Structured Literacy

Clayton South Primary School is located in Melbourne's South East bayside suburbs. We are a Science of Reading (SOR) 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 practice around literacy acquisition. We use explicit direct instruction (EDI) and have two-hour daily literacy blocks that 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 improves social skills, mental health, and learning outcomes.


Learning to read is not a natural process like learning to walk. Our brains are not hard-wired to read. Reading is a complex skill and what is termed biological 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 where English is an Additional Language / Dialect (EAL/D).


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 that 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 they have been 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 meanings 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 together 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 have access to 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 practice. 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).