Over the last two weeks, staff in the English and SOSE departments have been working with an external consultant on developing reading across the school. The teachers who have been selected are representative of most year levels. Our consultant is Mr Lindsay Williams who has extensive experience in developing and promoting the skill of reading. Lindsay has worked extensively throughout the state and comes to St Patrick’s highly recommended.

I have had the opportunity to sit in with Lindsay and other staff as we observed model lessons from the likes of Mr Denkes, Mr Niland Rowe, Mr Clough, Ms Belfrage and Ms Bone. It was a fascinating experience. Watching teachers use such a diverse range of techniques to ensure students understood the approaches the writers had employed. There is still much work to be done, but I was impressed by the preparation of the teachers and the participation of the students.

Lindsay will return in two weeks. At this time he will spend a period with each teacher providing feedback on the structure of the lesson. After this, he will commence a second round of observations with teachers from Religion and Ethics and the PE department. This work is part of our whole school improvement plan, which identified reading as a key area which needed improvement.

Last year I wrote about reading at home. When you consider that the centre point of almost everything we do, involves being able to read effectively then we get a sense of how important it is to be strong in this area. At school, students who struggle to decipher the many resources and activities they are given are at an immediate disadvantage. This is one area where parents can work with their sons towards improvement. Are we readers in the home? Do we set aside quiet time as a family when we sit with a novel for 20-30 minutes and just read? If we do this, is there a time when families can discuss what they have read?

For most of us, simply by setting aside a time for regular reading we can improve our capacity. Our concentration gets better, our vocabulary broadens and our understanding of language and how it can be used matures.

I am often asked by parents how they can help their sons with their schoolwork. Reading is a simple and effective way to do this. We will continue to work on the skill here at school. I invite parents and families to follow up at home.

Mr Christopher Campbell - Dean of Teaching and Learning