Literacy Conference Workshops

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Workshop: Using picture books to develop comprehension and book talk (KS1/KS2)

As teachers of reading, it is our constant aim to create independent readers who have a range of strategies and tools to make meaning in all manner of texts. Yet in a busy curriculum, how we do plan for book-talk in which all children are motivated and excited to join in yet challenged and why might picture books offer greater possibilities for rich discussion? How do we know, as teachers, what to look for in a text and how do we plan effectively so that the quality of talk supports children in becoming more proficient as independent readers? This workshop will explore the use of picture books to extend children's comprehension and offer guidance on how and where to find those texts which could turn children on to reading. 

Mat Tobin

Mat teaches English and Children's Literature in Primary ITE and both the Primary PGCE and the 3-7 Early Years PGCE. Since joining Brookes in 2014 after 16 years of Primary teaching in Oxfordshire, Mat has been asked to deliver several keynotes across the UK on reading for pleasure, picture books and engaging pupils in the reading and writing process. He has research interests in children's literature and exploring how we can support all parents with regards to reading for pleasure in the home.

Find Mat on Twitter @Mat_at_Brookes

A whole-school approach to developing vocabulary and spelling

Drawing on findings from a recent nationwide research project, this workshop will explore some practical ways that teachers can help children meet the challenges of the National Curriculum and the KS2 national assessments, helping every child to increase their word power. 

James Clements

James Clements is the founder of education website 'Shakespeare and More'. For ten years, James was a teacher and senior leader at a wonderful primary school in West London. He also worked as a local authority lead teacher, leading training and supporting teaching and learning across a network of schools. James is now a researcher and education writer, working with schools and local authorities across the UK and further afield to develop the teaching of English.

The Mantle of the Expert

The Mantle of the Expert approach is about making learning exciting and meaningful to children. The idea is to create an imaginary context where the students are cast as an expert team with a job to do – rescue an injured climber, excavate an Egyptian tomb, restore a ruined castle – which the teacher uses to create purposeful activities for curriculum study – writing reports, researching the past, drawing plans to scale. In this workshop Tim will introduce the approach and take participants into an imaginary context just the way it would be done in the classroom.

Tim Taylor

Tim is a freelance teacher with over twenty years teaching experience. He is an associate lecturer for the Qattan teaching programme in Palestine and a visiting lecturer at Newcastle University. He runs training courses in Mantle of the Expert, both nationally and internationally and his first book ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Mantle of the Expert’ was published in July 2016. Tim is the web manager and blogger for and He writes for several education magazines and is a contributor to the Guardian Teacher Network.

Reading Fluency - Beyond the Mechanics to Improve Reading Comprehension

John will consider the importance of reading fluency, an integral aspect of reading comprehension that goes far beyond the mechanics of being able to read ninety words a minute. He will demonstrate a variety of ways in which we can support children as they engage with text and improve their understanding of it.

Ideal for those who work with learners who have mastered the mechanics of reading but who still struggle to access and interpret the written word at a deeper level, this workshop will give you helpful tips and guidance on how to enable your students to engage with text more fully and take ownership of their own reading development.

Practical, informative and fun, this reading comprehension workshop will give teachers an insight into the power of bringing the text to life and enthuse even the most reluctant of readers. You will gain an understanding of the need to consider reading fluency as a means of supporting and enhancing reading comprehension; one that actively involves each and every learner so that they are not a bystander to their own reading assessment and development.

John Murray

John Murray has been a primary teacher for many years before becoming an educational author and consultant specialising in developing children's reading comprehension and spelling, punctuation and grammar skills.

He is the creator of Reading Explorers, which is widely recognised as one of the most successful guided reading series in the UK. His new series Top Class offers an insight into how best to approach this important aspect of Literacy, using a 'text-centric' approach to the teaching, learning and application of Grammar.

John is now a Literacy Consultant, CPD trainer and guest speaker at key educational events. His seminars and training focus specifically on reading and spelling, punctuation and grammar development. 

Find John on Twitter @ReadingExplorer

Behind the page and screen: unpacking children's writing lives (KS1/KS2)

This workshop will explore shared definitions of writing and what this means for 21st Century writing classrooms. The focus will be on KS1 or KS2 children’s writing artefacts (there will be a separate workshop for KS1/KS2) and what their writing choices tells us about their relationship with the writing process. Practical strategies will be shared; including how writing conversations with children can be embedded into everyday classroom practice. 

Liz Chamberlain

Liz is a Senior Lecturer in Primary Education at the Open University and is a former primary teacher, leading literacy teacher and Assistant Headteacher. Her main area of expertise is linked to the field of English and, her research and writing interests focus on the ways in which children are positioned, and position themselves, as writers both at home and in school. She continues to work with children as co-researchers through the capture of on-going writing practices using video and photographs. For four years she was the Strategic Consultant for the 'Everybody Writes' national writing project and continues to share the outcomes of this work with teachers and student teachers to reflect on effective literacy practices. She is author of a number of books on writing including 'Inspiring writing in primary schools' (2016) and 'Teaching writing effectively: Reviewing practice' (2017).

A Text-Based Approach to Teaching English (KS1/KS2 Focus)

This session will look at how schools can move away from traditional English sessions and move towards a more creative, engaging approach. The workshop will focus on planning a unit of work using a consistent approach across the school. Laura will demonstrate practical ideas which are easily adapted, quick to implement and fantastic for engaging children in their learning.

