Improving early reading acquisition and development

Early success in reading is a strong predictor of later reading outcomes, therefore it is crucial children receive research-informed reading instruction from the start of school.  To achieve this, teachers need a comprehensive understanding of the skills underpinning early reading success and the effectiveness of different approaches to reading instruction (see Castles et al 2018).  As children starting school vary in their ‘reading readiness’ skills, reading instruction has to redress, as much as possible, inequalities in knowledge, to narrow the poverty related attainment gap and raise literacy attainment for all.  In this workshop we discuss these topics, in addition to teaching spelling, a skill which shares similarities with reading, but is invariably more complex.

In the videos below, Education Scotland, teachers and researchers share their work on supporting early reading acquisition and spelling development.

“Conversations about language and literacy: Improving early reading acquisition and development”
Sarah McGeown, University of Edinburgh

“Education Scotland: Guidance and support for literacy”
Helen Fairlie, Education Scotland.
Helen is a former Principal Teacher of English and has worked in the Literacy team at Education Scotland since 2013. As Education Officer for Literacy, Helen has supported authorities, schools and teachers to build capacity for high quality literacy learning. Areas of work have included supporting the new National Qualification, Literacy across learning in secondary schools, and, more recently, the Scottish Attainment Challenge and the National Improvement Framework.

“Improving Literacy – Our journey”
Simon Kelly, Alexandra Parade Primary School, Glasgow.
Simon Kelly is Head Teacher of Alexandra Parade Primary, situated in the East End of Glasgow. His teaching journey has taken him across the country, working for 3 different Local Authority areas – North Lanarkshire, West Lothian and Glasgow.

“Different approaches to early reading instruction: Implications for equity and attainment”
Sarah McGeown, University of Edinburgh
Sarah is a Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology within the School of Education, University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on early reading acquisition and development (specifically phonics instruction) and understanding the role of reading motivation and engagement on reading attainment. Details of her research can be found here:

“The influence of phonological skills and phonics teaching on reading development throughout primary school”
Laura Shapiro, Aston University
Laura is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Aston University researching how children learn to read and how reading can support vocabulary growth. She specialises in longitudinal research and has been tracking a large sample of children from school entry through to the end of primary school (the Aston Literacy Project;

Some recent findings on effective phonic interventions with at-risk readers in Grade 1 in Canada”
Rob Savage, UCL
Rob is Professor and Head of the Department of Psychology and Human Development at University College London. Until recently he was William Dawson Scholar at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He has published nearly 100 research articles in international journals exploring children’s early reading and spelling including over 25 reading intervention studies on 3 continents (North America, United Kingdom and Australia). He is particularly interested in preventing early reading and spelling problems, often using technology. He is a school-based psychologist and classroom teacher by training, and as such maintains an interest in making schools effective learning places for all children.

“Teaching spelling: Words are not all the same”
Rhona Stainthorp, University of Reading
Rhona is a Professor at the Institute of Education, University of Reading. She began teaching in secondary schools, before studying psychology in the hope of understanding why some pupils cannot read or write. This led to a career training teachers and speech and language therapists, and a research portfolio investigating the development of reading and writing. She has advised UK governments about literacy teaching. Her recent book written with Morag Stuart: Reading Development and Teaching highlights their commitment for teachers to have expert knowledge about the processes involved in reading and writing in order to engage in evidence-based practice.