LNP phonics trial to boost literacy in Queensland schools

How Queensland kids learn to read will be improved through an LNP Government trial of phonics screening to boost literacy and ensure students don’t fall behind.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington today announced 100 schools would participate in phonics screening in Term 3 2021 if her party wins the next election.

“Literacy is one of the foundation skills kids need to ensure they get a job and succeed in life,” Ms Frecklington said.

“A five-minute phonics test could transform schooling life for Queensland kids struggling to read.

“Our education system should be supporting kids that need extra help to read.

“If I were Premier, the education system would get back to basics and help kids get back on track if they are struggling with literacy.

“I don’t want kids left to struggle in the classroom every day because their reading difficulty isn’t understood.

“A phonics test in Year 1 will facilitate change to help pick up if a student has a learning difficulty like dyslexia and ensure they get the teaching support they need throughout their education.

“Teachers will be empowered by the test results to apply different teaching methods to students of different reading ability levels.

“Phonics screening checks are already in place in three other states and they are backed by the Federal Government – it’s time Queensland got on board to improve student literacy.”

Phonics screening checks work by assessing a child’s ability to identify and apply different sounds in basic words, such as the ‘at’ in cat, to form longer and more complicated words.

The results from last year’s Phonics Screening Check in South Australia showed overall improvement since trials began in 2017, demonstrating that a renewed focus on phonics is lifting literacy outcomes and learning in SA government schools.

Under the LNP’s trial, Queensland students will assessed by their classroom teacher with a 5-7 minute diagnostic exam, which tests a child’s ability to identify the sounds that form words.

Schools will not be required to centrally report the results of individual checks and data will not be used for comparison between schools.

LNP Shadow Minister for Education Jarrod Bleijie said the Department of Education would engage a leading educational research expert to help design and evaluate a Queensland trial and the LNP would work with teachers to get it right.

“Teachers would be given the necessary training and support needed to undertake the program and parents would also be included in the process to ensure they understand the trial test and the benefits for their children,” Mr Bleijie said.

“This simple trial will provide a big impetus to drive improvements in teaching and learning. 

“Identifying early that children are at risk of struggling with reading skills can only be a good thing for kids and teachers alike.”

Code Read Dyslexic Support Network founding member Tanya Forbes said dyslexia was often unidentified and unsupported, which led to negative outcomes for many students.

“Early identification of children at-risk using the phonics screening check, combined with evidence-based literacy instruction, will ensure that all students receive the support they need to learn to read,” Ms Forbes said.

“This is an investment that will significantly improve literacy in Queensland schools.”

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