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Literacy means organisational change

Re-culturing for literacy improvement in secondary schools

If there's one thing that I know for sure, it is that anything you do with literacy in a secondary school involves change.

Organisational change.

Big, messy, complicated culture change.

And that's if you do it the right way! If it doesn't change the school culture, it's not worth doing.

Let me explain.

Teachers learn new knowledge about language and (heaven help us!) grammar.


Teachers are encouraged to try new scaffolding pedagogies in the classroom to support student literacy.


Teachers collaborate with their peers on writing model texts and preparing for assessment tasks in new ways.


A consultant might come in to teach about genres and language features.


And that's why I really want you to realise, take in and feel in your bones that

any literacy initiative in schools involves profound organisational change.

It sounds obvious, but have you really thought about it?

As literacy leaders, we need to be realistic about what we are doing and to plan for change, not just try to go for the quick fix. I know you want to support struggling learners, improve NAPLAN results and boost exam results. Who doesn't? You're under pressure from the school executive, from the Board, from parents, from the My School website.

But for lasting, profound improvements in literacy, it helps to consider the implications for literacy as organisational change.

Change creates stress, anxiety, challenge and possibly the implementation dip. (See the implementation dip post for more.)

Change can also be uplifting, exciting and positive. I hope it is! I have devoted my professional life to supporting literacy in secondary schools and that's the kind of change I live for.

Literacy change involves re-culturing. Here's what organisational change expert Michael Fullan has to say about it:

'Transforming the culture—changing the way we do things around here—is the main point.
I call this re-culturing.
Leading in a culture of change means creating a culture: (not just a structure) of change. (Fullan 2019)

That's what you're doing with literacy professional learning initiatives.


But you are not alone.

I hope this blog can support you to re-culture your school for literacy success. Contact me to download my guide to improving whole school literacy in secondary schools or get in touch using the contact page.


Fullan, M. (2019). Leading in a culture of change. Second Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

To reference this page, please cite:

Weekes, T. (2021, October 2]. 'Literacy means organisational change'. [Blog post]. Retrieved from


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