Articles – The Centre for Independent Studies

MEDIA RELEASE: Australian government urged to follow England’s lead on Phonics Screening Check

Jennifer Buckingham

28 November 2016

cis logo 640x360Australia should adopt the UK government’s Phonics Screening Check, according to new research published by The Centre for Independent Studies.

“The Australian government proposed a phonics check for Year 1 students in its May 2016 budget.

“There is a strong precedent for this policy. The UK government introduced a Year 1 Phonics Screening Check in all primary schools in England in 2012. The proportion of students reaching the expected standard in the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check in England increased from 58% in 2012 to 81% in 2016.”

Among English speaking countries, Australia has one of the largest proportions of children who do not achieve minimum standards in literacy by Year 4.

This could be turned around if schools used explicit, systematic phonics instruction as part of their literacy teaching, report author Dr Jennifer Buckingham said.

Report: https://www.cis.org.au/app/uploads/2016/11/rr22.pdf

‘Snapshot’ Summary: https://www.cis.org.au/app/uploads/2016/11/rr22-snapshot.pdf

“Literacy policies and programs in use in Australian schools do not consistently reflect the evidence on effective reading instruction, especially phonics,” she said.

“The only way to accurately determine whether children are learning the fundamental phonics skills needed for early acquisition of reading — before achievement gaps become difficult to close — is to assess what they know at a critical early point in their schooling.

“The UK Year 1 Phonics Screening Check could easily be adopted for use in Australian schools with some simple adaptations, such as modifications to avoid the ‘spike’ in scores, and stricter rules about which children can be exempted.

“The Check would be an effective and cost-effective measure, which would show whether phonics is being taught effectively across the country and in individual schools, and provide early identification of students who are struggling with this essential foundational reading skill.”

Jennifer Buckingham is a senior research fellow and director of the FIVE from FIVE reading project at The Centre for Independent Studies and author of the research report Focus on Phonics: Why Australia should adopt the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check.

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