Literacy – The Key to Success

Developing effective whole school approaches

The Tomlinson Centre
, Queensbridge Road, E8 3ND
Thursday 12 November 2015 9.15am – 4.00pm

Keynote speakers

  • Kevan Collins, Chief Executive, Education Endowment Foundation
  • Jonathan Douglas, Director, National Literacy Trust
  • Dr Jane Davis MBE, Founder and Director, The Reader Organisation
  • Mark Phillips, Senior HMI, Ofsted

Literacy and how it is addressed across the curriculum and in the wider community is critical for all schools. The skills of reading, writing and oracy enable students to flourish in school and also to prosper in life and a career.

The extent to which a school’s policy and practice ensures high standards in literacy for all pupils is rightly a key focus for Ofsted inspections. Knowledge about literacy and how to teach it is also a teaching competency and part of the teaching standards. Over the past 13 years, Hackney Learning Trust’s evidence-based pedagogies and resources for improving literacy have contributed to outstanding results both in school inspections and students’ learning outcomes at both primary and secondary levels.

The success of the HLT’s portfolio of literacy practice stems from sustained action learning in schools, where teachers have trialled new resources that have fostered innovation and learning. It has also evolved from strong partnerships with schools and stakeholders and an uncompromising attitude that all literacy gaps can be closed.

This conference was led by specialist practitioners from key stage 1 to 5 who have current and first-hand experience of what makes a difference in literacy provision in schools. The conference’s keynote speakers represent national charities and agencies that are campaigning to ensure that literacy stays at the top of the educational agenda.

Who attended?

This conference was designed for:

  • Headteachers
  • Deputy Headteachers
  • Assistant Headteachers
  • Heads of English
  • Local Authority Education Leaders
  • Literacy Co-ordinators

Objectives and opportunities

  • Review your strategic plans for literacy
  • Refresh and update current literacy practice
  • Learn about how an inner city London borough has tackled literacy gaps
  • Explore programmes that help to overcome literacy barriers
  • Find out how to help children to read accurately, with meaning and for pleasure
  • Question our expert speakers


8.30 – 9.15: Registration

9.15 – 9.25: Welcome

Anne Canning – Director of Education, Head of Hackney Learning Trust

9.25 – 9.40: Chair’s opening remarks

Mark Emmerson – Principal, City Academy, Hackney

9.40 – 10.20: Harnessing Evidence to Secure Professional Trust – Dr Kevan Collins, Chief Executive, Education Endowment Foundation

This keynote talk will focus on the ways that evidence can be used to close the attainment gap for children eligible for free school meals. Dr Kevan Collins will discuss the work of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and its support for literacy interventions. He will demonstrate his charity’s dedication to breaking the link between family income and attainment through the use of evidence. He will discuss the latest reports from the EEF and the ways in which research can be implemented by schools to improve attainment. He will show examples of best practice in recent literacy interventions and talk about the mentoring funding the EEF allocates to literacy along with the impact of digital technology on learning and literacy.

10.20 – 10.30: Questions and Discussions

10.30 – 11.00: Literate Communities – Jonathan Douglas, Director, National Literacy Trust

Literacy levels in the UK are closely associated with socio-economic status, and the identity and location of communities. They are also linked to children’s experience of the early home learning environment. Research has increasingly shown that the behaviours around literacy and pupils attitudes to reading and writing are significant as well as their skills. In this context the National Literacy Trust has developed a new approach to the literacy challenge. Built on ecological concepts of child development and on learning from international place-based children’s community models, the Trust has launched a network of Literacy Hubs in England. These Hubs bring concerted and coordinated early literacy support to communities where low literacy is intergenerational and strongly linked to issues of deprivation. This presentation will describe the analysis underpinning the model and the emerging evidence of its outcomes.

11.00 – 11.10: Questions and Discussions

11.10 – 11.30: Refreshment Break

11.30 – 12.30: Workshop session 1
Please see workshop tab

12.30 – 13.15: Lunch

13.15 – 14.15: Workshop session 2
Please see workshop tab

14.15 – 14.30: Refreshment Break

14.30 – 14.50: A World of Reading – Dr Jane Davis MBE, Founder and Director, The Reader Organisation

Jane Davis will introduce key learnings from the Liverpool City of Readers, a collaboration between Liverpool Learning Partnership (consisting of 136 primary schools, special schools, secondary schools and FE and HE institutions), Liverpool City Council and The Reader Organisation. The aim is to build a city-wide culture of reading, extending the whole school approach across our city. Working with national initiatives e.g. Troubled Families Programme and Early Language Acquisition, as well as within schools, with parents, through the NHS, community groups and culture activity, City of Readers is making reading a norm. Takeaways will include effective partnership building, involving commissioners and building aspiration among families and young people.

