New Zealand’s Ko Awatea, Healthcare Hub of Excellence, Uses Improvement Methodology to Improve Early Literacy

April 21, 2017

Ko Awatea, a hub of healthcare education, improvement, and innovation to support New Zealand’s Counties Manukau Health (CM Health), serves one of the fastest-growing, most socio-economically disadvantaged populations in that country. Ko Awatea is embedded in the Counties Manukau District Health Board and supports health systems and public services through quality improvement projects and programs. One such program, Now We’re Talking, addresses early education quality by improving early language acquisition.

The problem? An increasing number of five-year-olds are starting school with much fewer words than other children. The improvement aim is to improve the oral language skills of 85 percent of the students, giving them a wider and more complex vocabulary. Twenty early learning centers, parents, and teachers partnered in an improvement process to learn how to maximize language opportunities. The team presented its spectacular impact data at Carnegie’s 2017 Summit on Improvement in Education. Not only did the cohort of children gain greater and more complex vocabulary, but variation in achievement between the centers went down and teacher practice improved so that all teachers now have the same skills to engage with the children. Learn more about the success of their early childhood oral language initiative here.