• Hands up at conference

Edge Hill tackles drop in literacy in schools

Edge Hill University hosted an insightful literacy and phonics conference to give its education students and teachers from partner schools practical skills to tackle the post-pandemic drop in literacy in schools. 

The day featured a range of speakers, workshops, and discussions on the journeys and experiences of schools teaching literacy and phonics. 

The keynote talk was from literacy expert Alex Quigley, author of books Closing the Reading Gap, Closing the Writing Gap, and The Confident Teacher.  

He shared practical skills that the attendees can use to confidently boost pupils’ reading skills and build their motivation for reading. 

Alex Quigley said: “When it comes to literacy, I think there is no more important topic for teachers.  

“For pupils being able to read fluently is foundational for education, as it affects every single aspect of learning, from reading maths questions and exam questions to reading for pleasure at home. 

“Post-pandemic there is clear evidence that literacy has taken a big hit, especially for disadvantaged children, because learning at home can never match the magic of being in the classroom.  

“So, while literacy, reading and writing have always been important, it’s now absolutely vital that we tackle this issue head-on.” 

Trainee teachers Madeleine Hilton-Flynn and Sophie Devin, who are both studying PGCE Secondary English with QTS, took away lots of advice to improve their future practice. 

Madeleine said: “Hearing practical examples of how we can support pupils with their literacy and seeing the ideas and rules that underpin literacy education will have a huge impact on my teaching.” 

Sophie added: “As English trainees, we already love books and reading but it can be hard to instil that in pupils, now we have helpful strategies to help young people learn to love reading.”  

The conference featured talks from academics from Edge Hill and high-profile teachers from across the region sharing their research and real-world examples of how to get the best out of pupils.  

Organiser of the conference and senior lecturer in education Natalie Reynolds said: “It’s always exciting to be able to bring some of the nation’s best teachers and education experts to Edge Hill.

 “As one of the country’s biggest and best hubs for teacher training, we recognise our key role in helping teachers and schools recover from the pandemic and share best practice. 

“We will continue to share our research in any way we can, whether through our free online CPD or conferences like this one.”  

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