MOST universities leave teachers without a vital tool to stop reading failures at schools, speech pathologist Alison Clarke will tell a Bendigo audience next week.
These 'black holes' in teacher courses help push parents with enough money to seek out speech pathologists, the past vice-president of Learning Difficulties Australia said.
"The children I am really concerned about are ones whose parents can't afford to get the help," she said.
Academics are divided on how best to formally introduce children to reading instruction.
The "reading wars" has a seen opinions split on teachers starting children off with lessons on the overall meaning and general appearance of words, as well as the individual sounds letters make.
In one broad camp are those with reservations about focusing too early on letters and the sounds they make. They are concerned that strategy does not give children a sense of words' meaning.
"But there are a proportion of children who, if they don't get that structure taught very systematically and explicitly, end up really struggling," Ms Clarke said.
"I'm a speech pathologist and I see these children in my clinic. I think 'wow, why weren't they taught about this in prep?' When we start doing it in grade two they are already two years behind."
A July report by group FIVE from FIVE found "urgent and dramatic" improvement is needed in undergraduate teaching courses.
Four per cent of subjects "provide evidence-based information on how children learn to read; and the most effective ways to teach them", the review of 116 units taught across 38 universities' initial education courses argued.
Thirteen of the lecturers and unit coordinators who could be identified had specific expertise in early reading instruction or literacy, the researchers found.
Six of the most commonly prescribed text books found none containing "sufficiently accurate and detailed content allowing graduate teachers to use effective, evidence-based methods", they said.
Ms Clarke will speak at a fully-booked event La Trobe University on Wednesday, which has been organised by Professor Pamela Snow from the Bendigo Early Language and Literacy Community of Practice.
"When teachers learn how to do this they are like 'whoa, that makes so much sense'," Ms Clarke said.
The strategies that would allow teachers and their schools to help more students who were falling behind, she said.
"There are really fun ways of starting with structure and quickly getting into the meaning - which is the end goal of reading," Ms Clark said.
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