Media release: Are speech pathologists a solution to solve the nation's poor literacy results? 

Poor NAPLAN results highlight the need for phonics instruction and more speech pathologists in schools

The release of Australia’s NAPLAN results this week shows that Australian children are falling behind in the classroom and once they fall behind, evidence shows they stay behind. The solution is a consistent evidenced -based approach to literacy instruction across Australian schools and more certified speech pathologists in schools.

Together with the need for more speech pathologists, schools need to adopt a systematic phonics-based approach to reading instruction as the standard in the critical early years of school , in line with the new Australian Curriculum. “Speech pathology intervention, particularly in the early and primary school years, is critical in addressing Australian children’s decline in literacy competency,” said Speech Pathology Australia President Kathryn McKinley.  

Speech pathologists have extensive training and expertise to support improved phonological awareness (including phonemic awareness) and how this relates to the teaching of phonics and literacy. Speech pathologists can work together with schools and educators who are seeking to improve their approaches to reading instruction. The evidence shows that around one in five children start school with a speech, language, or communication problem that impacts their ability to access the curriculum, participate , and achieve at school.

Language and literacy skills form the core building blocks of education, employment, social relationships and participation in our society.  “The evidence is clear; speech pathologists are crucial when working in multidisciplinary education teams, to achieve positive educational outcomes for all students, ” said Kathryn.

“While some children have diagnosed speech and language disorders, there are also many who may not yet have had this identified. Speech pathologists working together with teachers and schools adopting a systematic synthetic phonics approach to reading instruction shows a clear benefit to support all students. This can help us to stop the decline in literacy results . ”

How speech pathologists help 

Speech pathologists play an important role in enhancing the quality of children’s speech, language, communication, and swallowing/mealtime competencies so that they can participate successfully in the curriculum and the broader education environment. The available evidence indicates that speech pathology services positively impact the education and life trajectories of children with identified communication and swallowing/mealtime support needs.  

Media contact: Speech Pathology Australia, Communications and Marketing Manager, Rebecca Faltyn 0439 385 769, 1300 368 835, [email protected]

Speech Pathology Australia is the national peak body representing more than 14,500+ speech pathologists. The Association supports and regulates the ethical, clinical and professional standards of its members, as well as lobbying and advocating for access to services that benefit people with communication and swallowing difficulties.