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In order to read proficiently, students need accurate and fluent word identification skills and adequate language comprehension. Put simply, they must be able to work out what the words on the page or screen are, and know what they mean.
The most effective way to develop accurate and fluent word identification is to learn the code of written English through being taught phonics - the relationships between sounds in speech and the letter patterns in written words - especially through an explicit teaching method called ‘systematic synthetic phonics’.
Literacy policies and programs in use in Australian schools do not consistently support effective teaching of phonics, and many teachers do not have the necessary knowledge and skills to teach in this way.
A Year 1 Phonics Screening Check would be an effective and cost-effective measure, which would demonstrate how well phonics is being taught across the country and in individual schools, and supply the impetus to drive improvements in teaching.