One of the great joys of my role as the shadow minister for education is to meet so many inspiring teachers and educators who are working so hard in our schools and university campuses to transform the lives of young Australians.
Last week, it was a great pleasure to travel to Bendigo, where I visited Holy Rosary Primary School and the Bendigo campus of La Trobe University. It was wonderful to meet with grade 6 students, who had plenty of good ideas about improving their school, and it was also fabulous to learn about the wide range of courses being offered at La Trobe Bendigo, including dentistry, paramedicine and teaching.
I was particularly inspired to learn about La Trobe’s strong focus on the importance of phonics and the science of teaching children to read. Reading is foundational to a child’s success at school and beyond. I am concerned that some of our teachers aren’t being adequately prepared by our universities to teach the basics in Australian classrooms.
I congratulate La Trobe, which in 2022 introduced the SOLAR Lab—short for ‘the Science of Language and Reading’. It is supporting schools to adopt well-established scientific approaches to improve how they teach children to read. While the explicit teaching of phonics is now part of the national curriculum, concerningly, there is a massive inconsistency in its adoption.
In Victoria, the focus has been on balanced literacy, where students are taught to memorise words using a combination of whole-language practices and phonics. Australian children need the best teaching methods to help them to reach their full potential.
We live in the best country in the world, and I want to congratulate La Trobe.