As the COVID-19 pandemic takes its toll on literacy rates across the country, teachers have flocked to a school in Camperdown to find a possible solution.
Fourteen representatives from four Victorian schools attended one of two open days at Camperdown College's Brooke Street Campus to learn about its nation-leading phonics program.
The college is one of just two accredited trainer schools in Australia and is viewed in the region as best-practice when it comes to teaching children how to read and write. In 2022, 44 per cent of year five students were in the top two bands for reading, putting it ahead of other similar schools by 11 per cent.
Meanwhile, the percentage of students in the bottom two bands for writing had also reduced by more than half in the past five years, from 32 per cent in 2017 to just 13 per cent in 2022.
Junior campus assistant principal Jacinta Tolland said the pleasing results came down to two passionate teachers who began implementing the Sounds Write program in 2017.
"We have quite a low social economic population here, probably around half of our families are in the bottom quartile," she said.
"They are really wanting to make sure our practice makes a difference."
Principal Xavier Davis said the school had achieved just that.
"It's pretty exciting," he said.
"It's good to be one of the leader schools as the data suggests. The school was a pilot school about six years ago, that's why we're a bit ahead of the game.
"I find in the mornings, you hear the hum of the Sounds Write phonics happening in the classroom. The routine is set pretty well for students.
"They all work on their phonics, they all feed back to the teacher, the teacher's able to correct any misconceptions from the kids and that happens every single morning.
"It happens right up to grade six."
It comes as an early exposure to reading was flagged by south-west educators as a key approach to tackling a dip in reading skills, especially among male teens.
NAPLAN results from last year showed the percentage of year nine boys unable to reach the national reading minimum standard had gone up to 13.5 per cent from 8.5 per cent in 2008.
The school was a pilot school about six years ago, that's why we're a bit ahead of the game.- Xavier Davis
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