Parents Voice in Government School Education

Grattan Institute: we need a ‘reading revolution’

The long-running debate about the best way to teach children to read was re-ignited in February 2024 by a report from the Grattan Institute. Under the heading ‘Victoria needs a reading revolution’, the report says a third of our children can’t read proficiently. Grattan Institute Education Program Director, Dr Jordana Hunter said, “Australia is failing these children. And it’s a preventable tragedy – the reason most of those students can’t read well enough is that we aren’t teaching them well enough.”

Media coverage – our view

The report was covered extensively in the media, including this article in the Age by Robyn Grace. We have been approached by several media outlets for comment on this issue. Parents Victoria CEO Gail McHardy made the following point in her media comments:

  • This report covers all students across Australia – not just Victoria.
  • The report does reaffirm the recent Victorian student literacy outcomes as mentioned above in this issue of Parents Voice.
  • We need to be aware that Victorian public schools are autonomous – they are able to make their own decisions about teaching methods.
  • The NSRA bilateral agreements impose targets and reforms on the states and territories regarding student outcomes.
  • School funding plays a significant part in enabling schools to implement any literacy improvement strategies and additional staff/learning resources to support students.
  • The Grattan Institute report included a suggested 6-point Reading Guarantee. We believe parents would think that the first 5 out of the 6 should already be happening in schools.
  • Many parents may not be familiar with the language used in this area; phonics, structured literacy, balanced literacy etc. They also may not understand what testing is used to arrive at the literacy outcomes that are so often quoted. Parents need clear and consistent communication in order to understand what is going on.

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