Commercially Produced Literacy Packages: Why Do Schools Use Them?
Hughes, Rosalind Margaret
The genesis of this study was anecdotal reports that Dunedin primary schools were using commercially produced packages to teach literacy. In wanting to understand this phenomenon, the study sought to find if the purchase of such packages was widespread and investigated reasons for their usage. All 42 Dunedin primary school principals completed a questionnaire and eight principals, four in schools with packages and four leading schools without a package, participated in an interview. Findings showed that package usage is widespread with 62% of Dunedin primary schools using one or more packages. The predominant reason for using a commercially produced package was to teach phonics. Principals also used packages to ensure consistency in school-wide understandings and practices; to meet school literacy targets; as a partial solution to the intensification of teachers’ workloads; and to increase teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge in writing, spelling and comprehension. There were clear differences in the beliefs and practices between principals of schools using packages and those in schools not using them concerning the teaching of phonics, the professional development of their teachers and responses to intensification and accountability demands. Impacting on principals’ decisions to purchase and use a teaching package was the long-lived, public debate on the place of phonics in the teaching of reading, and also, the neo-liberal school reform policies that increased principal autonomy and responsibility while simultaneously tightening school accountability requirements.
Advisor: Burnett, Greg; Gasson, Ruth
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: University of Otago College of Education
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: primary school; commercially produced literacy packages; literacy; teaching; phonics; neo-liberal school reforms; teacher intensification
Research Type: Thesis