Laura Lodge

Laura is a Literacy specialist who has experience working across the primary phase. Before joining One Education, Laura was Literacy Leader and Key Stage Two Phase Leader at a school in Manchester. She successfully leads whole school initiatives to improve the teaching and learning of Literacy by responding to the needs of individual staff and schools.

Dyslexia Friendly Classrooms (All primary school ages)

This workshop will explore practical ideas to help make text-based activities more accessible for dyslexic learners and also other learners who are struggling with their literacy skills. We will explore how simple adaptions to your planning and environment can empower pupils, support independent learning and help children to succeed.

Diane Moat

For over 20 years, Diane has worked with SEND children in the mainstream classroom, as a SENCo and as a specialist teacher across all Key Stages. She is passionate about inspiring teachers to inclusively support their SEND learners. Diane’s current role is specialist dyslexia teacher for One Education.

Musical Phonics (EYFS/KS1 Focus)

Musical Phonics is a very hands-on and practical session aimed at supporting the teaching of phonics in the Early Years and Key Stage 1. During the session we will look at developing rhythm and rhyme to support the early phases of letters and sounds and how music can enhance children's language, literacy and communication skills.

Jo Buckler

Jo has worked in primary schools across the North West for over 16 years, working across all Key Stages. She supports schools across Greater Manchester to develop their music curriculum and is currently an associate tutor at Manchester University on the PGCE Primary course. Jo is passionate about developing teachers' skills and confidence to deliver their own music. This is in order to provide all children with the opportunity to sing, play and make music together.


Pobble is an exciting way of using technology to make writing truly inspirational for children. Created by teachers and school leaders, Pobble was originally intended as a simple online bank of children’s writing to give other professionals ideas for their practice. However, what developed was a large worldwide community of enthusiastic people all passionate about children’s writing. With over 4 million website visits from over 100 different countries, this innovative website is now taking the education world by storm! Many schools are now using this wonderful tool as a spectacular way to raise writing standards and enjoyment, as well as dynamically engaging proud parents, carers and the wider school community.

This workshop will share with you a range of brilliant free resources and ideas which teachers can use and access immediately to impact on writing in schools. They will also share how Pobble publishes, shares and celebrates children’s writing with the world on a safe and secure platform, as well as their new exciting moderation tool.

As well as being absolutely inspirational to young writers, one of the reasons why Pobble has taken off in so many schools is that it has been created with the busy teacher in mind! It takes a matter of seconds to submit work to the site; Pobble does all of the rest! Pupils adore the site and monitoring the numbers of views and comments on their writing, as well as finding out which countries their readers are from! 

The presentation will be a selection of slides, short videos and children’s writing samples delivered by passionate co-founder Simon Blower.

Whole Brain Spelling

Spelling is tricky. How do we inspire and motivate children to learn spellings - particularly to those that find spelling difficult! This fun and practical workshop is based on recent research into the nature of memory. It explores how to use both left and right brain approaches to remember spellings.

Paul Gee

Paul Gee has a wealth of experience working in both primary and secondary schools as a SEND specialist. As well as having an MA in Specific Learning Difficulties, he is a qualified counsellor and therapeutic play practitioner. He has worked extensively with children who have behavioural difficulties as well as literacy needs.

Digging Deeper Into Books

Using talk and drama to get between the lines

The session will practically introduce some simple techniques to support teachers in digging deeper into text. The session will explore one book using the techniques in a range of ways to explore the meaning, focussing particularly on the authors craft. The techniques will create easy routes into discussion about books and allow teachers and pupils to explore the cues to pupil’s understanding text. The techniques will be usable by teachers straight away back in the classroom.

Simon Smith

23 years in Teaching (well apart from a couple of years as a consultant). Ex-lead literacy teacher (lapsed). Took the scenic route to becoming a head after years of saying 'I don't blummin' want that job!' and 'Why on earth would anyone do that?' Now a firm believer that it is the most amazing job in the world. Passionate advocate of Reading being the key to pupil’s success. Picture book obsessive. Proud father of two wonderfully funny boys. Husband to the most tolerant wife (she's quite low maintenance). 5 describing words. Driven, bald, sarcastic, beardy, kaffy-hearted (it's a Whitby term meaning soft).

Growing a reading for pleasure culture - making reading rock for all pupils!

Want to know how to drench your school in reading? Want to share the love of books with the families at your school? Want to get started straight away? Heather will share many ideas that you can take away to try at your school. She will look at the journey of building a reading culture and hopefully send you away inspired and excited to #ShareTheBookLove at your school.

Heather Wright

Heather is a primary school teacher with 13 years experience right across the primary age range. In the school year 2014-15, she led a whole school project called 'The Year of Reading'. This project aimed to drench the pupils in reading and ignite a love of reading in all pupils. Not only did the project have a huge impact at The District, it also won an Educate Award 2015 (Innovative and Creative Literacy) and was shortlisted for English Team of the Year at the TES Awards 2016.

Heather brought together over 150 teaching colleagues from across the country at a Saturday CPD event all about making reading rock for every pupil, called ReadingRocks16, last October. She continues to draw together the Reading Rocks community via the Twitter account.

Heather is passionate about building a love of reading in all children and relishes an opportunity to share this passion with other teaching colleagues.

Find Heather on Twitter @Mrs_iPad_W @ReadingRocks_17

Select your Workshop Preferences

Please note, we cannot guarantee you a place on your chosen workshops as there are limited spaces. If the workshop you would like to select is not shown, then it is already full. 

Workshop 1

10:10am - 11:05am

Workshop 2

11:20am - 12:15pm

Workshop 3

1:40pm - 2:35pm