Keeping young people engaged in reading

A message from Executive Dean of Education and Arts Professor Mary Ryan: The ability to read is a vital skill that opens educational and life opportunities.

The Faculty of Education and Arts is renowned for its diverse expertise and is at the forefront of world class research in reading education.

Following Queensland, NSW and the ACT, the Victorian Government recently announced that systematic phonics instruction will be mandated in all classrooms. This involves teaching children the relationships between letters and sounds in a structured and sequential manner and has been proven to be one of the most effective methods for developing early reading skills. This decision is not just a policy shift but a commitment to evidence-based teaching that promises to elevate literacy standards across the state.

Our rich depth of literacy research in the faculty covers a broad range of topics, from early childhood to secondary education and beyond, from print to multimodal and digital literacies, phonics and spelling to comprehension and writing. This breadth of knowledge equips us to address the evolving challenges in literacy education and lead initiatives that make a real difference in teaching and learning.

Our Australian Centre for the Advancement of Literacy ensures that current and future teachers receive high-quality training and ongoing professional learning underpinned by rigorous empirical research to achieve positive student outcomes in reading. We know that systematic phonics is a game-changer, setting children on a path to literacy that opens a world of possibilities. Our vision is that every Australian student leaving school has the literacy skills they need to pursue their dreams and contribute to the common good. This vision drives what we do, from our teacher training programs to our ongoing support for educators in the field.

We know that the early years of education are crucial for developing the skills that will guide children’s educational journeys and lives beyond. However, we also need to keep young people engaged in reading throughout their lives.

Our recent grant success addresses this issue, focusing on utilising digital texts to foster volitional, proficient readers. Associate Professor Laura Scholes and her team from our Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education (ILSTE) have been awarded over $539,000 for this prestigious ARC Linkage Project grant in partnership with three Queensland high schools.

The Faculty of Education and Arts continues to lead the way in literacy education. We are committed to expanding partnerships with schools and dioceses, and we regularly provide expert advice to governments. Recently, I had the honour of participating in the ACT ministerial inquiry into literacy and numeracy. The minister accepted all of our recommendations and has announced a $24.9 million investment to implement these initiatives.

With our partners, we are forging a path toward greater educational success for all our students.

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