Phonics compulsory for Year 1 students

All Year 1 students will be required to undergo a compulsory Phonics Screening Check from next year.

01 December 2020
Female teacher sits in front of laptop with student next to her looking at a paper booklet.

The Phonics Screening Check assessment will be a compulsory part of the classroom from 2021 onwards.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the evidence of phonics effectiveness is undeniable, and from 2021 all Year 1 NSW public school students will undergo a compulsory phonics check.

“The evidence speaks for itself. The best results in reading for our students occurs when phonics is explicitly and systematically taught from Kindergarten before moving on to other forms of reading instruction,” Ms Mitchell said.

“We are building a curriculum and an education system that focuses on strong foundations using best practice.

“Using phonics to build strong reading foundations in the early years of school opens doors to success later in life.”

This year 521 NSW government primary schools and 47 Catholic primary schools joined a trial of the Phonics Screening Check with 23,975 Year 1 students participating.

The results of the trial were immediately available to teachers and aligned with the NSW English K-10 syllabus, allowing them to identify gaps in their students reading ability quickly.

In addition to the instant results, government primary school teachers were supported with online professional development to deliver effective reading instruction to students.

Ms Mitchell said that 98 per cent of teachers who were part of the trial found the information the Phonics Screening Check provided about students’ knowledge was beneficial and had an impact on their classroom practice.

“More than 95 per cent of teachers also said that they benefitted from the professional learning and resources to assist them in implementing the assessment, analysing the results and planning for what to do next in the classroom,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Tools like the phonics check are providing teachers with the data they need to provide targeted support to students who need it most."

"Because phonics is an efficient strategy to teach reading, and the check is a reliable way to identify gaps, schools will also be able to target teaching to suit individual student needs.

“We are ambitious for our schools and have a responsibility to deliver the best education to our students in a way that we know is the most effective.

“This is an exciting time for education in NSW. We are implementing initiatives that are world leading and that have been created using the best evidence.”

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