Welcome to the iDeaL Approach

Providing the knowledge and tools to implement a Structured Literacy approach.

Hi, I am Carla McNeil; founder of Learning MATTERS, former school principal and classroom teacher, and mother of a son with dyslexia.

After years of research, professional development (both nationally and internationally), monitoring student progress and working with 1000’s of students with dyslexia, their teachers and families, we have seen the same incredible progress time and time again. How? By using an explicit and evidence-based approach to teaching literacy, known as Structured Literacy.

Structured Literacy is an approach to the teaching of reading, writing and spelling that is founded on an extensive multidisciplinary body of evidence-based research called the science of reading.

Learning MATTERS set out to find an effective and efficient way to inform and equip educators with the tools and resources to teach with this approach across New Zealand. 

This is why Learning MATTERS has developed the iDeaL Approach to Structured Literacy and the Learning MATTERS Intervention Teaching (LMIT) Certification.

We are a passionate team with an overarching goal to support an andragogical and pedagogical shift in literacy practice to ensure literacy outcomes are lifted for students in New Zealand. We believe this can be achieved through clear and consistent direction and with a Structured Literacy approach that aligns the explicit and systematic teaching of literacy to learners of all abilities. 

The iDeaL Approach Provides...


Assessments in phonological awareness, writing and reading sounds in isolation and letter formation, and spelling to provide diagnostic assessment data/reports that specifically direct teaching and learning to the starting teaching points within the iDeaL stages/phases.

Scope and Sequence

A scope and sequence that is systematic and cumulative. It is purposefully slow and thorough and has been developed based on an Orton Gillingham scope and sequence. The iDeaL Approach scope and sequence has been aligned to a variety of text series to ensure children have access to a range of texts.

Step-by-Step Resources

Concepts and lesson/tutoring plans that intentionally move slowly and build up over time, ensuring we help our children to develop the ability to lift words off the page and onto the page when writing. It enables the cognitive load in the brain to be freed, to then access further learning.

Knowledge and Tools

Knowledge and tools to teach in a way that students know what to expect. Resources are included that provide scaffolded repetition to build mastery of skills and automaticity. The predictability of the lesson/tutoring plan ensures they can focus on what they are learning.

The iDeaL Approach includes an online learning and resource platform that supports private intervention specialists, schools implementing a Structured Literacy approach, and participants in the Learning MATTERS intervention training certification.


Learning MATTERS' Managing Director Carla McNeil and Willow Park School's Theresa Kinloch join Matty McLean on TVNZ 1 to discuss Structured Literacy.


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