25 minutes a day in F-2 so everyone can read!

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Photo: Taaalia, https://www.flickr.com/photos/taaalia/5191198250.

Melbourne newspaper The Age is holding its Schools Summit, you can find their blog about this here.

The big announcement from this summit is that explicit teaching of systematic, synthetic phonics in the first three years of school will be required of all Victorian schools from 2025. Here’s a screenshot from the Premier’s media release entitled “Making best practice common practice in the Education State”:

An article The way children are taught to read in Victoria is about to change provides more detail, but it’s pay-walled if you’re not an Age subscriber. If you are, please make time to leave a comment. Here’s mine:

Kudos to Education Minister Ben Carroll for learning about reading research, and acting on it. Everyone in education and beyond will benefit when all children are taught to read and write in the most effective, efficient way, especially children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

A win for kids and teachers

This announcement must be implemented in a pro-teacher way, recognising the yawning gap in language knowledge in most teacher preparation degrees, and the vast amount of work so many teachers have done in their own time to upskill themselves and others, and get us to this point (yes, Sharing Best Practice, Reading Science In Schools, TFE, SPELDs, LDA, SOTLA, Berys Dixon and Maureen Pollard, I’m looking at you).

This decision should give early years teachers faster success teaching all children to read and write, especially those who struggle. It should reduce later years teachers’ differentiation workloads. Fewer parents will have to spend money on intervention outside school. Fewer kids whose parents can’t afford intervention will miss out on quality teaching about our complex writing system. More success for all means better behaviour and less class disruption. This announcement should help block the school-to-prison pipeline.

I’ve been doing little happy dances about the announcement all morning, but this is only the beginning. The hard work of implementation starts now.

Helping schools choose quality phonics practice texts

Practice makes permanent, so schools need to choose high-quality, good-value phonics practice texts, and make them available to all F-2 children. Our North Fitzroy office is about the only place in Victoria where a wide range of decodable books suitable for F-2 are on display. Next term, I’ll be running small (up to 12 people) three-hour workshops about them on Wednesdays and Thursdays after school, and fortnightly on Saturdays.

There are also a couple of 22nd June workshops for people needing urgent help getting value for EOFY unspent cash, and some workshops for interventionists, librarians, adult educators and parents. I hope this is a useful way to support implementation of this important announcement, and ensure children are given quality phonics practice texts, and Victorians’ money is spent wisely. All the dates and times are on the workshops page, where tickets will be available soon.

Let’s set kids up for success

Finally, I’ve been thinking about the article “The way we teach most children to read sets them up to fail” Prof Pamela Snow and I co-wrote in the Conversation in 2015. Let’s hope everyone in the education system can now work together to ensure all children are taught to read in a way that sets them up for success.

Alison Clarke


5 responses to “25 minutes a day in F-2 so everyone can read!”

  1. Jemimah Hunter says:

    Fantastic news Alison!!! Thanks for the link to the Conversation article. A concise and thorough explanation. I’ll be sharing it…

  2. Cath McLardy says:

    You’re an inspiration- thanks Allison we are all looking at you too!!

  3. Berys Dixon says:

    Hi Alison,
    I think June13th 2024 will become cemented in our minds as the day the tide finally turned for all the children who have been casualties of the reading wars. Having met with Ben Carroll to discuss this issue just last week, I can confirm he is totally committed to the hard grind of making this work. And I am pleased to say he now has some decodable books in his possession!
    Thank you for including me in your list above but much kudos needs to be given to you. Your wise words and practical resources have been the inspiration for countless numbers of practitioners, parents and, most importantly, all those kids out there who discovered that they can learn to read when given the right instruction.

  4. Nicole Avery says:

    This is long overdue and a huge win for Victorian kids (parents and all those who help kids read, like you!) Thank you for always being such a level headed voice championing for the teaching of systematic, synthetic phonics.

    • alison says:

      Thanks for helping me set up this website! And for all the other help and encouragement along the way. Let’s hope that so many enthusiastic wonderful teachers get on board with the new system that soon every child learns to decode and spell quickly and well, and nobody would ever want to go back to the bad old days of teaching kids to memorise and guess words instead of decoding and spelling them. I’m off home to have a nice Adapt Drinks drink before bed tonight, thanks also for helping me drink less alcohol.

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