Oscar Higgins 8 with mother Melanie, Oscar has Dyslexia. Deb Frecklington with Oscar at home in Carina Pic Jamie Hanson
Oscar Higgins 8 with mother Melanie, Oscar has Dyslexia. Deb Frecklington with Oscar at home in Carina Pic Jamie Hanson

Radical election promise to test Year 1 students

QUEENSLAND Year 1 students would undergo phonics testing to identify kids with learning difficulties under a State Opposition plan to improve reading and literacy levels.

LNP leader Deb Frecklington has promised that students from 100 schools will participate in screening in Term 3 of next year if her party wins power.

Phonics screening checks assess a child's ability to identify and apply sounds of letters or groups of letters and connect those to words.

Melanie Higgins, the mum of eight-year-old Oscar, meets with Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington to discuss LNP’s education overhaul. Picture: Jamie Hanson
Melanie Higgins, the mum of eight-year-old Oscar, meets with Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington to discuss LNP’s education overhaul. Picture: Jamie Hanson

Under the LNP's trial, Queensland students would be assessed by their classroom teacher with a 5-7 minute diagnostic exam, which tests a child's ability to identify sounds that form words.

But schools would not be required to centrally report the results and data would not be used to compare schools, she said.

"If I were Premier, the education system would get back to basics and help kids get back on track if they are struggling with literacy.

"I don't want kids left to struggle in the classroom.

"A phonics test in Year 1 will facilitate change to help pick up if a student has a learning difficulty like dyslexia and ensure they get the teaching support they need throughout their education."

South Australia was the first state to introduce a phonics check, followed by New South Wales and Tasmania, reigniting the so-called "reading wars" over the controversial testing.

The checks have federal backing, but teachers unions have opposed too much emphasis on synthetic phonics, and the extra workload.

LNP Education spokesman Jarrod Bleijie said the department would engage a leading educational research expert to help design and evaluate the Queensland trial.

Mother Melanie Higgins said she took Oscar now 8 to an educational psychologist when he was 6 after he was struggling with literacy despite being "very bright" and discovered he had dyslexia after tests, including a phonics check.

"For a diagnosis it's $1200 - $2000 dollars so if parents don't have the money these kids aren't getting diagnosed," she said.

Code Read Dyslexic Support Network founding member Tanya Forbes said dyslexia was often unidentified leading to negative outcomes. She said despite phonics being listed in the national curriculum, it wasn't being used alongside effective instruction.


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