Early Action for Success

Early Action for Success (EAfS) aims to improve students' performance through targeted support for primary schools in the lowest quartile of NAPLAN performance in literacy and numeracy.

Find more information, including key term events, recruitment guidelines and the EAfS extension fact sheet, visit the resources webpage.

What is Early Action for Success?

EAfS is the department's implementation of these NSW government initiatives:

  • NSW Literacy and Numeracy Action Plan 2012-2016, the NSW Government's $261 million cross-sectorial commitment over five years to improve literacy and numeracy achievement in the early years of schooling (Phase 1).
  • NSW Literacy and Numeracy Strategy 2017-2020, the NSW Government's commitment of $340 million to maintain and extend the focus on early intervention and instructional leadership (Phase 2).
The initiative has been extended for an additional 12 months with an end date of January 2022.

Literacy and Numeracy in Early Action for Success

Literacy is a critical component of student success to learn at school and to participate in everyday life. The skills students develop in the first three years of school enable them to take on progressively more demanding learning tasks, and to progress through school.

Literacy is developed through listening to, reading, viewing and creating texts in spoken, written and digital forms. It is important for EAfS to develop a strong foundation in early literacy skills for students with particular focus on oral language, vocabulary, print knowledge, phonological awareness, phonics and comprehension.

It is also vitally important for students to develop an awareness of mathematics as a sense-making endeavour, seeing and using the flexibility inherent within numbers, operations and mathematical thinking to solve problems. As such, developing rich, connected number sense is a large area of focus in the early years of schooling.

Key features

There are five key features of EAfS supporting students in Kindergarten to Year 2 (K-2) literacy and numeracy:

  • instructional leadership
  • high quality professional learning with a focus on the early years of schooling, K-2
  • diagnostic assessment
  • differentiated teaching
  • targeted interventions

Instructional leadership

EAfS Instructional Leader

Instructional Leaders work with teachers to identify K-2 students who may require additional literacy and numeracy support and tailor interventions to address these needs. Professional learning opportunities are facilitated by instructional leaders for both school executive and classroom teachers through a wide range of approaches including peer observation, structured feedback on lesson observation, and one-on-one mentoring and coaching in specific aspects of pedagogy.

EAfS Literacy and Numeracy Lead Specialist

The  Lead  Specialist mentors and advises instructional leaders to provide timely evidence-based intervention and teaching strategies appropriate to context, school targets and the literacy and numeracy learning needs of students K-6.  The Lead Specialist also coordinates opportunities for instructional leaders to strengthen community of practice within and across school settings.

Diagnostic assessments

Diagnostic assessment is an ongoing practice that teachers use to consistently and continuously identify and address a student's individual literacy and numeracy progress and ongoing development needs. A range of tools can be used by teachers in this practice, including those used informally and at point of need in the classroom, such as observational assessments.

  • The Best Start Kindergarten Assessment identifies student's literacy and numeracy skills on entry to Kindergarten
  • The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check is a short, assessment that tells teachers how students are progressing in phonics. The phonics check assesses how students blend sounds together to read a word.
  • The Phonological awareness diagnostic assessment is a short assessment to help teachers determine how students are progressing in the subskills of phonological awareness, including word and syllable awareness, onset and rime, rhyming, and phonemic awareness. A student assessment analysis is available after lodging the assessment. This will provide teachers with feedback to inform decisions about next steps in learning for that student. Student responses are mapped to National Literacy Learning Progression indicators.
  • The Interview for Student Reasoning (IfSR) is a suite of teacher-led optional online numeracy assessments for K-10 students. The IfSR can supplement existing school practices to identify how students construct their mathematical understandings and to help teachers tailor their teaching more specifically to student needs.

Differentiated teaching

Differentiated teaching is tailoring instruction to suit individual students' learning needs in the classroom. Teachers have a suite of strategies to cater for student needs in literacy and numeracy based on:

  • setting individual goals
  • developing personalised learning plans
  • providing 1:1 feedback
  • regularly monitoring individual learning progress.

Targeted interventions

Targeted interventions are a means of delivering tailored learning support for students in literacy and numeracy. Research has shown that a tiered approach to the provision of learning support that involves quality evidence-based learning, regular monitoring and assessment of student learning and the implementation of targeted interventions has a positive impact on learning outcomes for those students at risk of not meeting literacy and numeracy standards.

Targeted interventions are designed in tiers to progressively adjust the intensity and nature of support according to how students respond. Student progress is closely and regularly monitored.

Early Action for Success evaluation

In 2016 an evaluation of the NSW Literacy and Numeracy Action Plan 2012-2016 was undertaken to demonstrate the impact of EAfS in government schools.

An evaluation of the NSW Literacy and Numeracy Strategy 2017-2020 is underway and expected to be completed in 2021. The evaluation will investigate if the objective to improve literacy and numeracy outcomes for K-2 students was achieved. The evaluation is being conducted by the University of Technology Sydney and will focus on the:

  • role of instructional leadership in schools and which aspects, or features, of instructional leadership are most effective.
  • nature and quality of the EAfS implementation and its outcomes and improvements in student literacy and numeracy attainment.


For additional information, email the Literacy and Numeracy team literacy.numeracy@det.nsw.edu.au

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