Grattan Institute’s Report – Reading Abilities in WA 

As advocates for a quality education no matter where a child lives in Western Australia, the Fogarty Foundation acknowledges that Australia has a literacy crisis. Given the importance of ensuring every child has the essential skills for success, we recognise the imperative of transforming the way reading is taught in our schools. The recent findings from the Grattan Institute’s report on reading abilities serve as a call for action, reaffirming the need for systemic reform that utilises evidence-based interventions. 

At the heart of Australia’s reading problem lies a decades-long debate over pedagogical approaches to teaching reading. The Foundation believes that the time for debate is over. The evidence is clear: the ‘whole-language’ approach, with its reliance on the notion that reading is a natural, unconscious process, falls short of meeting the diverse learning needs of our students. 

Instead, we advocate for the widespread adoption of the ‘structured literacy’ approach throughout our education system. Grounded in research and proven effectiveness, structured literacy places a strong emphasis on phonics instruction, decoding skills, and phonemic awareness. By equipping students with the foundational skills to sound out words and decode meaning, structured literacy lays the groundwork for reading success. 

However, it is also key to recognise that structured literacy is not merely about phonics; it encompasses a holistic approach to reading instruction. It emphasises vocabulary development, comprehension strategies, and fluency practice, fostering understanding of texts and nurturing a lifelong love for reading. This comprehensive approach ensures that students not only read proficiently but also engage critically with diverse texts across various disciplines. 

Grattan argues that, central to its vision for a reading revolution, is the establishment of a ‘Reading Guarantee’ – a six-step commitment to achieving reading proficiency for all Australian students: 

  1. Pledge that at least 90 per cent of Australian students will become proficient readers, setting ambitious yet achievable targets for educational excellence. 
  1. Provide educators with clear guidelines on evidence-based reading instruction, ensuring consistency and effectiveness in teaching practices. 
  1. Equip schools with high-quality curriculum materials and assessments, empowering teachers with the tools they need to deliver effective reading instruction. 
  1. Implement universal screening of students’ reading skills and provide targeted support for those in need, ensuring no child falls through the cracks. 
  1. Invest in teacher professional development and appoint Literacy Instructional Specialists in schools, building educators’ capacity to deliver high-quality reading instruction. 
  1. Mandate a nationally consistent Year 1 Phonics Screening Check and hold schools accountable for their performance in teaching students to read, driving continuous improvement in literacy outcomes. 

By implementing evidence-based reading instruction and committing to the Reading Guarantee, significant positive change can be achieved that will benefit generations to come. The Fogarty Foundation supports the findings of the Grattan Institute and welcome the level of public interest in the growing challenge facing our schools and the education sector. 

Let’s use this momentum to drive reform, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to unlock their potential through high quality, evidence-based, literacy instruction in West Australia’s schools. 

The celebratory breakfast hosted by UWA and the Fogarty Foundation on 27 September champions all that has been achieved since the formation of the UWA Fogarty Scholarship Program in 2003. 

A recording of the breakfast celebration is available here.

20 years ago, history was made with the commencement of a partnership between the Fogarty Foundation and the University of Western Australia to establish an elite scholarship program for high achieving young Western Australians; the first ever undergraduate scholarship of its kind in Australia.  Fast-forward to September 2023 and we are delighted to be celebrating our current scholars, our alumni and our colleagues at UWA.  

The celebratory event to mark 20 years of partnership as part of the Scholarship program championed all that has been achieved since its formation in 2003.   Dr Annie Fogarty’s speech at the Breakfast gave the opportunity to reflect on the vast achievements of the Fogarty Foundation Scholars and alumni, which includes several global projects, initiatives, and partnerships.

‘These scholarships are built on the foundatiOn of excellence ANNIE Fogarty, 2023

Attendees enjoyed hearing from keynote speaker Rob Scott, Managing Director and CEO of Wesfarmers, reflecting on the importance of a lifelong love for learning, something which drives his passion to continue to grow and achieve.

