PALL with Indigenous Communities

Principals as Literacy Leaders with Indigenous Communities

PALLIC builds on the success of Principals as Literacy Leaders (PALL) which commenced in 2009 as part of the Commonwealth’s Literacy and Numeracy Pilots in Low SES School Communities. Both are initiatives of and managed by the Australian Primary Principals’ Association (APPA).

PALL was a joint venture with three universities; Australian Catholic University, Edith Cowan University and Griffith University. Each of the universities contributed to the development of five modules as part of a professional development program for principals. 60 principals participated in the program from three states (South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland) and one territory (Northern Territory) with 15 principals involved from all sectors in each of these states and territory. All were in low SES schools. In between the training activity, principals were supported by Literacy Achievement Advisors who were highly experienced, retired principals.

PALLIC ran from July 2011 to December 2012 under the direction of Griffith University in Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia across 46 nominated school sites with medium to high Indigenous student enrolments. The schools’ 46 Principals and their Indigenous Leadership Partners (ILPs) (and then in the latter stages others from the school community called ‘Learning Catalysts’), will work with 6 Literacy Leadership Mentors (LLMs), who are mid-career practising principals on secondment from their respective jurisdictions. The allocation of LLMs is: 1 in NT, 2 in SA and 2.4 in Qld who have been allocated caseloads from 3 schools up to 13 schools each.

While the learning framework, training modules and level and type of support are modelled around PALL, the significant differences with PALLIC are that it concentrates on three major reform areas:

  • Evidence based teaching of reading for Indigenous students
  • School leadership which builds on home-school-community partnerships for children learning to read
  • The use of data to plan and implement intensive action plans for reading improvement.

Griffith University will also undertake research that gathers evidence to understand the factors that contribute to improved Standard Australian English (SAE) literacy in different Indigenous community environments, including parent partnerships, in order to use the findings to inform future project up scaling in comparable school communities.

The PALLIC project objective was to develop the literacy and leadership capabilities of school and community leadership teams and thereby improve SAE literacy outcomes for Indigenous students in partnership with their families. In a nut shell, PALLIC is about Principals and their Indigenous Leadership Partners coupled with their school’s Learning Catalysts working together with support from Literacy Leadership Mentors to make a difference to the teaching of reading in their schools.

PALLIC funding is managed by APPA and the project’s direction by a Management Committee made up of representatives from APPA, State and Territory Education and Griffith University. Also proposed, is a smaller National Steering Committee made up from some of the above representatives. As well, each state will have their own small management group. The PALLIC facilitators are from Griffith University: Professor Neil Dempster, Professor Greer Johnson, Dr Amanda Webster and Adjunct Professor Jan Robertson.

PALLIC project description


The BIG 6 or Reading articles

anne_bayettoAs part of the APPA Principals as Literacy Leaders and Principals as Literacy Leaders with Indigenous Communities projects, Anne Bayetto of Flinders University was commissioned to develop a series of articles on each of the BIG 6 of reading (Oral Language, Phonological Awareness, Letter-Sound Relationships (phonics), Vocabulary, Fluency and Comprehension). All the articles are available to download.


Fluency is a key contributor toward independent and successful reading and is comprised of three components: accuracy, rate, and prosody (expression).
Download the article (354Kb PDF file)


Vocabulary knowledge is fundamental to being an independent and successful reader and writer and is comprised of the words that are understood when heard or read.
Download the article (393Kb PDF file)

Oral Language

Oral language is the foundation for the development of literacy skills and is considered to be a strong indicator of later reading, writing, and overall academic achievement.
Download the article (434Kb PDF file)

Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness is an individual’s awareness of the phonological structure, or sound structure, of spoken words and is an important and reliable predictor of later reading ability.
Download the article (849Kb PDF file)

Letter-sound Knowledge (Phonics)

Phonics instruction is an essential component of a comprehensive literacy program because it is a high-yield strategy to draw upon when attempting to name words that are not immediately known.
Download the article (446Kb PDF file)


Comprehension is about understanding authors’ messages and responding to these messages in a range of ways.
Download the article (618Kb PDF file)

PALLIC Podcasts

As part of the PALLIC project a number of support materials have been developed. One of these has been the production of two videos by Anne Bayetto, a Lecturer in the School of Education at Flinders University, South Australia. View the video titled The knowledge that principals need to have to lead reading and The evidence that principals need to lead the planning for improvement in reading.