14.50 – 15.00: Questions and Discussions

15.00 – 15.20: Evidenced Best Practice for Improving Literacy – an Ofsted Perspective – Mark Phillips, Senior HMI, Ofsted

This session will focus on evidence taken from Ofsted themed reports over the last five years drawing from school and settings based practice from early years to secondary on what works in improving attainment in literacy. It will also explore the ways that barriers to improving literacy have been overcome. This will include strategies for improving boy’s literacy and the key ingredients for a successful whole school approach to literacy. The main expectations for literacy set out in the new Ofsted framework will also be outlined, as they are being inspected for the first term this autumn. This will include learning from the pilot inspections during 2014-15.

15.20 – 15.30: Questions and Discussions

15.30 – 16.00: Q&A practitioner panel discussion
Led by Sue Jones, Advisor: Children and Young People, The Reading Agency. Panel members to include Mark Phillips, Ofsted and secondary and primary literacy leads.

16.00: Closing remarks and close of conference

Download the full conference programme.

Booking workshops

Delegates will have the opportunity to book onto two workshops of their choice. One for the 11.30pm session and one for the 13.15pm session.

Workshop 1 – Developing Early Literacy – An Holistic Approach

This engaging workshop will review the work undertaken in Hackney to enhance literacy development in the EYFS. This will include an overview of the work of the REAL programme (Raising Early Achievement in Literacy) which has focussed on family engagement and partnership working to raise outcomes for targeted groups. In addition the Speech and Language team will share a range of language based interventions which they have used with great success to enhance early literacy. Both strategies have been effective in Hackney in closing the outcomes gap between the EYFS and Key Stage 1. Participants will be able to:

  • Explore effective classroom strategies for developing language and communication
  • Develop a more holistic way of thinking about the teaching of language and literacy
  • Review the evidence base for what works in developing early literacy

Run by Annabelle Burns, Speech and Language Therapy Service Manager, Children’s Integrated Speech and Language Therapy Service for Hackney and the City, and Vanessa Jones, Lead Children’s Centre Teacher, HLT/Ann Taylor Children Centre.

*Fully Subscribed Workshop 2 – Using Metacognition to Accelerate Progression in Literacy

In this practical workshop, you will learn how to unlock your pupils’ reading, writing and learning potential by teaching ‘think aloud’ strategies that are proven to benefit the lowest pupils and their higher level counterparts. Teach your pupils to read, write, think and learn independently through the four Reciprocal Teaching Skills of predicting, clarifying, questioning and summarising. Enable your pupils to become skilled and fluent writers with the ‘I do, we do, you do’ method for writing. The methodologies are based on the success of Hackney Learning Trust’s LIT Programme, which is currently being delivered in over 250 schools across the UK. Pupils who enter Secondary school at below level 4C can expect to gain a C or more at GCSE using the techniques outlined in this workshop.

Participants will be able to:

  • Identify evidenced methodologies that will benefit all students but particularly the lowest attaining
  • Explore practical literacy tools for building independent learning, thinking, reading and writing skills
  • Examine take-home approaches for whole school literacy and learning

Run by Elina Lam, LIT Programme Manager, Hackney Learning Trust.

Workshop 3 – How can I know what I think until I see what I say?” Developing confident users of academic English at KS5 and beyond

How do students develop into confident users of formal, academic English? Many struggle with the level required for AS/A level. And we all know that A/A* students are those that find a mature, independent voice in their writing. Confidence in this area is crucial for success not only at AS/A level but at university and at work.
Last year three schools in Hackney used one to one tuition to develop academic literacy in selected students. This workshop will draw on that experience to discuss how academic literacy can best be developed through tuition, through teaching and learning strategies in the classroom and through the culture of the school or college.

Run by Melissa Marsh, Consultant for Hackney Learning Trust, formerly International Baccalaureate Coordinator at City and Islington College.

Workshop 4 – Reading with understanding at Key Stage 2; Meeting the challenges of the national curriculum

The new National Curriculum has given schools increased accountability around ‘reading for pleasure’ and higher level reading skills such as using inference. In order to ensure their teachers are meeting this challenge, school leaders need to make significant changes to their approach to the teaching and assessment of reading. These changes may include:

  • Making changes to the organisation of a reading lesson
  • A focus on dialogue
  • A focus on independent learning

This workshop will support you to review how you have implemented the requirements of the new National Curriculum, preparing children for the increased expectations in reading assessments at the end of each key stage, whilst giving ideas on how to increase the numbers of children ‘reading for pleasure.’

Run by Kathleen O’Connor, Literacy Consultant, Hackney Learning Trust.

Workshop 5 – Developing whole school literacy strategies in secondary schools

In response to Ofsted’s current framework, which incorporates aspects of literacy in all of the key judgements, Hackney Learning Trust have developed a practical framework for enhancing whole school literacy provision. This framework has been developed over the last year in two local secondary schools: Cardinal Pole Catholic School and Skinners’ Academy. The workshop will focus on the journey of the literacy leads who galvanised their work colleagues and implemented exciting strategies for teaching reading, writing and speaking and listening to students of all abilities.

