The iDeaL Approach for Schools is a complete, comprehensive, and cost-effective approach that lifts literacy outcomes for ALL ākonga when delivered as intended.

iDeaL provides you with the knowledge and tools to teach foundational literacy skills in a systematic and cumulative evidence-based approach.

Download our PDF brochure (published May 2021)

Because Learning Differences Exist

We know that if we can prepare our teachers to teach the neurodiverse brain, this will in fact equip them to teach ALL students to learn to read.

Some brains simply need more exposureopportunityexplicit teaching and repetition than others.

The iDeaL Approach for Schools is suitable for use with students from Year 1 - Year 8 and also intervention in secondary schools. 

Hi, I am Carla McNeil; founder of Learning MATTERS, ex-school principal and classroom teacher, mother of a son with dyslexia, and a recovering whole language advocate.

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.

As advocates for change, Learning MATTERS set out to find an effective and efficient way to bring this teaching approach to all classrooms across New Zealand. A way that would see all teachers having the confidence and tools to truly make a difference to literacy rates in New Zealand. This is why we developed the iDeaL Approach to Structured Literacy.

Data we have gathered from a selection of schools across New Zealand indicates that many children on school entry have low foundational literacy skills . 

Less than 20% of students who have come into school are able to blend or segment sounds in words. 

Less than 50% of students are unable to hear initial sounds in words.   

If schools were to do what they have always done, they would take these children straight to a text, without the knowledge that these students are missing vital phonemic awareness skills.

We all go to school to make a difference to students.

How good would it be having access to a learning platform that will give you the tools to identify and explicitly teach, ensuring reading and spelling are not left to chance?

Introducing the iDeaL Approach for Schools

An online platform providing educators with an informative, diagnostic, systematic, and cumulative approach to deliver Structured Literacy through direct instruction in both mainstream classes and intervention settings.

The iDeaL Approach:

  • Is founded on extensive national and international research perspectives and findings 
  • Provides professional learning and knowledge to teach explicitly 
  • Provides a systematic, cumulative and clear scope and sequence aligned to resources and decodable texts 
  • Is diagnostic and provides the tools to measure students’ progress 
  • Is New Zealand’s only online Structured Literacy platform, and can be accessed anywhere online 
  • Aligns consistent practice in a whole-school approach 
  • Creates an evidence based, consistent educational pathway for ALL ākonga and kaiako 
  • Provides an online community which connects and supports through shared experiences 
  • Is tried, tested and trusted by kaiako across New Zealand.

View a tour of the iDeaL Online Platform

NB: this tour was recorded via a live webinar in August 2021.

"It is critical that difficulties learning to read are identified as early as possible and that intensive and well-targeted interventions are provided to students. Teachers must take action when difficulties with reading are identified, rather than waiting for a formal diagnosis of dyslexia" (Hanks, 2011).

So what's included in the iDeaL Approach?

​Professional Online Learning Modules

Learn about: The Science of Reading, The Principles and elements of Structured Literacy, The Process of Orthographic Mapping, Reading Fluency, Syllable Types and Syllable Division and Spelling Rules. 

Each module includes carefully selected materials including videos and readings and a quiz at the end of each module to check your progress. These modules may be completed individually, in teams and or as a whole staff. 

Assessment Tools

The ability to determine your students’ capabilities and immediate teaching needs in both phonological awareness and alphabetic principle (fluency assessments under development).

Stage 1, 2, 3 and 4 assessments which are able to be administered to all Students in years 1-13, and students who are struggling with reading and writing. The ability to measure progress in areas that sit beneath reading fluency and give greater insight into what might have been missing in your current teaching approach.

Individual, Group and Comparison Reporting

Student data can be entered into the iDeaL platform and will save automatically. Reports for individuals, groups, classes, cohorts and across a whole school will be generated and show you where to begin teaching. Progress and comparison reports generated throughout the year are used to report to parents, school leaders and the Board of Trustees.

Teaching Resources

We provide a comprehensive suite of teaching resources including phonological awareness and alphabetic principle scope and sequences, lesson powerpoints and teaching material, instructional practice videos, 40 systematic concepts, roll and read activities for building fluency, vocabulary activities, and over 50 electronic decodable texts.

"It has helped us to identify the strengths and challenges of learners earlier than we have before. 

It has helped us to identify their specific learning needs and to explicitly teach to these. They are accessing text like they haven’t before.”

Classroom teacher

Why choose the iDeaL Approach for Schools?

