Learning and Curriculum

Better Start Literacy Approach (BSLA) Year 0-3


BSLA is a literacy approach for Year 0-3 classrooms to support children's early reading, writing, and oral language success.

We have been using this approach at Aorangi School since 2022, to teach early literacy skills. All of our teachers in Years 0-3 are trained in this approach. 

What is BSLA?

The BSLA approach follows a phonics scope and sequence (a pathway for teaching and learning) and incorporates:

  • vocabulary development using quality children's storybooks
  • structured teaching of phonological and morphological awareness skills and letter-sound knowledge
  • explicit teaching in structured small group reading sessions 
  • explicit links to reading and spelling (extending to students in Year 2 and becoming more advanced)

When is it taught?

Intensity and frequency are critical components of this approach and a minimum of 4 sessions per week are taught including both whole class and small group teaching daily.

How is progress monitored?

This approach includes regular assessments throughout the year that are designed to monitor children's literacy growth and which provide direction for the teaching of the whole class and individual students.

What about learners who need additional support?

Should learners be identified as needing additional support, we provide them extra practice and teaching time (Tier 2 support).  

We also offer personalised approaches using structured literacy for learners who take longer to progress their reading skills as they move into Year 3 and beyond (Tier 3 support). 


We use the Read to Ready Phonices Plus books but we do also supplement the scope and sequence with a range of decodable texts that teachers can use to provide further support or to extend learners.

For further information, the Better Start Literacy Approach website is here.


Structured Literacy Year 4-6 -iDEAL  Learning Matters 

In 2023, Aorangi School adopted a structured literacy approach to teaching spelling and reading across our kura. This approach is grounded in extensive research that shows the most beneficial way for children to become successful readers and writers is with a systematic and evidence-based teaching approach, which is based on the Science of Reading.


Key takeaways from the Science of Reading include the following:

•  Reading is not a natural process. Previously, we believed that learning to read was as natural as learning to speak. 

• We now know that all brains learn to read in the same way and that these areas of the brain can be trained and developed. 

• We now know about the skills that good readers implement and the parts of the brain that are involved in the reading process. 

• Likewise, we know what aspects we should assess and teach to students who are not progressing in reading and spelling. 

• A Structured Literacy approach to learning to read and spell is necessary for all and crucial for some. 

• A Structured Literacy approach is the most efficient teaching and learning approach for dyslexic children and those with reading difficulties. 

• The teaching of spelling in a systematic and explicit way enables students to become capable readers and writers.


This structured approach to teaching literacy is where we teach in a sequential, systematic and explicit way. Our approach is based on the building blocks of reading success:

  Comprehension     l  Vocabulary      l  Fluency      l  Alphabetic Principle     l  Phonological Awareness


As a school, we have partnered with Learning Matters and use the iDeaL platform to ensure our teachers are well supported with this transition and the approach becomes embedded and sustainable across our school.


What does this look like in the classroom?



Further Information on Structured Literacy

As a parent, you may wish to learn more about this approach and the Science of Reading. You can find further information at the following links: 



Enhancing literacy learning outcomes for beginning readers: Research results and teaching strategies: Chapman et al. (NZ), 2018

Teaching Reading: National inquiry into the teaching of literacy: Rowe Report (Australia), 2005


Independent review of the teaching of early literacy: The Rose Report (UK), 2006


National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read: An evidence based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (USA), 2022