Mark Nevill the author, self-published the first Kitehawk Literacy Program in 2004. The online version published in 2019, is based on the 2004 print program.
Mark Nevill graduated from the Graylands Teachers’ College in 1966, and was appointed to the government school at Balgo Mission in the southern Kimberley of Western Australia. Most of the Aboriginal children he taught were born in the Great Sandy Desert and had recently walked into the mission.
The children were taught in classes of 35 to 40 students with minimal equipment, no teachers’ aides or other financial support, yet most were functionally literate by Grade 4. The most effective tools of literacy education then, were phonics, dictation and grammar.
These important teaching techniques were neglected in Australia by education departments and by many education academics in the early 1970’s.
Phonics had worked for 300 years and unfortunately became unfashionable. The result was a deterioration in literacy standards generally, lasting well over 30 years.
Mark Nevill left teaching in 1970 after four years to study science and graduated from the University of Western Australia with a B Sc (Hons) and commenced a career in geology.
Aboriginal literacy always remained a strong passion and interest. Later when a member of parliament for outback Western Australia he constantly witnessed evidence of the worsening Aboriginal literacy standards.
In 2003 he commenced relief teaching in remote schools, mainly with Aboriginal students to help improve standards. He had attributed the deterioration of Aboriginal literacy to increasing truancy, but after teaching at a remote Aboriginal school in the Pilbara and Kimberley Region of Western Australia, he realised that students who attended school regularly were also way behind in their literacy, The successful methods of teaching literacy such as phonics and dictation had been neglected or abandoned and replaced by an ad hoc dysfunctional system that had no empirical basis in research.
Private tutoring and volunteer literacy tutoring in the prison system also demonstrated to him the need for the reintroduction of phonics. To address the problem, in 2004 he wrote and self-published the Kitehawk Literacy Program, a modern remedial program suitable for all students, incorporating the successful methods of the 1960’s. He donates his time and sells the Program for printing and postage costs only.
Phonics made a strong comeback after 2008 when the Federal Minister for Education convened an inquiry into the teaching of reading. The inquiry strongly recommended the reintroduction of the teaching of phonics. Since then the uptake of phonics has been increasing and the Kitehawk Literacy Program has played a significant role in improving the literacy of students and increasing the phonics knowledge of many teachers in Australia.
He has a Bachelor of Information Technology (Software Engineering) Deakin University and a Master of Information Technology (Computer Science and Software Development) Charles Darwin University.
Denis Doan of DD Innovations, a passionate software engineer and designer who made my written content for Online Levels 1 to 4, come to life on the computer screen.
Brett Nevill my brother for his support and for providing voluntary IT help for the Kitehawk Literacy Program since the first free website was built in 2004.
Elizabeth Taylor a retired high school teacher and voluntary Read Write Now tutor, who kindly donated her time to edit the online program and offered many insightful suggestions and improvements.
Alethea Tuitahi of CloudXS.com.au for her excellent work on building the surrounding architecture in the Thinkific Learning Management System to deliver the Kitehawk Literacy Program online.