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Better Start Literacy Approach

01 December 2023

The Better Start Literacy Approach is an integrated classroom literacy programme for Year 0/1/2 classrooms. The approach is based on several years of research trials investigating the most efficient, effective methods to support success in children’s early reading, writing, and oral language. 


Better Start Literacy incorporates vocabulary development using quality children’s story books, structured teaching of critical phonological awareness skills and letter-sound knowledge through fun, game-based activities, activities making explicit links to the reading and spelling context, and structured small group reading sessions using the new Ready to Read – Phonics Plus early readers series. The Better Start Literacy Approach follows a phonics scope and sequence that is used in the class and small group reading teaching.

The Better Start Literacy Approach also incorporates carefully designed monitoring assessments focused on critical early skills known influence reading success. This includes letter-sound knowledge, phonological awareness, oral language, word reading and spelling, and connected text tasks, specifically designed to monitor children’s literacy growth in their first year of school, and provide specific direction for teaching at the class and individual level.

Whānau engagement is a critical component of early literacy success. The Better Start Literacy Approach also includes whānau workshop materials and other supporting content such as weekly letters to parents and strengths-based reporting, to facilitate whānau-school partnerships and maximise children’s’ opportunities for early literacy success.

There are three microcredential options available for schools/specialists wishing to implement Better Start Literacy Approach in their school or cluster:  

The Better Start Literacy Approach (BSLA) is an evidence-based framework for facilitating early literacy success in young tamariki. Successful implementation of the BSLA requires literacy professionals skilled in supporting kaiako and kura to implement the assessment and teaching through a coaching and mentoring model.

Suitable professionals include Resource Teachers for Literacy, Resource Teachers for Learning and Behaviour, Speech Language Therapists or other literacy specialists.

Completion of this course will provide participants with all the skills and resources required to lead the implementation of the BSLA in their chosen kura, kāhui ako or cluster.

Facilitators must partner with two to three Year 0/1/2 teachers in order to complete the requirements of the training. Partner schools must be declared at the time of registration.

For details on the activities and time requirements for facilitators, click here.

Effective literacy teaching in a child’s first year at school can set them on a pathway to later academic and life success. The Better Start Literacy Approach incorporates the best practices for literacy teaching in phonological awareness, letter sound knowledge and oral language, with small group reading using a systematic reading series.

This course provides a practice-focused learning experience of evidence-based literacy instruction to ensure success for all early learners. Extensive coaching and mentoring support will be provided through a partnership with a BSLA Facilitator in your community.

The microcredential includes access to online, self-directed learning covering all aspects of the approach. In addition, teachers will gain access to the approach’s online assessment and teaching materials, including resources and lesson plans for classroom and small group reading teaching using the Ready to Read – Phonics Plus early readers.

Any teacher wanting to complete this microcredential must be partnered with a new or previously trained facilitator, whose name must be declared at the time of registration.

For details on the activities and time requirements for teachers, click here.

Supporting classroom teachers to implement high quality, evidence-based literacy teaching is part of an important role played by teacher aides. This course provides all the knowledge required to support the assessment and implementation of the Better Start Literacy Approach in New Entrant/Year 1 classrooms.

Teacher aides must be partnered with a teacher who is currently enrolled in (or has previously completed) the BSLA Teacher microcredential course, and this must be declared at the time of enrolment.

The BSLA Teacher Aide microcredential course is not funded by the Ministry of Education, but undertaking the course would provide excellent support to the class teachers implementing the BSLA, and is an outstanding professional learning opportunity for teacher aides.



Cost is $300 per person (includes course fee, access to all BSLA online resources, lesson plans, game activities, and assessments). Please note this fee does not cover the cost of a resource kete or oral language transcription and analysis for additional students beyond those allocated to the funded teacher/s the Teacher Aide is partnered with.



Details to be confirmed. Email for more information. 


Ministry of Education funding is available for facilitators and teachers to complete the BSLA microcredentials. Funding is not available for teacher aides.

Applications for the latest round of MoE funding are open between 6 May 2024 and 30 May 2024.  Schools will be advised of the outcome by 14 June 2024 and successful applicants will then need to complete enrolment with UC.  


MoE Funding covers:

  • the microcredential course fee (for facilitators and teachers).
  • a resource kete and access to online resources including lesson plans, game activites, assessments, data analysis and reporting.
  • two release days per teacher. This does not apply to facilitators.
  • reasonable travel and accommodation costs for facilitators to attend a two-day workshop. This does not apply to teachers
  • coaching and mentoring for teachers from a BSLA Facilitator. 


If MoE funding is not granted, teachers and facilitators may choose to self-fund. The exact fee is available on enquiry to Limited self-funded places are available.

How to enrol in a BSLA microcredential at UC

See also

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