Australian Catholic University (ACU) has welcomed the Victorian Government’s commitment to an explicit teaching and learning approach, including systematic synthetic phonics instruction, in government classrooms.

ACU Executive Dean of Education and Arts Prof Mary Ryan said the announcement by Victorian Education Minister Ben Carroll to mandate the practices as part of an update to the Victorian Teaching and Learning Model was a win for the state’s school children.

‘As Australia’s largest provider of teachers, we are thrilled that the commitment we’ve made in our undergraduate and postgraduate teaching degrees, as well as our microcredential courses, to strengthen the focus on systematic phonics instruction and explicit teaching is being backed by this Victorian Government decision,’ Prof Ryan said.

‘We know through the research being done by our experts, including those who are spearheading our Australian Centre for the Advancement of Literacy and new ACU Literacy Clinic, that explicit teaching and the use of phonics instruction are at the core of improving student outcomes.’

The centre’s inaugural director, Prof Rauno Parrila, also supported the announcement and stressed the importance of ensuring future and existing teachers had the skills needed to implement the new mandates.

‘We need to ensure that both the teachers of the future [and] current teachers receive high-quality training and ongoing professional learning underpinned by rigorous empirical research to achieve the positive student outcomes this announcement is aiming for,’ he said.

‘The best way to ensure reading instruction is evidence-based is to make sure there is sufficient expertise in every school to meet the daily challenges that come with the diverse student population schools serve.’

Banner image: a student at Sacred Heart Primary School participates in the Read to Learn program, a collaboration between the school and ACU.