Wednesday , April 1 2020
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National gov’t backs phonics with new funding

The Morrison Government wants teachers to teach kids to read with phonics. 

“Our Government will fund the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) to provide expert advice on incorporating phonics into the national accreditation standards for initial teacher education,” Minister for Education Dan Tehan said.

“I have tasked AITSL to create a small taskforce to advise on implementing the Government’s phonics in ITE election commitment.

“AITSL will draw on the taskforce’s expertise, focusing on ensuring graduate teachers can teach the fundamentals of literacy through learning how to teach the five essential elements of literacy: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency, comprehension.

“There is clear evidence that children benefit from phonics instruction in learning to read and spell so our Government wants teachers to have the skills to teach phonics well. AITSL will progress the proposed changes to the accreditation standards to all education ministers for endorsement in December 2019.

The government planned to introduce a free, voluntary phonics health check for Year 1 students so parents and teachers can better understand a child’s reading level and what support they may need. This received a mixed reception from educators as many insist the $10m allocation would be better spent elsewhere. 

 

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    The insistence of reducing the teaching of reading to 5 isolated skills is a threat to equitable teaching practices. There is no evidence that these five skills are more effective than other approaches. By reducing reading to five skills, we reduce a teacher’s ability to adjust their approach for the diverse range of learners in their class. Commercial edu companies want us to reduce reading to five narrow skills so their packages are more relevant and easier to sell. Our government is influenced not by research but by commercial interests. Everyone knows phonics is important. But how the government wants us to teach it is a reductionist view of reading benefitting only the commercial interests behind them.