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Education reforms: P is for phonetics

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Emily Waite
Emily Waite
Emily Waite has been the Editor of the North Central Review since late April, 2024. With a particular focus on delivering community driven stories, Emily has been responsible for implementing the new 'Words of wisdom' segment, and regularly reaches out to residents both young and old to share their stories with the paper. Emily graduated with high distinctions in a Bachelor of Music from JMC Academy in 2022, and graduated with a Graduate Diploma in Writing and Literature from Deakin University in 2023.

Phonics will be included as part of mandatory learning across the state in next year’s Victorian Teaching and Learning Model.

Though some schools have already implemented the evidence-based teaching technique, Victorian schools are not legally required to do so – however, this is soon to change.  

Minister for Education Ben Carroll made the announcement of the updated Victorian Teaching and Learning Model last month, stating that the new model will ensure equity and equality across the state.

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“We want to ensure that every student in a Victorian government school is taught to read using the evidence-based [technique] that fosters the strongest outcomes,” he said.

Argued as the cornerstone of teaching, phonics involves the explicit teaching of the grapheme and phoneme, a letter or group of letters that are used to represent different sounds.

The model will see all students from Prep to Grade 2 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 included in the reforms.

The teaching will form the core component of a comprehensive reading program that will also include the explicit teaching of oral language, vocabulary, reading fluency, and comprehension.

Latest NAPLAN results show that Victoria continues to lead the nation, ranking either first or second in 16 of the 20 measures, with the best overall results in Year 3 literacy and numeracy, which Mr Carroll is keen to see continue.

“The evidence shows that explicit teaching and the use of systemic synthetic phonics instructions gets results,” he said.

“While we already lead the nation in NAPLAN results, we’re always looking to improve, especially in relation to lifting outcomes for disadvantaged students.”

Schools and teachers will be supported to implement the new model through the provision of high-quality, practical lesson plans, first in English and mathematics, and then in science, design, and digital technologies.

The resources will play a significant role in reducing teacher workload, as well as supporting the delivery of high-quality teaching in every school that the State Government argues is backed by evidence and research.

Mr Carroll stated that the reforms would ensure Victoria continues to be the ‘Education State’.

“The reforms and the rollout of the lesson plans will 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,” he said.

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