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DLL Seminar: Professor Sue Ellis

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UCL Institute of Education

20 Bedford Way

Committee Room 1

London

WC1H 0AL

United Kingdom

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Sue Ellis is Professor of Education at the University of Strathclyde and Co-Director of its Centre for Education and Social Policy. She is co-author of the influential Joseph Rowntree Foundation Report Closing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Education. She led the Education Strand of Renfrewshire’s Poverty Commission and sits on the Scottish Government Assessment and National Qualifications Group. Sue researches effective literacy teaching and policy development, working with student teachers, teachers and the policy community on projects that improve literacy outcomes for pupils. Her focus is on developing sustainable, long-term and effective models for intervention and practice and on place-based research that generates the knowledge and the prototypes that help teachers change youngsters’ lives for the better.


Abstract

Social class and gender are strongly associated with how easily and how well children learn to read but education policies continue to frame literacy as a cognitive endeavour and evidence-based methodologies encourage education professionals to focus on content-based curricular interventions. Such approaches often ignore the social and cultural aspects of literacy learning in ways that risk literacy teaching appearing alien and unkind for some children, and are ultimately ineffective. This seminar re-positions the challenge of narrowing the literacy attainment gap between rich and poor as one that requires teachers to recognize, navigate and reconcile different kinds of evidence. It describes a successful intervention in Scotland that both raised attainment and narrowed the gap in one local authority with 49 primary schools. The intervention was premised on co-production between university academics and school staff, and between school staff and pupils. It helped teachers re-balance and expand their professional knowledge to create more inclusive and socially responsive literacy activities, resources and pedagogies.

The seminar raises issues about the need for research approaches that embrace the complexities of professional thought that circumnavigate polarised, unhelpful literacy debates and promote models of professional development that avoid compliance mentalities in teachers.

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UCL Institute of Education

20 Bedford Way

Committee Room 1

London

WC1H 0AL

United Kingdom

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