School operations

Middle Years Literacy and Numeracy Support (MYLNS) initiative

The role of Improvement Teachers

Direct support to students

Schools will be allocated a minimum of 0.2 FTE for direct student support in literacy and 0.2 FTE for direct support in numeracy. This allocation increases based on the number of prioritised students.

Improvement Teachers directly support students who are falling behind and are below year level expectations in literacy and numeracy (refer to the MYLNS implementation guideExternal Link for more information on prioritised students).

Improvement Teachers have the flexibility to support all prioritised students through:

  • in class co-teaching, such as:
    • teaching a segment of the lesson
    • providing in-class support for prioritised students
  • small group work
  • individual student support.

Support for students can include:

  • establishing and maintaining collaborative relationships with students, parents and other teaching staff to focus on student learning, wellbeing and engagement
  • identifying the education requirements of students with complex learning needs
  • monitoring and analysing student data to inform teaching for improved student learning
  • differentiating teaching practice to meet the students at their point of need
  • implementing high impact teaching strategies (HITS)External Link which enable prioritised students to achieve their full potential
  • tracking and monitoring student progress
  • providing student learning outcomes data to classroom teachers to support differentiation and inform the reporting cycle, as appropriate.

Sample scenarios

  • A Humanities class is working in small groups. One group is with the classroom teacher, one group is working independently, and one group is with a Literacy Improvement Teacher.

    The Literacy Improvement Teacher is working with a small group of prioritised students, plus a few of their peers who the classroom teacher thought could use additional support.

    The Literacy Improvement Teacher is guiding their group through a year-level text by pre-teaching key vocabulary and modelling through a ‘think-aloud’ on how students will make sense of the text. The Literacy Improvement Teacher then checks in with students about their understanding during and after reading.

  • A Numeracy Improvement Teacher meets regularly with small groups of students to preview the concepts that are coming up in their Mathematics classes.

    The Numeracy Improvement Teacher coordinates with the regular classroom teachers to know the language they are planning to use to teach the concepts, along with the learning intentions and success criteria for the unit. This ensures that students can be prepared to access the mathematics content.

Capability building

Schools will be allocated a minimum of 0.4 FTE for Improvement Teachers to undertake capability building in literacy and 0.4 FTE for Improvement Teachers to undertake capability building in numeracy. Where possible, it is recommended that the teacher providing direct teaching support to students in each focus area (literacy and numeracy) also build the capability of teachers at your school in that focus area, as the professional learning builds the improvement teacher’s knowledge, skills and expertise at differentiating teaching practice.

Capability building in this initiative should be understood and delivered as part of a coherent, whole-school approach. The teaching of literacy and numeracy is an essential responsibility of all teachers across the secondary curriculum, not only those who teach Mathematics and English. This means that while the capability building work of Improvement Teachers is underpinned by the direct support being provided to MYLNS prioritised students, it should aim to enhance the professional practice of all teachers. This includes further developing differentiation skillsExternal Link work with all students who have literacy and numeracy needs, including those at risk of finishing school without the requisite skills for future work or study.

Capability building can be further defined as Improvement Teachers working with whole school staff to:

  • Build knowledge: understand the ‘what’ of literacy and numeracy teaching, through current research on best practice; familiarity with system-wide improvement strategies and frameworks; and understanding local school context and priorities.
  • Build skills: develop the ‘how’ of literacy and numeracy teaching, through incorporating evidence-based pedagogy and resources; differentiation skills; and using data to diagnose student need, monitor learning, and assess impact.
  • Develop self-efficacy: increase awareness and confidence that all teachers can have a positive impact through offering differentiated literacy and numeracy support to all students; encourage self-reflection and a sense of autonomy among teachers; and regularly seek and apply feedback.
  • Develop collective efficacy: build a positive school culture that values collaboration and a team-oriented approach; maintain a coherent, whole-school outlook on addressing literacy and numeracy needs; facilitate opportunities for coaching and mentoring; and value emotional intelligence and overall well-being.

For example, Improvement Teachers can build the capability of other teachers through:

  • team teaching and co-teaching with teachers of prioritised students to share examples of best practice and strategies to support students at their point of learning need. This is effective when teachers have common preparation time to plan the learning intentions, success criteria, learning activities and common assessment tasks.
  • modelling lessons on how to differentiate teaching for students below the expected level. This is effective when teachers have common preparation time to examine class data and evidence of learning progress, and plan differentiated activities in response to individual learning needs.
  • conducting peer observations of learning with teachers of prioritised students and providing targeted feedback
  • being an active member in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) and sharing examples and resources of best practice in supporting differentiated teaching. This is effective when teachers have allocated time to examine student learning data and inquire into high impact strategies that meet the needs of all learners.
  • supporting teaching teams in their curriculum planning using student learning data and other evidence of student learning needs
  • delivering professional learning for teams/individual learning areas such as graduate teachers or Year 8/9 teachers. This is effective when it supports a whole-school plan for literacy and/or numeracy improvement.
  • professional conversations with colleagues, mentors, and school leaders. These conversations can be both formal and informal – incidental conversations during lunch, for example, or purposefully built into staff meetings and professional development plans.

