Who we are
The Learning Staircase was created in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2001 to provide quality literacy resources for learners of all ages. The Company started by designing and producing ‘hands-on’ game and activity resources which could be used to teach phonological awareness, language skills and literacy knowledge. We then went on to produce the workbook courses, First Steps and Steps to Literacy, which provide a structured, sequential literacy course which incorporates all the processing skills involved in literacy.
In 2006, we started working on our software program, Steps, which was launched officially in 2009. We were frustrated with some of the poorly designed ‘edutainment’ software we had seen – lots of cartoon characters jumping up and down and little genuine learning taking place! Our aim was to produce a highly effective, research-based literacy software program, which would be enjoyable and easy to use with learners of any age.
Until the February 2011 earthquake, we had a 400 sqm tuition and assessment centre in Christchurch and we had gained a national reputation in the three years we had operated the Centre, with teachers coming from all over the country to observe, and children coming from all over the country for intensive courses or assessments. Unfortunately, the earthquake forced the closure of the Centre and the rest of the Company now operates from our home address, focussing on product development and training.
Our philosophy is that learning should be both effective and fun. Materials need to be visually interesting, but not cluttered or ‘childish’. Materials and methodology need to be highly structured, but easy to use and software needs to be intuitive for both teachers and learners. We are passionate about the materials we develop and regard Steps as ‘the specialist course which can be used by non-specialists’. Our materials obviously need to be used properly, if they are to be effective. The best ‘tool’ in the world is useless if used incorrectly! However, we provide extensive training materials and courses, PD in schools and educational support to all users. If a parent or teacher/teacher aide uses the materials correctly, they will be covering the key processing skills and knowledge effectively, even if they don’t have an in-depth knowledge of this area themselves.
All of our own resources are designed, printed and produced in Christchurch, because we believe it is important to support local companies.
As well as producing our own materials and software, we also retail a small range of educational software from the UK and USA. However, we only retail programs we would recommend and use ourselves.
Steps is now being used in over 800 schools, and it is starting to be used extensively abroad, particularly Australia, UK, Ireland, India and Dubai. The program is also used by specialist tutors and centres, as well as by many SPELD tutors. Our aim is to continue to develop Steps, improving the program and adding new content and functions, which can be downloaded by all of our users. Our intention is that it remains a cost-effective, user-friendly resource for both families and schools.
Our passion has always been to help children and adults achieve their potential. We are first and foremost teachers and educators (and parents, of course)! We try to support the community as much as we can. As a Christchurch company, we felt it was essential to support other earthquake-affected organisations and we offered free software and training to all schools in the Christchurch area. This offer was taken up by 63 schools and we provided a day’s free training to over 100 teachers. We still heavily subsidise training in the Christchurch area.
We also provide free software to children’s hospitals, such as Starship, where there are often children who need to continue their education during long-term stays in hospital.
We have provided free or subsidized software to charitable organisations working with a range of learners. This includes migrant and adult-literacy organisations within New Zealand.
We have free technical support – and even have the facility to remote-access your computer and fix things for you! We also offer educational advice and support. Ros, who is a specialist tutor and assessor (NZQA registered ‘C’ grade assessor), will look through assessment reports and other background information about children and can give advice on suitable resources and teaching approaches.
Meet The Team
Our Managing Director, Ros Lugg, is a specialist teacher and assessor with extensive experience in New Zealand and the UK. As well as being in demand as a speaker and as a consultant in schools, she is responsible for the initial design of our products. Our aim is to provide a complete service and, where possible, individual support to all our clients. Ros can be contacted for advice by e-mail on ros[at]learningstaircase[dot]com[dot]au.