Literacy and Numeracy

Through the Smarter Schools National Partnership for Literacy and Numeracy the Australian Government allocated up to $540 million over four years to facilitate and reward the implementation of evidence based strategies that improve student literacy and numeracy skills.

Funding contributions made by the Australian Government to states and territories under the Smarter Schools National Partnership for Literacy and Numeracy between 2008-09 and 2011-12 are as follows:

Funding contributions made by the Australian Government to states and territories.
NSW VIC QLD SA WA TAS NT ACT
$136.0 million $89.4 million $138.6 million $40.4 million $61.7 million $12.9 million $14.9 million $6.1 million

Why focus on literacy and numeracy?

Literacy and numeracy are the essential foundation skills that allow young people to achieve at school, go on to further learning, and participate fully in society and work.

International and national test results show that there are some Australian students, including a high proportion of Indigenous students, who perform below basic literacy and numeracy standards.

What was the focus of this National Partnership?

The Smarter Schools National Partnership for Literacy and Numeracy focuses on three key areas:

  • quality teaching of literacy and numeracy
  • stronger school leadership, and
  • the effective use of student performance information to identify where students need support.

During the implementation of this partnership a special focus was placed on students who would benefit most from these programs, specifically primary aged and Indigenous students.

As a result, this National Partnership also contributed to the Council of Australian Governments’ target of halving the gap for Indigenous students in reading, writing and numeracy within a decade.

What was achieved under this National Partnership?

  • The 2011 COAG Reform Council (CRC) report stated that the LNNP is reducing Australia’s long tail of underachieving students within participating schools, with Indigenous students making the biggest gains in reading and numeracy.
  • NAPLAN data indicates that students in schools participating in the Literacy and Numeracy National Partnership have shown an improvement in scores greater than the national trend and that the investment is having a real and positive impact.
  • Analysis of 2008 to 2011 NAPLAN data shows that:
    • 80 per cent of participating schools improved in the proportion of students achieving above the national minimum standard in year 5 numeracy
    • 69 per cent of participating schools have increased the proportion of students above the national minimum standard in year 3 reading
    • 40 per cent of participating schools increased the proportion of students above the national minimum standard in year 3 numeracy
    • 59 per cent of participating schools have increased the proportion of students above the national minimum standard in year 5 reading.
  • Significant achievement has been made against the other key objectives of the LNNP:
    • increased collaboration between schools in achieving literacy and numeracy reform;
    • improved classroom practice in literacy and numeracy; and
    • a positive impact on school leadership and student engagement.
  • State/territory school case studies demonstrate that the LNNP made a difference in schools.

How did funding work for this partnership?

Over the first two years of this National Partnership, $150 million will be distributed based on each state and territory's share of students at or below minimum standards in reading and numeracy for Years 3, 5 and 7. Over the last two years of the National Partnership, up to $350 million was available to reward reform. States and territories received reward payments as they met the targets for improving literacy and numeracy that they outlined in their Implementation Plans. $40 million has also been provided for strategic initiatives.

National Literacy and Numeracy Partnerships Forum

The National Literacy and Numeracy Partnerships Forum was held in Brisbane on 10 – 11 November 2011.  The Forum was an opportunity for teachers, principals and others to share their experiences of how the Smarter Schools National Partnership for Literacy and Numeracy has allowed them to improve literacy and numeracy outcomes for their students. More than 350 participants enjoyed Literacy and Numeracy presentations delivered by educators from around Australia.

Around seventy presentations were delivered at the Forum by teachers, principals and education experts. Compilation vodcasts of the speeches are below.

There were seven key note speeches at the forum.  You can read transcripts of these below or email us to obtain a DVD copy of the keynotes.

Pilot programs

Separately, the Australian Government also invested $41 million in 30 literacy and numeracy pilot initiatives. These pilots took place in selected schools to trial and expand on current initiatives to lift the literacy and numeracy performance of students in disadvantaged communities.

The published final evaluation report can be found here

Learn more about what the experts have to say about teaching literacy and numeracy and view a series of vodcasts developed by some of the participating schools.

Further information

You can find out more about this National Partnership by downloading the Literacy and Numeracy Partnership Agreement and fact sheet below.

Otherwise, the Smarter Schools Frequently Asked Questions can provide you with general information on all three national partnerships.

Next steps?

The Australian Government is providing additional funding for a new National Partnership for Improving Literacy and Numeracy (ILNNP) to build on the successful strategies of the Literacy Numeracy National Partnership in 2013.

More information on this National Partnership is available.