a team of allied health professionals on staff, including a speech-language pathologist (speech therapist) and occupational therapist (OT).


Science of Reading @ CSPS


Our early year's educators engage all students in Prep to Year 2 with daily Heggerty Phonological & Phonemic Awareness activities. We use the Little Learners Love Literacy Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) program. SSP instruction is very structured and teaches children the 44 letter sounds and how we blend sounds to read and spell. Decoding, 'set for variability' (the ability to identify a mispronounced word correctly), and phonological awareness are crucial skills for early reading and spelling success. Our students are taught to use their code knowledge to spell words using the same patterns they are learning in reading. We have invested in new sets of decodable readers for our beginning readers. Our children use decodable readers to practise the sound-spelling relationships and use the decoding skills taught in phonics lessons. Reading for enjoyment is important for children. We provide students with authentic texts for adults to read aloud until children can decode well enough to tackle the books themselves. Our students borrow 3-5 library choice books per week. Teachers share rich texts with their children daily. We challenge children to read for 15 minutes a day in class, and nightly reading is encouraged. Parent/carer involvement is welcomed in the classroom. 


There are six big components of reading, which need to be integrated throughout reading opportunities. 

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

Children at Clayton South Primary School will explore morphology (the study of words and their parts), syntax (sentence structure), and the fascinating world of etymology (the history and examination of the origin of words). Children learn a range of words with prefixes and suffixes throughout their time at primary school, usually starting in Year 2 and Year 3. Learning root words, prefixes and suffixes help children understand words better and unlock the structure and meaning within words. Students also begin to see links between different words and identify word families. 

eg. the word destructive

the prefix "de-" means, in this case, "removal" (eg "dehumidify" "defame" "detoxify").

the root "-struct" means "to build" or "to assemble". 


At Clayton South Primary School, we have focused fluency instruction in place in our classrooms. Fluency pairs is a short, sharp activity where we pair students to read a text multiple times a week. In our spelling lessons from Prep to Year 6, we follow the guidelines of Spelling Mastery. Spelling Mastery enables the teacher to identify the sound/s students are struggling with and cater to individual needs. For writing at Clayton South Primary School, we will be implementing The Writing Revolution (TWR), also known as The Hochman Method, an explicit set of evidence-based strategies for teaching writing.


Literacy support at Clayton South Primary School is our priority and a social equity issue. We have introduced the Response to Intervention (RTI) model, a multi-tiered approach to learning instruction. In Tier 2 or 3 intervention, we can differentiate instruction and target specific skills for struggling learners. Our team provides:

  • Tier 1 whole-class instruction using evidence-based instruction.
  • Tier 2 support in small group sessions for students identified as at risk to supplement skill-building.
  • Tier 3 individual intensive 1:1 targeted support for our struggling learners. 

We offer the same RTI model for literacy and numeracy.


Our internal data indicates that our change in practices implemented in mid-2020 is working for our students. At Clayton South Primary School, we have undertaken significant professional development to align our instruction with evidence-based research. 


Clayton South Primary School has proudly signed the Primary Reading PledgeFive from Five, AUSPELD, and Learning Difficulties Australia have collaborated on an evidence-based framework to dramatically reduce the number of children who finish primary school unable to read proficiently. We endorse and are working towards the goals outlined in the pledge. Our school is committed to using evidence-based reading instruction, assessment, and intervention. We use Dibels and LLLL assessment tools. Clayton South has a school policy on reading instruction, setting out the rationale and evidence for our instruction, assessment, and achievement approach. Our evidence-based template is provided by Professor Pamela Snow (La Trobe Uni), Dr Kate DeBruin (Monash Uni), and Dr Linda Graham (Qld University of Technology) - see link - Clayton South PS Reading Instruction Policy.



Students from Prep to Year 6 use digital technology and access best practice programs Literacy Planet, Teach Your Monster to Read, Reading Doctor, and Nessy.

Principal Mr Greg Clement explains his Science of Reading journey and his desire to drive change and share best practices. Greg describes his approach to change management and reading instruction as a marathon, not a sprint, in a candid and engaging personal blog (views his own).