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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 August 2019) . . Page.. 2839 ..

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

MADAM SPEAKER (Ms J Burch) took the chair at 10 am, made a formal recognition that the Assembly was meeting on the lands of the traditional custodians, and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Petitions—ministerial responses

The following responses to petitions have been lodged:

Students with learning difficulties—petition 13-19

By Ms Berry, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, dated Tuesday, 13 August 2019, in response to a petition lodged by Ms Lee on Thursday, 16 May 2019 concerning support for students with learning difficulties.

The response read as follows:




The ACT Government is strongly committed to meeting the learning needs of all students and giving children and young people the very best chance to reach their potential. This is clearly articulated in two key foundations of the Future of Education Strategy:

placing students at the centre; and

Empowering teachers, school leaders and other professionals to thrive in a career of learning which meets the needs of all students.

The topic of best practice support and interventions for students with learning difficulties is highly contested and divided. Extensive debate over many years has often centred on schools’ approaches to literacy instruction more broadly and is typically polarised around phonics instruction (the relationships between patterns of letters or graphemes and patterns of sound and phonemes). The debate in 2019 is not about phonics or no phonics in the teaching of reading and writing, but rather around the degree of emphasis of phonics in instruction and resources used to teach it. This has resulted in strong advocacy from stakeholders on both sides of the argument as evidenced by the current debate in relation to the Commonwealth Government’s proposal to introduce a national year one phonics screening check. In the ACT, the Education Directorate’s approach is to provide balanced literacy instruction to all students that recognises phonics as an essential component in building students’ literacy skills but allows schools to draw on a range of strategies to teach reading.

Despite this debate there is broad agreement on the elements required to support improved outcomes for students with learning difficulties. This includes high

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