Petition update

Support needed - Email your State Education Minister

Say Yes to the Phonics Check Australia

Sep 4, 2018 — 

Positive momentum is building nationwide.

In 2018 South Australia adopted the Year One Phonics Check; the NSW Department of Education offered teacher training in systematic and explicit phonics pedagogy followed by funding for decodable readers and Speech Pathology Australia hosted the Oral Language and Literacy in Education Conference with Professor Pamela Snow. Evidence for Learning will soon be publishing data from the Minilit Evaluation. Every conversation has the power to create a groundswell for change.

Today we ask you to make your voice count. The Education Ministers will meet again on 14 September 2018.

Let’s urge the Education Ministers to follow evidence over ideology.

Take a minute to email your State Education Minister and the new Federal Education Minister Hon Dan Tehan MP.  

Use this template and share your own personal story and concerns. Change is happening  - your email will make a difference. Thank you.


Dear Minister

Specific Learning Difficulties affect up to 20% of the population. Three to five children in every classroom of 30 will struggle with literacy.  To ensure ALL children learn to read we ask all states in Australia to adopt the Year One Phonics Check. The phonics screener is a simple check:

  • based on the UK version introduced in 2012 in ALL schools
  • designed to help teachers easily identify children at risk
  • identifies children who aren’t sounding out (decoding) words well

Petition supporters

In November 2017 parents presented over 3500 signatures urging Ministers to Say Yes to the Phonics Screening Check. The petition was brought together by a community of parents, speech pathologists, literacy academics and teachers who advocate for early intervention and structured literacy to support the 1 in 5 students with specific learning difficulties.

In 2018:

  • South Australia implemented the Phonics Check 
  • NSW funded Decodable Readers $50 per kindergarten child to all public schools

A decision to implement the Phonics Check Australia-wide will have a dramatic impact on the most vulnerable students who struggle to read, write and spell.

We urge the States to implement evidence based structured literacy programs to support all students at risk. The Phonics Check is the first important step to collect data and optimise literacy outcomes. We ask all States to:

  • Implement the phonics check 
  • Fund decodable readers for kindergarten children 
  • Train teachers in systematic synthetic phonics to ensure evidence based interventions
  • Support in school access to Speech Pathologists who specialise in literacy 
  • Mandate the systematic teaching of synthetic phonics in teacher pre-service education

Early years intervention is crucial - AUSPELD

A statement released by AUSPELD in support of the Check said “A major issue for most students struggling with literacy in both primary and secondary school is their capacity to read and spell accurately. This is directly attributable to poor phonic knowledge (the letter‐sound relationships underpinning Standard Australian English (SAE)). Students with poor phonic knowledge ‐ and therefore poor reading and spelling accuracy ‐ will invariably have difficulty with reading fluency, reading comprehension and written expression. Much of this damage could be avoided if the teaching of phonics was a key focus in the early years in all schools.”

No valid reasons not to implement check

There is no valid reason for each state not to implement the Year 1 Literacy and Numeracy Check and the recommendations of the 2005 the National Inquiry into Teaching Reading (NITL). (Source)

The NITL found that Australia’s low literacy standards were unacceptable then and that "scientific evidence for best practice for the teaching of reading was to teach the systematic, direct and explicit phonics instruction so that children can master the essential alphabet code-breaking skills required for foundational reading proficiency".

Recent statistics:

  • South Australian trials showed the children enjoyed the 1:1 time with their teacher. 
  • South Australian trials only 17 percent of Year 1 children achieved a score of 32 or more out of 40 last year (compared to 81 percent in the UK where the check has been in place since 2012)  (Source)
  • Students across Australia have achieved their lowest writing results since NAPLAN tests began, with more than one-fifth of year 9 students not reaching the national minimum standard. (Source)
  • Only 51.7% of Year 9 students achieved Band 8 or above in reading, which is the minimum benchmark standard in NSW (Source)
  • Four in ten high school students are leaving the public system without obtaining a Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE). (Source)

Please review the evidence and SAY YES to the #PHONICSCHECK 

Contact details for State and Shadow Ministers

Federal Education Minister Hon Dan Tehan MP

Tanya Plibersek Shadow Minister for Education 

Hon Grace Grace Minister for Education QLD  

Hon John Gardener Minister for Education SA

Hon James Merlino Minister for Education VIC

Hon Sue Ellery Minister for Education WA

Hon Jeremy Rockliff Minister for Education TAS

Hon Yvette Berry Minister for Education ACT

Hon Rob Stokes Minister for Education NSW

Hon Selena Uibo Minister for Education NT

Jihad Dib Shadow Minister for Education NSW

Jarrod Bleijie Shadow Minister for Education QLD

Tim Smith Shadow Minister for Education VIC

Susan Close Shadow Minister for Education SA

Donna Faragher Shadow Minister for Education WA

Elizabeth Lee Shadow Minister for Education ACT 

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