A simple, five-minute Phonics Screening Check could identify at an early stage all of Australia’s school children who are at serious risk of struggling with reading skills.
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.
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.
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.