This research is an investigation into the attitudes of staff to the use of integrated literacy programmes within Youthreach Centres. In order to address the issue of integrated literacy pertinent areas will be addressed; a brief background of literacy problems in Ireland and Youthreach’s response to same will be given, which will be followed with an outline of the current models of literacy education available. Ensuing from this will be an overview of integrated literacy programmes and their effective use in literacy education.
Literacy difficulties in Ireland are a cause for concern. Research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (1997) showed that: 25% of the adult population; 20% of those aged 16 to 25; and more than 60% of those who left school without completing the Junior Cycle; scored at Level 1 of a five level scale, indicating that they had significant difficulties with everyday literacy tasks. (NALA, 2002) In response to this the Youthreach 2000 document proposed the development of a national strategy for literacy education. The Quality Standards for Youthreach Centres (2005) advocated the development of an integrated approach to literacy/numeracy which should contain: assessment of literacy/numeracy levels of learners, development and implementation of an integrated literacy plan, availability of one to one support for literacy, inclusion of literacy awareness in staff induction, that literacy development be integrated into all aspects of the programme and that literacy programmes be culturally and environmentally relevant. However, Department of Education and Science Inspectorate Reports show a lack in the implementation of same in Youthreach centres.
2. Current models of literacy education
Traditional models of literacy learning and teaching are based on a linear model, using cognitive stages, whereby children acquire skills, knowledge and understanding in sequential, age...