Home School Management Why Victorian schools are going in all in with phonics

Why Victorian schools are going in all in with phonics


Why Victorian schools are going in all in with phonics

On Thursday, the Victorian Government announced that from next year, all public schools will adopt phonics-based reading education, bringing them into line with those other states such as NSW and South Australia.

Under the updated Victorian Teaching and Learning Model, to be implemented from Term 1 in 2025, all students from Prep to Grade 2 will be taught using a systematic synthetic phonics approach as part of their reading programs, with a minimum of 25 minutes daily explicit teaching of phonics and phonemic awareness.

At the core of the plan is a stronger focus on explicit teaching, which has been shown by research to be the best approach for the largest number of students.

In an interview with ABC Radio Melbourne, Dr Jordana Hunter, the education program director at the Grattan Institute, said creating a uniform practice for the teaching of reading would clear up confusion that many schools had been experiencing.

“We’re seeing a real mix in approaches to teaching reading in Victorian schools for decades now and this is really going to mean that teachers can have confidence that they can adopt best practice,” Dr Hunter said. “We should definitely see an improvement in the proportion of students that meet that proficient benchmark in NAPLAN in grade three.”

Victorian Education Minister Ben Carroll said the evidence shows that explicit teaching and the use of systemic synthetic phonics instructions “gets results”.

“While we already lead the nation in NAPLAN results, we’re always looking to improve, especially in relation to lifting outcomes for disadvantaged students,” Minister Carroll said in a statement. “We want to ensure that every student in a Victorian government school is taught to read using the evidence-base that fosters the strongest outcomes.”

Minister Carroll said the reforms and the rollout of the lesson plans will also reduce teacher workload and equip them with high quality, best practice materials so they can spend more time with their students and less time planning.

Speech Pathology Australia welcomed the announcement, saying the focus on explicit teaching through systematic synthetic phonics, aligns with growing evidence that supports its effectiveness in teaching children to read.

“We’ve been advocating for the introduction of systematic synthetic phonics into the curriculum for a long time,” Speech Pathology Australia President, Kathryn McKinley, said. “A child’s early years at primary school are critical for learning to read and this change means that no child will be left behind.”

McKinley said SPA is committed to supporting the successful implementation of these reforms, pointing out that speech pathologists can play a critical role in this process, particularly in the areas of phonemic awareness, oral language development, and early literacy intervention.

“Our members are equipped to support educators and students, ensuring that all children, including those with speech, language, and communication needs, can achieve their full potential. We commend the Victorian Government for its commitment to evidence-based practice in education,” she said.

“We look forward to continuing to work with educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders to enhance language and literacy outcomes for all Victorian students.”

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