The strategies identified above also serve as the basis for consistent monitoring of MYLNS capability building, which is required for successful implementation. Surveying staff on the impact of learning, including utilising existing data such as the School Staff Survey or otherwise, can also support this monitoring work.

The dynamic work of Improvement Teachers is strongly supported by a whole-school, multidisciplinary approach. This means the capability building element of the role requires coherence with the unique school context, local priorities, and Annual Implementation Plan (AIP), by supporting and facilitating active collaboration with stakeholders across the school community. These include:

  • SAMs
  • education support staff
  • learning specialists
  • classroom teachers
  • middle leaders such as Literacy and Numeracy Leaders and curriculum leaders
  • school leaders
  • parents/carers and
  • other Improvement Teachers.

An awareness of other factors that impact literacy and numeracy outcomes, such as student attendance, individual learning needs, and general wellbeing, are also vital to the capability building work. Lastly, as highlighted in the scenarios below, Improvement Teachers can engage in the dual elements of the role concurrently: working with other teachers to build capability, while also providing direct support to students.

Sample scenarios

  • A Science teacher and a Numeracy Improvement Teacher are co-teaching a class. Having realised that the lesson for that day would require students to balance equations, the Science teacher requested that the Numeracy Improvement Teacher come to class to teach a 10-minute mini lesson on balancing equations. Though this mini lesson is aimed in particular at prioritised students, many students in the class benefit from the refresher.

    After the mini lesson, the students begin working with equations, and both the Science teacher and the Numeracy Improvement Teacher circulate to provide scaffolds for struggling students and extend the learning for students who have already mastered the lesson’s objective.

    The Science teacher builds pedagogical content knowledge in numeracy by watching the Numeracy Improvement Teacher teach the mini lesson, which will help their teaching have the best possible impact on student outcomes in the future. The Numeracy Improvement Teacher also meets to discuss strategies with the Science teacher so that the Science teacher feels confident to deliver this content themselves next time.

  • A Numeracy Improvement Teacher is concerned that many of the prioritised students appear to be having difficulty grasping some of the basic concepts required to allow them to access more sophisticated knowledge.

    The Numeracy Improvement Teacher suspects that some students may have actual learning difficulties with quantitative reasoning. The Numeracy Improvement Teacher recognises that their knowledge base in this area can be improved, so they access the ‘Learning Difficulties in Numeracy’ video series that is found in the Mathematics Teaching Toolkit.

    The Numeracy Improvement Teacher watches the five videos and applies various elements of what is learnt to develop personalised learning plans for these students. The Numeracy Improvement Teacher is also able to develop advice and guidance for other teachers around how to work with students with learning difficulties in Maths and presents this to the Maths curriculum team at their next meeting. As a result, the Numeracy Improvement Teacher is asked by the principal to present this to all staff at a professional learning day later in the year.

Who can be appointed to the role?

Improvement Teachers are required to be qualified, effective and experienced classroom teachers. This role requires expert curriculum and pedagogical knowledge and should not be filled by less-experienced teachers or education support staff.

It is an individual school’s decision as to which teacher is appointed to the Improvement Teacher role and how this will fit with their current responsibilities.

Where multiple Improvement Teachers are employed in one school, it is recommended that all Improvement Teachers provide direct teaching support and capability building to other teachers.

To ensure continuity for students and for the initiative, it is recommended that schools continue to keep the same Improvement Teacher for a minimum of 2 years (unless they do not meet the requirements of the role). Evidence shows that at least 2 years is necessary to have maximum impact in the role.

Lessons learnt from MYLNS implementation so far show that effective Improvement Teachers demonstrate:

  • a growth mindset
  • curriculum and pedagogical knowledge to target students’ learning needs and differentiate teaching to support students at their point of need
  • the ability to build positive learning relationships with students and colleagues.

A school may choose to appoint their existing learning specialist, literacy leader or numeracy leader as their Improvement Teacher. Other schools will choose to allocate these roles to different staff members to build an integrated team approach and to champion literacy and numeracy improvement across their school.

If a learning specialist is appointed to the role, they will be required to manage their Improvement Teacher responsibilities (including by an increased focus on prioritised students) as well as their responsibilities as a learning specialist. This is part of their obligation under the Victorian Government Schools Agreement 2022External Link .

Improvement Teachers have access to an extensive professional development suite to support them in the role.

Guidance chapter on the role of Improvement Teachers

Reviewed 05 October 2022

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