Streaky Bay Area School to take part in phonics trial

Streaky Bay Area School is one of 54 public schools across the state to have been chosen to trial the new phonics tool which tests a child’s ability to identify sounds which form words.

The trial will begin in August and includes a Phonics Screening Check, a five-minute test for reception-aged children which is undertaken in lesson time that teachers spend working on reading with individual students.

It works by assessing a child’s ability to identify and apply different sounds in basic words, such as the ‘at’ in cat, to form longer and more complicated words.

Teachers will use the test results to apply different teaching methods to students of different ability levels, with the aim of improving reading skills.

Streaky Bay Area School principal Chris Roberts said the school was delighted to be involved.

“We have had a phonics program running for some time and that has had good traction with assisting students with learning,” he said.

“I know our students have learned to read quickly and well and have performed above the state average.

“We will be interested to see how our kids are going, they should do quite strongly and I think it can give us confirming information.”

Education and Child Development Minister Susan Close said this would assist teachers in assessing a child’s skill level.

“Phonics is considered to be fundamental to success in reading and is one of the six components teachers focus on when teaching children to read, along with phonological awareness, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension and oral language,” she said.

“Teachers work extremely hard to accurately assess a child’s skill level and tailor their teaching and this is another step in that process.”

Under the trial, schools will not be required to centrally report the results of individual checks and data will not be used for comparison between schools.

Many schools currently undertake a phonics check with children, and this trial will enable the Education Department to identify the best processes and practices for screening and the follow up by teachers.

This will enable schools to adopt the most positive practices and build consistency.

The UK government introduced their year 1 Phonics Screening Check in all primary schools in England in 2012, with year 1 in the UK equivalent to reception class in South Australia.

It takes five to seven minutes per student to administer by a teacher.

UK data indicated that the proportion of students reaching the expected standard in the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check has increased annually, and the number of students failing to achieve the expected standard in year 2 reading tests has fallen by one third during this time.

Minister Close said she was excited about the trial.

“We are excited to trial this new tool in public schools, which is based on UK evidence,” she said.

“Our aim is to see whether this form of testing is practical for teachers, and whether the diagnostic information provided will help them tailor their efforts towards more intensive and individual student support.”