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Episode 4: Dyslexia advocacy, with Dr Sandra Marshall

In this episode, we talk to Dr Sandra Marshall, BMBS FRACGP Dip Child Health, a General Practitioner in South Australia and Chairperson of Code Read Dyslexia Network. Sandra shares her insights for parents and teachers on advocating for kids living with learning difficulties.

Watch episode 4 on YouTube

Show notes

Dr Sandra Marshall realized that there was a problem with how reading is taught in Australia when her own sons started to struggle in primary school. After trying to get help for her sons, Sandra found perhaps her most important calling and knew that the journey ahead wouldn’t only mean advocating for her own boys but for kids and their parents all over Australia who were on the same journey. Sandra, a GP by day, donned her superhero cape, and by night became (at least in our opinion) the most influential figure in dyslexia and evidence-based teaching of reading advocacy in Australia.

With unerring humility, patience and grit, Sandra and her muse and mentor, ex-principal Ophie Renner, rallied the troops – parents, teachers, principals, specialists in the area of reading (and the odd politician along the way) and set out on a remarkable journey.

Fast forward a decade and a bit, and there has been a tectonic shift in how we teach reading in Australia. The earth shook when South Australia implemented the Phonics Screening Check (PSC), despite opposition from all of the expected places, but also from some surprising corners! The good doctor and her band of merry followers were instrumental in this, and now, South Australia is considered worldwide to be a leading light in the adoption of evidence-based teaching of literacy.

In this interview, Michael and Bill talk with Sandra about the road behind, the long road ahead and importantly, how Sandra has been so incredibly successful at getting people on board and keeping them on board. Sandra has the special sauce in working with people to make change and has much to teach us all about how we can successfully advocate for our own children and also other vulnerable kids living with the Ds.

Links from Episode

Code Read

Sandra is the Chair of Code Read – see the links below

Code Read is reliant on continued fundraising to operate. Please register for the 2022 Equal Right to Read Virtual Run to support Sandra and others to continue advocating.

So many parents don’t know where to go, and as Sandra says, there’s plenty of snake oil out there. This webpage gives guidance on where to go to get help:

or for incredible resources, go to:

If you are in SA, you can also go to, or if you are looking for a specialist tutor/teacher, you can find one at

David Pescud’s ABC’ Conversations’ Interview

David’s was the impetus behind the formation of Code Read and financially backed the formation of this national body (as long as Sandra agreed to be the Chairperson!) David is interviewed by the amazing Richard Fielder on ABC’s ‘Conversations.’

South Australian Evidence-Based Teaching of Literacy Study Tour:

Salisbury Primary School

Sandra discusses the need for teachers to be able to go into other schools doing great things in the teaching literacy space. We do something like this, and we’re pretty good at it! Email Bill to express interest in this professional learning opportunity.

A shout to everyone involved over the journey – all DAGBAGS, Dyslexia SA, Code Read, DAGBAGS/Dyslexia SA members/admins/and helpers along the way:

Adrian Borg
Adrienne Adams
Alex Ward
Alexander Edmondson
Alison Clarke
Allison Quinlan
Allyson Dutshke
Amelia Jones
Amelia Matlock
Amy Bunder
Amy Smith
Andrew McPhail
Andrew McPhail
Angela Weeks
Anita Hellevik
Anna Bampton
Anne Bampton
Anne George
Annette Brock
Belinda Dekker
Belinda Pringle
Ben Spry
Bill Hansberry
Bindee Davis
Brett McKay
Brittany James
Caroline Merritt
Cat Rodie
Cathy Harrison
Chantal Denier
Cherie Collings
Christopher Pyne
Claire Morrison
Colleen Stevens
David Gyngell
David O’Loughlin
David Pescud
David Pescud
David Pitt
Deb Fairey
Deb Sandars
Debbie McDonald
Denese Carberry
Denis Donovan
Denise Sawyer
Donna Willett
Dr Bartek Rajkowski
Dr Jennifer Buckingham
Dr Judy Gould
Dr Kerry Hempenstall
Dr Kevin Wheldall
Dr Lorraine Hammond
Dr Marie Gould
Dr Tanya Serry
Duncan Pixley
Eleanor Gardner
Elise Cassidy
Eliza Bampton
Estelle Chapple
Felicity Clarke

Fiona Brady
Gail Darby
Georgina Perry
Harriet Fitzgerald
Heidi Gregory
Isabelle Duquennois
Jackie French
James Magnoson
James Peterkin
Jan Done
Jane Rajkowski
Janice James- Valentine
Janice McPhail
Janice Ritchie
Jasmine Cunningham
Jen Cross OAM
Jeni Ferris
Jo Bakker
Jo Hirst
Jocelyn Seamer
Jodie Clements
Jody Leonie
Johanna Ramsay
John Gardner MP
John Ide
John Skelly
Jonathan Kerr
Jordan Steffens
Josh Newnes
Jude Hudson
Jules Stone
Julie Hermansen
Julie Mavlian
Karen Hodson
Karen McKenzie
Kate Bertoncello
Kate Marschall
Katherine Bruggeman
Kathryn Krieg
Katie Spry
Kay Bosworth
Kelly King
Kerrie Dellar
Kerry Williams
Kylie Budarick
Kylie Fotheringham
Kylie Halford
Kym Reynolds
Lana Grundy
Lance Hatcher
Laura Law
Lauren Poole
Leanne James
Lyn Martin
Lyn Stone
Maree Evans
Margaret Ryan
Mark Le Messurier
Mascia Paradiso
Mel Whiting

Melanie Eglington-Higgins
Melanie Wells
Melinda Firth
Melissah Ernesti
Natalie Campbell
Natalie Nolan
Neil McKay
Nick Champion MP
Nicola Rathman
Ophie Renner
Patricia Dent
Paul Bennett
Paula Montroy
Penne Dawe
Pete Aston
Phil Paradiso
Phil Parker
Prof Anne Castles
Professor Pam Snow
Rachel Forbes
Rachel Shephard
Richard Billson
Robert Klose
Robert Smedley
Rosalie Martin
Roslyn Conboy
Samantha Shellard
Sandra Tidswell
Sandra Tidswell
Sandy Mamerow
Sandy Russo
Sarah Antoney
Sarah Asome
Sarah Wormald
Scott Bryant
Sharon Holmes
Sharon Wright
Simon Birmingham MP
Stacey Bradtke
Stephanie Le Fievre
Stephanie Mallen
Sue de Biasi
Sue Teusner
Susan Close MP
Susan Milner
Suzy Barlow
Tanya Forbes
Timothy Mackie
Tom Fotheringham
Tony Piccolo MP
Tracey Bradley
Tracy McInerney
Tracy Wilson
Tricia Gardner
Trudie Symonds
Vanessa O’Brien
Victoria Leslie
Viv Wright
Will McIntosh



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