Key areas of the workshop include:

  • Methods for reviewing and auditing current literacy provision
  • Effective strategies for boosting literacy across the curriculum
  • Empowering young people to feel more confident about reading and writing
  • Measuring impact of literacy across the curriculum

Run by Sophie Holdforth, Senior English Teaching and Learning Consultant, Hackney Learning Trust.

Workshop 6 – Daily Supported Reading – Developing effective lifelong readers

This highly effective programme, created by Hackney teachers, has been designed to extend children’s independent thinking and understanding during daily group reading sessions in KS1. It also develops the skills of adult group leaders, who learn to respond flexibly to children at different stages of reading independence. This is a programme where adult and child development are closely aligned.

In this workshop we will address some of the key principles that are central to the Daily Supported Reading programme (DSR), and provide you with an opportunity to recalibrate some of your own core beliefs.

  • Can we teach children to think high while reading low?
  • Can we ensure early independent access to ideas encoded in print?
  • What is teaching for independence?
  • How can we enable adults to gauge each child’s level of understanding?

Run by Richard Boxall, DSR Programme Manager and Teaching and Learning Consultant, Hackney Learning Trust.

Kevan Collins, Chief Executive, Education Endowment Foundation

Kevan has worked in public service for over twenty-five years and became the first EEF Chief Executive in October 2011, having previously been Chief Executive in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Prior to this role he led a distinguished career in education – starting off as a primary school teacher, leading the Primary Literacy Strategy as National Director, and then serving as Director of Children’s Services at Tower Hamlets. Kevan also gained international experience working in Mozambique and supporting the development of a national literacy initiative in the USA. He completed his doctorate focusing on literacy development at Leeds University in 2005.

Jonathan Douglas, Director, National Literacy Trust

Jonathan Douglas is Director of the National Literacy Trust – the independent charity committed to raising literacy levels in the UK’s most deprived communities. Jonathan joined the Trust in 2007. He has developed the strategy for the 2008 National Year of Reading generating 2.5million new public library members, formed the All Party Parliamentary Literacy Group, expanded the National Literacy Trust schools’ programme to include 7,000 schools and engaged a wide range of businesses (including the Premier League, McDonald’s and KPMG) in the campaign for UK literacy. He is currently developing a UK Brazil partnership reading programme as part of the Olympic Legacy.

He was previously Head of Policy Development at the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. Before that he was Professional Adviser for Youth and School Libraries at the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. Jonathan has also worked as a librarian and Children’s Services Team Leader in Westminster Libraries.

Jonathan is on the Advisory Committee of the Man Booker Prize. He is Chair of the Expert Subject Advisory Group for English in the new national curriculum. He was a member of the Expert Panel for The Children’s Plan and the Advisory Committee of Every Child a Reader. Jonathan is a Non Executive Director of the Money Advice Service, the independent service set up by Government to help people manage their money. He is Chair of Governors of St William of York Primary School in Lewisham. In 2014 Jonathan was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Oxford Brookes University.

Dr Jane Davis MBE, Founder and Director, The Reader Organisation

Dr Jane Davis is the Founder and Director of The Reader Organisation. As well as leading on the organisation’s development and vision, Jane still finds time to do what she loves best – sharing reading with others. On Friday mornings she leads a group at Calderstones Mansion House, Liverpool, the Reader’s new head office and where the organisation is building the international Centre for Reading. In 2011 she was elected as the UK’s 20th Ashoka Fellow, an honour which marks her entrepreneurial vision. Jane has been teaching the reading and sharing of literature for over thirty years and was recently appointed as Director of Liverpool, City of Readers by the Liverpool Learning Partnership. This large scale project is intended to make Liverpool the UK’s foremost city for reading.  Jane’s favourite author is George Eliot. Jane has also received and MBE for her services to reading.

Mark Phillips, Senior HMI, Ofsted

Mark Phillips is an HMI. He taught in schools for over 20 years, including as an advanced skills teacher where he taught across Key Stages 1-5. He also held leadership roles in local authorities and taught for an initial teacher education course before being appointed HMI in 2006. Mark has extensive experience of leading Section 5 inspections and of monitoring schools causing concern.

Sue Jones OBE, Advisor: Children and Young People, The Reading Agency

Sue is a qualified librarian and until April 2009 she was Head of Young People, Schools & Equalities for Hertfordshire Libraries. During her career with Hertfordshire she worked as a Public Library Children’s Librarian and as a Secondary School Librarian before joining the Schools Library Service. She is an ex-Chair of ASCEL (Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians), a national body which advises both government and local authorities on strategic initiatives for the development of services for children and young people.

Sue was awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire) in the 2009 New Years Honours List in recognition of her library work with children and young people.

Here’s what our attendees thought about the conference:

“Excellent day – I heard several other people talking about the professionalism of the event.”

“A very useful and informative day which was excellent value for money. Thank you.”

“Absolutely brilliant day – I’ve got lots of ideas to take back to Nottingham.”

“This was an inspiring look at literacy that reinstates my commitment to helping young people to become as literate as humanly possible…and I was very enthused already. Thank you.”