Improved Teacher Knowledge

Teachers will become increasingly knowledgeable, as they work through carefully selected learning modules to help build their capabilities in order to successfully teach crucial literacy skills.

School wide consistent pedagogy and practise

When implemented across a team or school a consistent and sustained pathway will begin to develop. Students will build on foundation literacy skills with success because teachers know how to teach each and every brain to read. 

Access to tools for assessment & all teaching resources

Teaching at their fingertips. No planning necessary. Assessments which have been designed to guide and direct systematic teaching practices and provide a personalised learning plan for students.

The ability to grow as a community of learners

Become part of the iDeaL community and experience success together! Grow your knowledge alongside your colleagues as you work towards consistent evidence based knowledge and practices. 

Happy and confident teachers

Increased student outcomes and supportive and engaged whanau. No second guessing. Be reassured that you are not leaving reading to chance!

So what do other people think about the iDeaL Approach?

Hear from Ladbrooks School Principal Penny O'Brien and Deputy Principal Keryn Wilson about their journey with implementing the iDeaL Approach to Structured Literacy.

You can also view an interview with Penny O'Brien on TVNZ Breakfast where she discusses with Jenny-May Clarkson how Structured Literacy benefits ALL and is essential for some.

For more Structured Literacy media coverage head to our media page.

Hear from Holy Family Catholic School Principal Jo McKay as she Chit Chats with Carla about the school's journey of implementing a whole-school approach to Structured Literacy.

View a case study highlighting Holy Family Catholic School's implementation of Structured Literacy using the iDeaL Approach, and an article featured in the Education Gazette.

You can view more Chit Chats with experts in education and literacy via our Chit Chat page.

So what does it cost to become part of the iDeaL Community?

Investment for an annual membership

Per User up to 9 Users

$249 + gst per user (per annum) for single users or schools of up to 9 users.

Per user 10 - 19 Users

$229 + gst per user (per annum) for schools with between 10 - 19 users.

20 or More Users

$199 + gst per user (per annum) for schools of 20 or more users.


Contact our team to discuss consultancy investment.

Still have questions?

Does every teacher in my school have to sign up to iDeaL?

You can sign up as an individual teacher, or every teacher in your school can sign up. We can cater to all requirements.

How many students can I have for my membership?

Per user you can have up to 35 students added to your class on the iDeaL Online Platform. 

What support do I receive?

As part of your membership, you will become part of our iDeaL Community. This means you will receive monthly newsletters, become a member of our iDeaL Community Facebook page where we host live Q and A sessions and webinars, plus you have access to step by step instructions to help guide you through using the iDeaL Online Platform. 

Who is iDeaL for?

Whole Schools, Individual teachers, Sencos, RTLBs, RT Lits, LSCs and homeschooling parents.

I am a Homeschooling parent, can I access the iDeaL Schools platform?

Yes, absolutely provided you have been granted an exemption to homeschool.
Head to our iDeaL Approach for Homeschooling web page for more information. 

Will my school senco, teacher aides have access to the platform too?

Please contact us to discuss your particular setup needs.

What is involved in implementing iDeaL as consultancy school?

As a consultancy school our team work with you to assist the implementation of Structured Literacy using the iDeaL Approach. Learning MATTERS’ Consultants are engaged for their evidence-based knowledge and practice in facilitating Structured Literacy and the change process, as well as their ability to build relational trust to guide and enable their peers through the iDeaL Pathway of Delivery, supported with the iDeaL Online Platform.

Do we have to work with you in a consultancy capacity to access this?

No. You can access the iDeaL Online Platform independently.

Do you have more information on the development of the iDeaL Approach?

Yes, you can view our theoretical underpinnings document for more information on how the iDeaL Approach has been developed and the theories it is based on.

I’m guessing you will be thinking 1 of 2 things

You are so ready for this...

In fact, you now realise you need to develop your knowledge and you want ALL teachers to be on the same page.

This sounds great, but...

I would like to talk to someone further about the iDeaL Approach for Learning. One of our team will be able to talk through your specific circumstances and whether iDeaL is the right fit for you. 

“As a leader I am excited about the whole school journey and the fact that when I talk about a 'dictated sentence' we all know what that sounds and looks like. Knowing that what we are doing now is making a difference. 

To think where we will be in time both as a staff with an increased awareness and knowledge and when the students who are now in the Junior Block are leaving our school as Year 6's.” 

Senior Teacher and Literacy Teacher


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