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Literacy and numeracy programs in schools

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Literacy and numeracy skills are essential parts of the school curriculum. This page highlights some of the programs available in schools.

Literacy at school

During their school years, students:

  • continue to learn and refine their communication skills
  • create and make sense of a range of written, visual and spoken texts.

To succeed in all learning areas, students need literacy skills and knowledge to:

  • understand, analyse, interpret and evaluate information
  • develop and express ideas and opinions
  • interact with others and participate in activities at school.

To become effective learners, students need to be confident and motivated to use their literacy skills broadly. This can be observed when they:

  • manage their own learning to be self-sufficient
  • work harmoniously with others
  • are open to ideas, opinions and texts from and about diverse cultures
  • return to tasks to improve and enhance their work
  • are prepared to question the meanings and assumptions in texts.

The Australian Curriculum literacy general capability describes the focus areas for students’ literacy development and developmental sequences.

Numeracy at school

At school, students have opportunities to further develop logical thinking and reasoning so they can engage in all kinds of mathematical problem-solving.

To succeed in all learning areas, students need numeracy skills and knowledge to:

  • estimate
  • recognise a reasonable answer
  • use mathematics to solve a variety of problems.

Students become numerate as they develop the knowledge and skills to use mathematics confidently and purposefully across all learning areas at school and in their lives more broadly. In recognising and understanding the role of mathematics in the world, students learn the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions required for more complex mathematical thinking, reasoning and problem solving in a wide range of situations.

The Australian Curriculum numeracy general capability describes the focus areas for students’ numeracy development and developmental sequences.

Assessment programs

Phonics screening check

In term 3 each year, all year 1 students in South Australian government schools undertake the phonics screening check.

The phonics screening check supports teachers to identify students who need additional help with their phonics skills. It helps inform teachers’ judgement on the approaches to take to support individual students.


The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests the literacy and numeracy skills students are learning through the school curriculum.

NAPLAN is an annual assessment for students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9. The assessments are undertaken nationwide, every year. From 2023, NAPLAN will be held in March.

Students participate in 4 tests:

  • reading
  • writing
  • language conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation)
  • numeracy.

Progressive Achievement Tests in Reading Comprehension (PAT-R) and Mathematics (PAT-M)

Students in years 3 to 10 undertake the online Progressive Achievement Tests in Reading Comprehension (PAT-R) and Mathematics (PAT-M) in weeks 7 to 10, term 3 each year.

The PAT results support teachers in monitoring the progress of students’ development in reading comprehension and maths.

South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE)

Literacy and numeracy continue to be important for students in the senior secondary years. It is essential so they can successfully complete school and move into further education, training and work.

Year 10 to 12 students study towards the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE)

The SACE Board has recognition arrangements for students who successfully undertake International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) courses.

Targeted student support

English as an additional language or dialect (EALD) program

The English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EALD) program supports students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who are learning English as an additional language or dialect. It also covers the Intensive English Language program (IELP) and the New Arrivals program (NAP).

Disability support at school

Students with special needs and learning difficulties may require learning programs to support their literacy and numeracy development.

Literacy Guarantee Unit

The Literacy Guarantee Unit implements a comprehensive program to improve literacy levels for students. Literacy coaches with expertise in phonics and teaching students with dyslexia and other learning difficulties provide intensive coaching to classroom teachers, advice and support in the teaching of reading in identified primary schools. The unit provides 3 statewide conferences for teachers each year.

Literacy and Numeracy Team

Phone: 8463 5990

Email: Education.NumeracyandLiteracy@sa.gov.au

Literacy Guarantee Unit

Phone: 8463 5691

Email: Education.LiteracyGuarantee@sa.gov.au