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Literacy learning progressions

What is Literacy?

Literacy is defined as students' ability to interpret and create texts with appropriateness, accuracy, confidence, fluency and efficacy for learning in and out of school, and for participating in the workplace and community. Texts include media texts, everyday texts and workplace texts from increasingly complex and unfamiliar settings, ranging from the everyday language of personal experience to more abstract, specialised and technical language, including the language of schooling and academic study. Students learn to adapt language to meet the demands of more general or more specialised purposes, audiences and contexts. They learn about the different ways in which knowledge and opinion are represented and developed in texts, and about how more or less abstraction and complexity can be shown through language and through multimodal representations. This means that print and digital contexts are included, and that listening, viewing, reading, speaking, writing and creating are all developed systematically and concurrently.

What is the purpose of the Literacy Learning Progressions?

The Literacy Learning Progressions outline a sequence of indicators of increasingly sophisticated use of aspects of Standard Australian English language. The Literacy Learning Progressions can be used as a tool to facilitate a deeper understanding of literacy development. They can be used to support all teachers in Victorian schools in developing a comprehensive view of literacy and how literacy develops over time. They support teachers to understand individual students' literacy development, independent of curriculum area, and they can assist teachers in developing targeted teaching and learning programs.

Where did the Literacy Learning Progressions come from?

The need to develop national Literacy and Numeracy Progressions was identified by all Australian education ministers in December 2015. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), using key national and international research in the area of literacy development, developed and tested the progressions from mid-2016 to the end of 2017. The Literacy Learning Progressions are aligned to the Victorian Curriculum F–10: English.

For more information on the National Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions, visit Australian curriculum - National Literacy and Numeracy learning progressions

Literacy learning progressions

Duration: 5 minutes

Literacy learning progressions transcript

Literacy learning progressions presentation

Understanding the Literacy Learning Progressions

How are the Literacy Learning Progressions related to the Victorian Curriculum F–10?

The Literacy Learning Progressions provide detail of how students become increasingly adept in particular aspects of Literacy. Content Descriptions and Achievement Standards continue to be the focus for planning, programming, teaching, learning and assessment in relation to the Victorian Curriculum F–10.

The Literacy Learning Progressions are not a curriculum. For all curriculum information, see Victorian Curriculum F–10.

Victorian Curriculum F–10: English

The Literacy Learning Progressions amplifies, extends and builds on the literacy skills in the Victorian Curriculum F–10: English and supports the application of literacy learning within other areas of learning.

The Literacy Learning Progressions are designed to help teachers develop a detailed and nuanced understanding of student literacy development, especially in the early years, by outlining a set of observable steps within particular areas of literacy learning. This can be particularly useful to guide teachers when planning interventions for their students' literacy learning, especially for students achieving above and below the age-equivalent expectations in Victorian Curriculum: English.

Relation to other areas of learning in the Victorian Curriculum F–10

Literacy underpins learning across the Victorian Curriculum F–10. While much of the explicit teaching of literacy occurs in the English learning area, it is strengthened, made specific and extended in other learning areas as students engage in a range of learning activities with significant literacy demands. The Literacy Learning Progressions are designed to assist schools and teachers in all learning areas to support their students to successfully engage with the literacy demands of the Victorian Curriculum F–10.

How can the Literacy Learning Progressions be used?

The Literacy Learning Progressions can be used in a variety of ways.


Literacy is part of learning in all curriculum areas in both primary and secondary contexts. Paying attention to the literacy demands of each learning area ensures that students' literacy development is strengthened so that it supports subject-based learning. The way the Literacy Learning Progressions are used may differ between primary and secondary teachers and between subject teachers in the secondary context.

All teachers, especially teachers of English, can use the Literacy Learning Progressions to:

  • identify the literacy capability of individual students within and across the Learning Progressions
  • support targeted literacy teaching and intervention
  • provide targeted feedback to students about their learning within and across the progressions.

For teachers focussed on other areas of learning in the Victorian Curriculum F–10, the Literacy Learning Progressions can:

  • support the development of understanding of the literacy demands and opportunities within their subject areas
  • provide support for teaching subject specific literacy.

Whole school

The Literacy Learning Progressions are designed to enhance student learning, and are more beneficial when used as part of a whole-school strategy that involves professional learning and collaboration between teachers.

At a whole-school level, the Literacy Learning Progressions can be used to:

  • promote and support professional learning in literacy
  • enable collaboration in building a shared understanding of literacy development
  • provide a common language for discussing students' literacy progress
  • focus explicit literacy teaching and learning planning and implementation.

Literacy Learning Progressions structure

Literacy Learning Progression map

To support teachers to use the Literacy Learning Progressions within Victorian schools, each Literacy Learning Progression has been mapped against the levels of the Victorian Curriculum F–10: English. Teachers are advised to familiarise themselves with this map.

The Literacy Learning Progressions map

How are the Literacy Learning Progressions structured?

The Literacy Learning Progressions are organised by the three language modes of the Victorian Curriculum F–10: English, and are designed to be viewed as an A3 document.


What are the key features of the Literacy Learning Progressions?

Each Literacy Learning Progression has a series of developmental steps that describe the progression of learning. Each Learning Progression has a 'span', indicating the placement and spread of learning across the levels of the Victorian Curriculum F–10: English. There is no set number of steps within each span nor do they start and end at the same time. For example, Phonological awareness has five steps in a span from Foundation to Level 1 while Understanding texts has eleven steps in a span from Foundation to Level 8.

Each step within a Learning Progression has one or more indicators and is more sophisticated or complex than the preceding step. The indicators describe what a student says, does or produces. The indicators are not in hierarchical order within a step. The amount of detail in any step is not an indication of importance. A single indicator at a more sophisticated level in the progression may rely on a number of indicators being evident in earlier levels.

The steps do not describe equal or specified intervals of time in students' learning. They are designed to indicate the order in which students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to be literate. As learning can be very rapid in the early years of school, the initial steps within a Learning Progression tend to be more detailed than the later steps.

In many of the Learning Progressions, subheadings have been included to assist teachers by grouping indicators into particular categories of skills that develop over a number of levels. Not all subheadings appear in all steps within a Learning Progression. For publication purposes, Understanding texts and Creating texts have been split into Parts A and B.

Some students will communicate using augmentative and alternative communication strategies to demonstrate their literacy skills. This may include digital technologies, sign language, braille, real objects, photographs and pictographs. The focus of the Learning Progression is on the development of the skill and not the method of communication.


Annelise Balsamo
Curriculum Manager - English
tel: + 61 3 9059 5141


The Victorian Literacy Portal is a source for all things related to reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Literacy Teaching toolkit

Australian Literacy Educators' Association

Victorian Association for the Teaching of English