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The need for a year one phonics check globally – and Australia is on the way…

Hi Everyone,

Day 2 of the new site and my email account this morning is packed with messages of kind words and encouragement, and notification of many ‘retweets’ – the most any of my past Twitter messages have ever had! Thank you so much to all those who have responded so quickly and helped to spread the word! The website’s statistics tracker shows that we have had hits from over 50 countries thus far – the greatest number of hits being from Australia.

The call for systematic synthetic phonics provision informed by research (therefore with no ‘multi-cueing reading strategies’ that amount to guessing unknown words) is a really, really hot topic in Australia. It seems that the recommendations from the 2005 national inquiry into reading instruction in Australia (which helped to inform Sir Jim Rose’s independent review in England in 2006) have not been sufficiently followed in many (most?) schools. This means there is a huge call for intervention organisations and tutors in Australia to address ‘dyslexia’ which can be caused or exacerbated by inadequate phonics provision and the prevalence of multi-cueing reading strategies when children are asked to read books that they cannot read without resorting to guessing (multi-cueing reading strategies can be ‘taught’, encouraged or caused by default).

These are very exciting and important times for Australia, however, as Dr Jennifer Buckingham has the ear of Minister Simon Birmingham regarding the need for Australia to adopt a year one phonics screening check along the lines of the statutory phonics check rolled out in England in 2012. Results from England’s check have shown a year on year increase in teachers’ phonics teaching ‘effectiveness’ as more children reach or exceed the benchmark of 32 out of 40 words read correctly (for the 20 real words), or plausibly (for the 20 nonsense or pseudo words).

Jennifer has written a ‘must read’ paper recommending the uptake of a year one phonics check in Australia, and she heads up a newish organisation ‘Five from Five’ to inform folk about the international research-evidence for reading instruction – including practical guidance for parents and teachers. She is also a member of the Advisory Group for the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction.

Interestingly, Jennifer flagged up via Twitter an article of mine that we had not originally added to the ‘Debbie’s Articles’ section on the site which references the advantages and misunderstandings around the uptake of a year one phonics screening check. This morning, then, David added this article to the site along with a link to Jennifer’s very important paper with recommendations for Australia trialling and adopting a check which you can read about and access here.

And below you can find a series of articles I wrote featuring the uptake of the Year One Phonics Screening Check in England – timely for Australia where people may appreciate reading about the various ‘pro and con’ discussion points!

Phonics for fun, for life-chances and for life!

Debbie Hepplewhite’s response to talks and discussions held at the Westminster Education Forum Seminar: Testing and assessment in primary schools

‘The Great Debate – is it time to ditch the Year One Phonics Screening Test?’ Hepplewhite v Reedy

Debbie’s response to specific issues raised by David Reedy (United Kingdom Literacy Association) re the Year One Phonics Screening Check