Unlocking Literacy: Embracing the Reading Revolt

In a world where we are surrounded with an abundance of information every single day, the ability to read proficiently has never been more important. So as a passionate advocate of literacy working in schools, it really is disheartening to hear that 1 in 3 of our students are failing to learn how to read proficiently. But when we take a closer look and still find old teaching practises such as ‘whole language methods’ still being implemented, this statistic should not come as a surprise (Grattan Institute report, 2024).

For a lot of us, we don’t actually remember how we learnt to read, we just did. However, not all readers are equal, and for some, the journey towards reading fluency can be fraught with challenges- these children need more. They need to be taught using tried-and-true methods grounded in research and evidence. 

In pleasing news, the current landscape of teaching children how to read is changing and taking a step in the right direction. In 2023, there was a reform in the NSW curriculum with a spotlight on literacy shifting to a more phonic-based approach (NSW Education Standards Authority, 2024). Since then, there has been a rise in lots of buzz words such as ‘Science of reading’, ‘Explicit instruction and teaching practices’, ‘Structured literacy’ – and simultaneously, a rise in reading programs that seem to claim they do it all. This has left educators feeling overwhelmed and understandably so, with many questions around knowing which program is ‘best’. 

Working as a Speech Therapist in schools, I too found myself in the same predicament. I was frequently approached by teachers asking for support with their students who were struggling to read. Some of these students were about to leave primary school and were still reading at a Grade 1 level. With a background in Speech Pathology, I knew I needed something that was highly structured and rooted in evidence. Fast forward a few years and I now find myself also as a qualified Sound-Write Linguistics Phonics trainer. 

So what is Sounds-Write? Sounds-Write is an explicit synthetic linguistic phonics program that provides a systematic and structured approach to the teaching of reading and writing. That was a bit of a mouthful- but to break it down; Sounds-Write teaches the relationship between sounds and their corresponding spellings. It also focuses on the conceptual knowledge students need to become proficient readers and teaches the essentials skills of learning to read i.e. segmenting blending and phoneme manipulation (sounds-write.co.uk for more). It aligns to the Science of reading (SOR) which is a comprehensive framework rooted in interdisciplinary research. SOR seeks to understand the cognitive processes involved in how individuals learn to read and comprehend written language (Educational Research Summaries, 2023). The core principles of the Science of Reading emphasises the importance of phonics and the need for systematic and explicit instruction. All of which are foundational components of the Sounds-Write instruction.

I will never forget the sparkle in the eyes of the student who was struggling to read for years, finally be able to read a whole book all on their own- and it was thanks to Sounds-Write. I have also worked with students being taught a different reading program at school, aligning the content they were learning in class with the Sounds-Write program. The proof is in the pudding when teachers approach me and say that that student who was at ‘the bottom of the class’ is now surpassing other students in their class. It’s getting first-hand moments of success like these that really helps me hold on to hope for these students.

By leveraging the insights of cognitive science through the Science of Reading and the systematic and structured approach of Sounds-Write, educators can empower students to ultimately become proficient readers and writers. As we continue to refine our understanding of literacy acquisition, let us embrace evidence-based practices that enable all learners to unlock the transformative power of literacy and prevent them from becoming just another statistic. 


Educational Research Summaries. (2023). Introduction to the science of reading. Retrieved from https://www.edresearch.edu.au/summaries-explainers/explainers/introduction-science-reading

Grattan Institute. (2024). Australia needs a reading revolution. Retrieved from https://grattan.edu.au/australia-needs-a-reading-revolution/

NSW Education Standards Authority. (2024). Retrieved from https://curriculum.nsw.edu.au/