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Every child, regardless of their ethnicity or family circumstances, can achieve success in reading and writing at a very young age if they are taught in the appropriate way.

Speaking at Plimmerton Rotary on 10th May, Joy Allcock described her “Shine” Literacy Project which has achieved remarkable results among 5 and 6 year olds in 17 Porirua primary schools including Postgate and Paremata. The central idea behind the programme was to encourage children to think about words which all contained the same sound. For example, the teacher might ask the children how many words they could think of which contained the “sh” sound. While some children were reluctant at first to engage in the discussion, experience showed that they all soon gained enough confidence to become involved.

The next step in the process was for the teacher to talk about different ways in which a particular sound could be spelt depending on the word that contained the sound. Again, a lively interactive session would ensue.

To help in the process, Ms Allcock had developed several resources including work books, reading books, and a special “magic pen”, so named because it had the amazing capacity to read words for the children.

Ms Allcock was passionate about disrupting the “long tail” of under-achievement in literacy. “Children from wealthy families are four times more likely to achieve at a high level than other children. At the same time, we have far too many under-achieving children in this country. We just have to do something about this chronic under-achievement which is among the worst in the western world.”

Accompanying Ms Allcock at the meeting were two local primary school teachers who spoke of their experience with the Shine programme. Rachel Woodley of Postgate School explained that 41% of their 5 and 6 year olds identified as Maori, and 38% as Pasifika. “In 2012 our school was not in a good state, with two thirds of our 6 year olds under-achieving. But our latest ERO (Education Review Office) report shows that after 3 years of exposure to the Shine programme our Maori students are achieving at the expected level, while our Pasifika children are achieving at above the expected level. ERO described us as a ‘high performing school’. We have our Principal Adam Campbell to thank for this, for having the courage to go with the programme.”

Sarah Pupuke of Paremata School explained that their 5 and 6 year old chidren regarded the Shine programme as a fun activity which made it more effective. “We call the programme ‘It sounds like fun’, and that’s exactly what it is. In just 20 minutes a day we can make a huge difference to these children. They get hooked into the process. They begin to understand the connection between different words through the sounds within the words. After these sessions the children will often tell us about other words they’ve thought of which contain the sound. And sometimes children will arrive at school the next day with a whole list of words containing the sound.”

Looking to the future, Ms Allcock explained that she had four main goals: to engage a full time or part time district co-ordinator, to create more resources to reach more children, to encourage more professional learning development for teachers, and to share data from the project across the Porirua region. “At the moment the teachers who take part do so in their own time after school or in the evenings. We have approached the Ministry of Education about funding for the Shine programme but have yet to receive any kind of reply from them.”

Induction of Dr Leigh Corner
Leigh was inducted and welcomed as a new member of the club. He was accompanied by his wife Laurie, and introduced by his friend, Ian Turner, who has worked with him on his lifestyle block. Leigh and Laurie are Australian and have a property in Murphy’s Road in Pauatahanui. Leigh is a vet who graduated from Melbourne University and began a career in research, specialising in the epidemiology of TB. He has worked in Ireland, where TB is transmitted to cattle via badgers. He is a Senior Research Associate at The University College, Dublin and still consults to the Department of Agriculture in Ireland. Leigh will give his personal talk to the club in June.

In addition to partners, we had many visitors from Inner Wheel. We also welcomed Rachel Scott, from Partners Porirua who has taken over from Jane Hocking as our new liaison person for the Aotea College interviewing skills programme.

This is her life, Volume 1
Connie Palmer is a recent arrival in our club and gave us a stirring personal talk, beginning with a moving poem about her mother (which we hope to reproduce here).
Connie has had a varied career, beginning as a kindergarten teacher and later working for the Ministry of Energy. She then went back to university and graduated in Comparative Religion and English Literature. After this, she became a teacher and took up writing, and at present is at Aotea College, responsible for international students and English as a second Language. Connie told us that she joined Rotary because she admires our commitment to environmental issues, and the sense of community in the club.


Increasing self-esteem and confidence among IHC youth
Julie McLagan has written a lovely blog about the Rotary Best Speakers Award local heat and national final that will be taking place on Friday and Saturday, 27 and 28 May. Interest is high and there is still time for late entries up to Friday of this week so spread the word if you know of anyone who might like to enter. And as for the event itself, do talk to your family, friends and colleagues to see if they'd be interested in coming to hear these young people speak. This has been promoted on  our Facebook page and on Neighbourly.

The Polio virus. Is it still a danger?
The work goes on and we hope we're making a difference with our contributions to The Rotary Foundation. Here's a blog to bring everyone up to date with the situation as at 1 May 2016. The video at the bottom of the page is well worth watching too.

Gillies McIndoe Gala Dinner
We've received an invitation to Save the Date for the Gala Dinner to support the work of the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute at The Boatshed on Wellington Waterfront on Thursday 21 July 2016. A full invitation will follow, but in the meantime, here's what we've received so far. In case you can't read this, it says that the soprono, Jessica Irene Williams, will entertain, there will be an auction, and the MC will be Mark Sainsbury.

District Governor Changeover
This will be held on Sunday 26 June from 1.00-3.30 pm at the Tawa Bowling Club, Davies Street, Tawa when there will be an opportunity to thank DG Simon Manning and his team and to meet incoming DG Martin Garcia and Denise and the District Leadership team for 2016-2017. District Awards will be presented to Clubs at this event. You can register direct with the President of Tawa, Ken Pearson. The cost is $20 to cover the event and afternoon tea.

Membership List
Of course, the arrival of Leigh Corner has meant that the membership list needed to be amended. You can find the latest version, dated 10 May 2016, by going to Club Intranet, logging on and clicking on 'Full pdf of latest membership list' near the top of the right column. At the top of the column is the 'Club Members' Directory' and you'll find that Leigh has taken his place there too.

Fun with Phonics

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