Better training of teachers on the job and at university is critical to improving reading levels in the classroom, a gathering of educators and parents heard in Wodonga this week.
More than 30 participants from the Border, Corryong, Benalla, Wangaratta and as far afield as Sydney and Malaysia undertook the first Multisensory Structured Language (MSL) associate course in regional Victoria
The five-day course is designed to show teachers, therapists and parents how they can better teach children to read and spell using a systematic phonics approach.
Hosted by St Augustine’s Primary School, its learning diversity leader Luci Palmer said it was exciting to see so many schools represented at the course.
“During the past 18 months we have looked closely at our students’ literacy needs and the right model to support every child,” Ms Palmer said.
“We did a lot of consultation and research and decided MSL was the best direction to ensure the supports were in place from day one to give all kids the best opportunity to learn.”
Ms Palmer said it was important to recognise the partnership between parents and schools in supporting children’s learning needs.
“Schools can’t do it all but at the same time teachers aren’t educated in this and want to upskill.”
Course facilitator Kate Finnie said MSL was a proven approach to tackling reading difficulties and its reputation was growing as parents became more knowledgable.
She said its name was also bolstered by the work of Dyslexia Association Australia and the local and Victorian dyslexia support groups.
However she said teachers needed better training in university and on the job to make a difference to literacy levels.
October is Dyslexia Awareness Month and statistics show one in five students have learning-based difficulties including dyslexia.
In a class of 30, that’s six children, Ms Finnie stated.
“In my practice I see children I wouldn’t normally need to see if they were getting the right form of teaching,” she said.