Why the right and left can’t stop sounding off about phonics

Feb 26, 2018 by

Australia’s education stakeholders have argued over literacy for years now. What does the fight boil down to?

Raymond Terrace, just north of Newcastle in New South Wales, is an unlikely place to find one of Australia’s leading advocates of rightwing education policy.

It is a town with a long history of social disadvantage, a high proportion of public housing tenants and an unemployment rate that fluctuates with the fortunes of the coalmines farther up the Hunter Valley, but it is also where Jennifer Buckingham has perhaps made her biggest impact.

Buckingham, a senior research fellow in education policy at the conservative Centre for Independent Studies thinktank and a leading advocate for private and charter school education, chose Raymond Terrace public school when her two daughters entered primary school in 2008.

Like the rest of the town, it’s a school dealing with entrenched social disadvantage; 64% of its students are from the bottom socioeconomic quartile and a fifth are Indigenous, two key indicators of lower academic outcomes.

“The catchment we draw from includes a lot of kids coming from public housing, and students with itinerant backgrounds,” principal John Picton says. “A lot of our students come into school without very much, if any, prior learning in their background. That’s a challenge for a school, particularly from a funding point of view.”

So Buckingham decided to get involved. In 2010, she began working with Kevin Wheldall and Robyn Beaman, two education researchers from Macquarie University who developed MultiLit, a phonics-based intervention education program for kids who are struggling to learn to read.

The researchers began working in the school, while Buckingham completed her PhD on literacy and social disadvantage drawing her research data from the school.

Source: Why the right and left can’t stop sounding off about phonics | Australia news | The Guardian

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.