Ensuring Equity in Opportunity to Learn

The following are elements that contribute to equality in the opportunity to learn. In an equitable system, all students would have access to:

  • Engaged time;
  • Quality teaching, resources and environments;
  • Safe environments which students are free from harm and discrimination and that their basic needs are met;
  • The material, cultural and economic means to achieve;
  • Opportunities to practice and to extend practices;
  • High expectations that are shared between the school and the home contexts;
  • Suitable collaboration between the home and school contexts as well as with the broader community context;
  • Schools and communities which are sensitive to the linguistic and cultural diversity of the student population, particularly when a minority of learners come to classrooms with a home language that is not used as the language of instruction;
  • Instruction which is suitable to the learners’ stages of development, and learners have been given strategic skills that help them engage in the current and subsequent stages of learning;
  • Learning environment which facilitate high challenge/high support instruction so that diverse students can make suitable and competitive progress;
  • Special accommodations that have been made to meet the specific learning needs of all students;
  • Content which is engaging, relevant, purposeful and that will build on prior knowledge and that will be consistent with current ways of knowing and be applicable to everyday problem-solving.
  • An education that responds to individual affinities/talents so learners are able to capitalise on these interests and learning trajectories;
  • Effective support in managing transitions between schooling/learning contexts;.
  • Every opportunity to achieve, so that children's resilience is being developed and their motivation is fostered;
  • Institutions and society that seek to minimise and mitigate the impacts of social and economic disadvantage; and
  • People and institutions who keep “a finger on the pulse” of all students at all times. Progress is monitored, opportunities are made available, and extra support is facilitated, where required.

Supporting the child's literacy development and exploration

I am profoundly struck by a persistent image in my mind that - for me - both clarifies and reflects the challenges of learning to read and write. It is an image of a child moving from skill to skill, actively and with resilience. At times, there are spurts of growth. At other times, it can be hard going. It is an image in which the accumulation of carefully scaffolded experiences turns the child into a reader and a writer. It is an image in which there is significant care taken so that the learner is apprenticed into new practices and the learner is able to reach closure on old skills so as to build new ones. It is an image in which the child encounters new words and propositions, and the child can actively manipulate, refine and process the knowledge encoded in our words.

It is a precarious image. At any stage, the learning can become befuddling and the learner will be unable to progress. It is a progressive image. It is one in which the learner gains a control of the fundamentals, is initiated into different practices with language, and learns to use such learning actively and independently. It is important that the learner engages in the literacy, gradually comes to see the point, and works deliberately and meaningfully with suitable time spent thinking about the content, contexts and form of messages. The learner is encouraged to visualise, notice patterns and think critically.

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