Thursday, 19 October 2023


Literacy education

Literacy education

Renee HEATH (Eastern Victoria) (18:31): (533) My adjournment is for the Minister for Education, and the action I seek is for the minister to immediately release the taxpayer-funded study that has been blocked by the Department of Education in Victoria. The study, entitled Transforming Evidence into Practice for Reading and Spelling Instruction: A Descriptive Study of Six Victorian Schools, was based on a series of in-depth interviews with teaching staff in 2021 and 2022.

Something everybody in this chamber should be able to agree on is that we want to provide the very best education for Victorian children, and a strong literacy skill set is a strong foundation for learning. La Trobe University was commissioned by the Victorian Department of Education to look at six schools who changed from balanced literacy to the science of reading teaching. Its basis is: systematic synthetic phonics instruction, regular monitoring of progress, early interventions for students who appear to be struggling and the use of decodable books as take-home readers. Although the results were positive, the department has refused to publish the findings.

In an open letter to the department, the Code Read Dyslexia Network said it is unconscionable that the Victorian government is withholding robust academic research that supports the systemwide change to the way our teachers teach children to read – that it provides much-needed evidence to the Victorian education community that is embracing the science of reading and will lead to better literacy outcomes for all students. The network also said that balanced literacy needs to be removed from our primary schools and it is no longer acceptable for schools to choose their own adventure when the evidence is clear.

This research is a vital step in the right direction, and whilst one study on its own cannot answer all the questions, well-conducted research published in peer review journals contributes to the wider understanding and discussion. These publications create an environment where the department would have to take action and ensure that outdated practices are removed from our school system. Therefore I ask for immediate release of the report.