Different is good. Very, very good

Thursday 07 Sept 2023
Year 7 boys sitting on bench

Sometimes it is the very simple things that remind us that what happens here at Ipswich Grammar School is remarkable. In the past couple of weeks there has been a lot of discussion about NAPLAN in the media and how a third of students are behind in literacy and numeracy. At the same time, I just happened to have interviewed a prospective student, currently in Year 4 in an inner-city Brisbane School. As we were talking, I invited the family into our classrooms to see how we operate - although I prefaced it by saying, “It is different”. We went into Year 3, Year 4 and Year 5 classrooms and they were mesmerised by what they saw. Their eyes lit up, across each of the classrooms, and they kept asking, “Why do no other schools do this?”, “We have not seen anything like this!”, and “How incredible! The families get feedback every week and the teacher corrects every word the boys write”. They were observing Explicit Teaching in practise!

Our innovative Explicit Teaching Model forms the basis of our academic approach and provides the best possible way for our boys to master the core skills of literacy and numeracy.

At times, it can be easy to accept this as the norm, until we remind ourselves of what is happening in other classrooms around the country. Most schools are setting aspirational targets to have their Preps reading at a PM level 7 by the end of the year - our Preps are already averaging a level 10 and we’re not even at the end of Term 3!

Many schools use words like “explicit” or phrases like “we teach literacy explicitly” when describing their approach to teaching and learning. I often question what they actually mean by that. Our Explicit Teaching model has continued to be developed and refined and we continue to focus on teaching the skills of literacy and numeracy. Our teachers are experts in Explicit Teaching and that is evident from the moment you step into a daily lesson.

We continue to buck the trend and the narrative around NAPLAN results going backwards, that boys can’t write or that boys perform worse than girls in literacy. We do not hold these statements as our norms. What we say instead is that we do not put limits on our boys, our boys do write (and very well) and our boys are very good at literacy and numeracy.

We are different and our boys demonstrate that.

Tony Dosen
Deputy Headmaster