This celebration was an opportunity for scholars, alumni, staff, and relevant professionals to reflect on the Fogarty Foundation Scholar programme; as well as look forward to further projects, initiatives and collaborations which may grow within this ever-expanding network of notable individuals.  A quality seen in all our Scholars and alumni is the passion and drive to excel in their field and make a contribution to society. As the leaders of today – and tomorrow – we look forward to seeing the increasing impact they will make.  

This celebration exemplifies the drive by the Fogarty Foundation to drive sustainable change by helping create a brighter future through education, leadership and raising aspirations.   

We are grateful to the University of Western Australia for being such a wonderful partner over these two decades and congratulate all our Scholars, past and present, for their efforts and achievements.  As the Foundation’s logo suggests, the change we ignite is a ripple, starting with the youth of today and continuing through strong leadership for tomorrow. 

The UWA Fogarty Scholars Program has produced an impressive roster of alumni who are leaders in their fields. From doctors and engineers to entrepreneurs and educators, these scholars are making waves and driving positive change worldwide. Their accomplishments stand as a testament to the power of education, leadership, and community engagement.

We hope you made some new connections at our celebratory breakfast. Stay in touch with us through Facebook, LinkedIn and X; and you can also find all our amazing young leaders through our NEW scholar’s database. Please also enjoy our two latest films, one that promotes our Scholarship program and another that provides some insights into the paths of our alumni, which features six of our Scholars who are now living and working elsewhere in the world. Below is a photo gallery from the celebration breakfast.

Life’s Lottery:  Backing Kids is a new series of the Paul Ramsay Foundation’s podcast where experts, young people, advocates and policymakers discuss how we can improve wellbeing by putting children at the centre of government policy and budgets. 

The podcast was highlighted in an article in The Australian on Wednesday 30 March 2022.  Authors Anne Holland National Children’s Commissioner and Glyn Davis Chief Executive of the Paul Ramsay Foundation said that, “children’s voices often go unheard in decisions that greatly affect them.”

As an Ambassador for Children and Young People in WA, I agree that we need to change the way we make our policies: For each policy that is discussed, consideration needs to be made in how children will be affected by these policies and decisions. 

Annie Fogarty AM

Jacqueline McGowan-Jones has recently been appointed as the new Commissioner for Children and Young People WA.  The Commission works closely with children and young people, their families, communities and government to make WA a better place for 0 to 17-year-olds.  As well as advocating for children’s rights, they have a range of resources and projects including the ‘Speaking Out Survey’ which last year spoke with more than 16,500 children and young people from all regions of WA who shared their experiences and views on safety, mental health, engagement in education, connection to community and how they access sources of support – 

Annie Fogarty has been announced as the 2020 West Australian of the Year for her exceptional work in education advocacy.

Annie founded the Fogarty Foundation in 2000 to help advance education, support young people to reach their full potential and build stronger communities.

Under Annie’s leadership, the Foundation identifies areas of need, supports partner organisations with philanthropic funds, connections and knowledge, and develops initiatives that deliver educational opportunities, inspire community leadership and enrich lives.

Mrs Fogarty is also involved with several boards and committees to help foster innovation and creativity in young people, and is committed to ensuring excellent education and learning for all.

Each year, the Australian of the Year awards celebrate the achievements and contributions of eminent Australians by profiling leading citizens who are role models for us all.

Also receiving the prestigious award are fellow West Australians Professor John Newnham AM, a world-leading authority in modern obstetrics; Yarlalu Thomas, a medical student and Precision Public Health Fellow in genetic and rare diseases; and science educator (and Fogarty EDfutures Catalyst) Suzy Urbaniak.

Annie will join award recipients from all over Australia for the national awards ceremony at the National Arboretum in Canberra on 25 January 2020 – the 60th anniversary of the awards.

Congratulations Annie!!

How can we get the best education for our children? How can schools better support students to provide an environment that allows them to flourish, regardless of family, wealth and social disadvantage?

In this talk, Annie notes the essential role that education plays in society. She also argues that schools should function as a community hub whose role extends beyond simply teaching, as well as providing practical tips on how we all can get involved in improving our education system.

Watch Annie Fogarty’s TEDx talk in full here: Let’s create the educational village