Making phonics compulsory in NSW schools reaping benefits

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Making phonics compulsory in NSW public schools is already having a positive impact on student results, according to NSW Department of Education data.

Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning, Sarah Mitchell, said analysis of the Phonics Screening check data has revealed that 57 per cent of Year 1 students were meeting or exceeding the expected target, up from 43 per cent when the check was trialled in 2020.

“These results are extremely pleasing and show the importance of the government’s reforms requiring phonics to be used to teach all students to read as part of our new English syllabus for Kindergarten to Year 2.

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“The percentage of Aboriginal students that met or exceeded the expected achievement score increased from 18.4 per cent in 2020 to 29 per cent in 2021.”

“We know that early proficiency in phonics is the pre-curser to achievement in reading and writing.

“The best results in reading for our students occur when phonics is explicitly and systematically taught in Year 1 alongside other components of reading instruction.

“Therefore, phonics is a compulsory component of the teaching of reading under the K-10 English syllabus.”

Following a successful trial in 2020, the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check was made mandatory for public school students in 2021.

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In 2021 the check was completed by more than 66,000 Year 1 students across 1,615 schools.

The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check includes 40 words, which consists of 20 real words and 20 pseudo words. The words are set each year to provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their ability to use their phonic knowledge to read a word.

The inclusion of pseudo words ensures that students will need to use their knowledge of letter/sound correspondences to blend through the sounds in the word to read it correctly.

The check is completed in Term 3 each year, with results immediately available for teachers.