The Australian Government is investing $10.8 million for the development of a free, voluntary phonics health check for Year 1 students. This includes an online Literacy Hub with resources to support children to develop their literacy skills, including a free Phonics Check for teachers to administer with their Year 1 students and online professional learning and resources for teachers and school leaders. For families there is a phonics and a reading awareness check to do at home along with lots of other resources.
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While phonics is just one part of learning to read, alongside phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension, studies  have shown phonics to be the most effective way of teaching children to read words accurately and fluently. Understanding how the sounds in spoken words are written in text is critical to being able to read and to spell words.
Phonics is about understanding the written letter and sound relationships. It involves teaching children the sounds made by individual letters or letter groups, and how to blend these from left to right to make words. Phonics is an effective way to teach children to read and learning to read establishes vital foundational skills for a student’s academic success.
The free teacher administered online Phonics Check is a quick and easy way for teachers to be able to check the phonics knowledge of their Year 1 students at school. This Check will help the teacher to identify how well the children can ‘decode' written words by listening to how the child sounds out the letter and letter groups and blends these sounds together from left to right to make a word.
The Phonics Check for teachers is designed to help teachers identify students who may need more help in learning to read. This is important to ensure targeted learning can be in place before the achievement gap widens. Teachers will have access to quality assured teaching and learning resources to equip them to act on assessment findings and help children learn to read.
Along with a range of activities to support reading development in the home, families will also have access to a phonics and a reading awareness check. This will help families to engage with their child’s classroom teacher, who is best placed to advise families how to support the development of literacy skills at home.
The Literacy Hub is a free online portal for teachers, school leaders and families. The Hub includes information on how students learn to read, and tailored resources for schools, teachers and families to support literacy development. These resources complement the checks.
The Literacy Hub with the phonics and the reading awareness check, and teacher administered Phonics Check can be accessed at the Literacy Hub website.
 Rose, J. 2006. Independent review of the teaching of early reading. Bristol: Department for Education and Skills