Literacy Guarantee to deliver for kids who need support

Year 1 students across all of South Australia’s government schools will undertake a phonics screening check in term 3 as part of the State Government’s comprehensive Literacy Guarantee program.

“A strong foundation in literacy in the early years is vital for students to succeed in later levels of education. That’s why the Marshall Government is pushing ahead with implementing our Literacy Guarantee package, including the phonics screening checks,” said Minister for Education John Gardner. 

The phonics screening check was trialled with reception and year 1 students in more than fifty primary schools last year. The check itself comprises 40 words that contain a mixture of real words and pseudo-words which students go through with their teacher, sounding out the words presented to them. 

“This method of screening check has been used in the UK since 2012 to show how well children know letter-sound relationships and how to blend letters and sounds together to form words,” said Mr Gardner. 

“The Flinders University review of last year’s trial showed a number of particularly important outcomes. First, teachers found the checks useful, easy to administer, and helpful in identifying students who needed some extra support. 

“Rather than being an imposition, as some had feared, it was described as ‘complementing’ other existing assessment tools. A number reported being surprised at the outcomes of the check - with more students failing to successfully sound out all of the words than had been expected. 

“However teachers and principals also reported that students enjoyed participating in the check – they loved the direct time they were able to spend with their teacher in particular. 

“The review, released publicly after the election, provides ample evidence of the benefits of the Marshall Government’s policy to roll out the check across all government schools this year.” 

South Australian government schools have now been provided with information to help them commence their preparation for the inaugural checking period this August, and training will be delivered to relevant staff in the coming months to ensure the check is able to be undertaken as successfully in all schools as it was in the 50 trial schools. 

“The Marshall Government is delivering on our commitment to implement a comprehensive program to improve literacy and numeracy outcomes for all students, with the benefit to be most profound for those students with dyslexia and other learning difficulties,” said Mr Gardner. 

The Department for Education’s Executive Director Learning Improvement Susan Cameron said building a strong foundation in literacy is crucial for students to achieve the best learning outcomes.

“Children with dyslexia and other learning difficulties face particularly significant challenges at school and we must deliver the best literacy programs in our schools to meet the needs of these students,” said Ms Cameron. 

“The phonics screening check will help teachers identify students who need more support so they can apply the necessary interventions as early as possible.”