Our conference inspired delegates with lots of ideas to help ‘Close the Literacy Gap’

Reading Leaders and their partners from Bowling Park Primary School with the books they chose as a reward for speaking at the conference

Our conference on the 29th of June 2017 addressed the issue of ‘Closing the Literacy Gap’ and how to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve the same as their more fortunate peers.

The conference was held at Bradford City Football Stadium and brought together literacy experts and academics to share their ideas with teachers and other education professionals dedicated to helping children achieve their potential.

Popular children’s authors, Tom Palmer and Andy Seed both presented at the packed conference sharing ideas on how to make reading more accessible for all children and the role that authors can play in igniting a love of reading.

The keynote speech was delivered by Bradford-born Matt Bromley, a leading education writer and consultant who was able to raise his aspirations, do well academically and exceed others’ expectations by becoming an avid reader. A similar story was reiterated by both Tom Palmer and Andy Seed.

Matt spoke of the importance of reading for pleasure on social mobility and how the “word rich” will inevitably become more affluent and the “word poor” more impoverished. He implored teachers and parents, who have the “superpower” of being literate, to pass it on and stressed the value of parents reading at home.

The highlight of the day was when children from two Bradford schools – Dixon’s Kings Academy and Bowling Park Primary School spoke to the enthralled delegates about how, with Reading Leaders training from Reading Matters, they had worked in partnership with younger children at school to improve their confidence and reading skills.

The other expert speakers were Dr Paula Clarke of The University of Leeds who shared strategies for teaching language comprehension to support those that struggle, Deborah Bullivant of the Grimm and Co social enterprise in Rotherham that uses a magical apothecary shop as the inspiration for creative writing and Rachel Van Riel who shared tips on how to make library spaces for children as attractive and accessible as possible.

Workshops on the day covered topics relevant to ‘Closing the Literacy Gap’ including the best ways to support those with English as an additional language and using comics to enhance learning.

Over 150 people attended the conference, with some travelling from as far as London and delegate feedback included “A fantastic event – the speakers were interesting and the networking and exhibitors very informative” and “A really useful and enjoyable event”. There were lots of key organisations exhibiting including Oxford University Press, Jolly Learning and First News and an expansive and fabulously colourful bookshop was provided by the school book specialists Madeleine Lindley.

Speakers Tom Palmer, Andy Seed and Matt Bromley with Rachel Kelly and Amy Mortimer of Reading Matters

The speakers and workshop providers who had PowerPoint presentations have kindly agreed to let us share them. Please click on the links below:

Award-winning author Andy Seed: The power of author inspiration 

Deborah Bullivant, Director of Grimm & Co: Unleashing imagination and changing lives one story at a time

Dr Paula Clarke of the University of Leeds: Shifting the lens from decoding to language comprehension: Evidence based methods to support pupils understanding of text

Rachel Van Riel of Opening the Book: Making space for reading – how to improve your physical environment to increase reader engagement

Education Consultant and Writer Matt Bromley: Closing the literacy gap



Workshop A: Tom Palmer and Jane Walker of Barrington StokeRemoving barriers to reading

Workshop B: Alan Heath of Learning Solutions: Improving reading from the bottom up

Workshop C: Marj Newbury: Back to basics; how to lay strong phonics foundations and help struggling readers of any age

Workshop 1: Oksana Afitska, The University of Sheffield: Supporting bilingual and multilingual learners in mainstream schools


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