Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi:St Joseph's School Otahuhu


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The initial implementation of RT at St Joseph's School, Otahuhu is the focus of a case study prepared for the Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis Programme and the Pasifika Schooling Improvement Divisions of the MOE. The report focuses on the principal's implementation leadership. The results of  a matched comparison evaluation demonstrated statistically significant gains in children's reading comprehension from new entrant to Year 8 students that were over and above those achieved by the in-school literacy programme, and were evident not only for the focus child but also across siblings in the  families who participated. Reading gains were sustained over time.  Read the full report Tuck, B., Horgan, E., Franich, C., & Wards, M. (2007).  School leadership in a school-home partnership: Reading Together® at St Joseph's School Otahuhu . Wellington: Ministry of Education.

More than a decade later, St Joseph's school leadership demonstrates extraordinary expertise and sustainability in high impact implementation.

The following videos highlight critical success factors from the perspective of school leaders and families:

Reading Together®: Making an informed decision

Leaders taking time to find out about the RT Programme and the evidence behind it and getting the buy-in of all staff have been crucial to success. The RT programme is described as 'deceptively simple with sophisticated ideas underpinning it'.

"..The fact that the programme was research based held a great deal of importance for us.  We weren't about to initiate something that we just thought 'might' make a difference."


Planning for the first meeting: Getting the right people there and breaking down the barriers

St Joseph's leadership explain their strategic approach to inviting parents to participate. They made personal approaches for their first series of RT workshops to families they felt would contribute and become future ambassadors for the programme.

They explain their framing the RT workshops as being relevant for everyone and avoiding any sense that they are remedial.

Attention was given to ensuring the workshops come across as a personal chat and sharing time, with everyone being on a first name basis. The workshops were held in the staffroom with the facilitators sitting with the participants and refreshments provided.

Building Trust: Facilitator expertise

St Joseph's school leaders identify the significance of the expert staff facilitators of the RT Workshops being able to communicate how each participant is valued.

The facilitators make it safe for candid sharing. Find out more about the evidence for why this matters. The supportive interactions and the workshop process build positive relationships and support amongst the participants.

"..Reading Together® is providing parents with some simple strategies to help their children with reading at home, and when reading lifts, everything lifts: their social interactions, their academic performance at school, their love of books..."



This video, filmed at St Joseph's School, Otahuhu, demonstrates how a relationship can be built between the school and parents and caregivers. The trust established becomes the foundation for a reciprocal and enduring relationship between families and school.

For many parents and caregivers, just attending is too hard because of childcare challenges. At St Joseph's the principal's office becomes the play room for all the children while their parents attend the RT workshops.

"...We're all here to do the same thing, not just the parents but the teachers as well. They want what's best for our children, they want to help us give the best to our children."


From 'Programme' to 'How we do things around here'

Workshop facilitators at St Joseph's School, Otahuhu, describe the range of strategies this school uses to reach and include all of their parents and caregivers.

The expectation that parents will attend the RT workshops is built into enrolment discussions.  Parents hear about the value of the workshops through word of mouth from other parents.

"...Even in the shopping centre, just talking to parents, 'How's that reading thing going? Ah good. Are you still managing it four times a week, 10, 15 minutes max per night?  Are you doing it with all your children, not just one or two?'"


Parents explain the change

Parents describe many ways in which they have changed their approach to reading with their children. Reading has become a happy time for families. The relationships with school has become a real partnership.

"...The fact that we could meet with those senior leaders and have that open door policy; that you could come and speak to them about anything and everything. It really strips away all those barriers so that you can form that partnership between home and school"


Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi:

Here are quick links to the other BES exemplars demonstrating critical success factors for effective implementation of Reading Together® in a school serving predominantly Pacific communities and a school serving a multi-cultural community.

BES Implementation Exemplars
Fairhaven School-Iwi Partnership
Manurewa Central School