Literacy for Learning Secondary School Virtual Conference 2021

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It has never been more important for young people to have the literacy skills to access the curriculum, do well in their learning across all subjects and develop the skills they need to be successful and thrive in their life beyond school.

Literacy for Learning is our flagship secondary school improvement programme, working with leaders and teachers across the country to ensure that young people have the literacy skills to succeed. The programme has a strong focus on disciplinary literacy and wider reading, including reading for pleasure, recognising that literacy plays a key part in wellbeing and tackling disadvantage.

Our secondary conference reflects the main strands of our programme, bringing together a range of academics, leading practitioners, award winning authors and champions from the business sector, with literacy at the heart of the conversation.


Tickets for this conference will cost £50 and will give your school access to all events for unlimited numbers of teachers and students. Book now.

In recognition of the ongoing situation regarding COVID-19, all events are online and teachers and students will be able to access them from school or at home via Zoom.


Our national conference has a wide range of events for teachers and students from 21 January to 29 January 2021, events and speakers include:

Keynote speaker – Alex Quigley. Alex is the National Content Manager at the Education Endowment Foundation. He was formerly a teacher and school leader for over fifteen years. Alongside this, he writes for TES, Teach Magazine and writes books for teachers. In his keynote, “Literacy in Secondary School - Successful Ways Forward”, Alex will explore the challenges of supporting teachers of every subject to tackle literacy, so that it is both manageable and meaningful. Drawing upon the Education Endowment Foundation Guidance Report, “Improving Literacy in Secondary School”, Alex explores a wealth of evidence, before going on to define “disciplinary literacy” and finally sharing a range of practical strategies.

Live teacher webinars on disciplinary literacy delivered by National Literacy Trust Secondary School Advisers will explore how to prioritise whole-school reading and writing, and how to use research to support students’ reading in school and at home.

A live roundtable event on literacy, diversity and equality chaired by Dame Julia Cleverdon DCVO CBE . The panelists are: Baroness Lola Young OBE, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), Siena Parker, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Penguin Random House and Alan Smith, Prison Library Service Advisor for Staffordshire. The panel will reflect on how the diversity of available literature in secondary schools and other educational settings can have a positive impact on literacy levels.

Sarah Crossan, multi-award winning author and Irish Children’s Laureate 2018-2020, is the go-to writer of the free verse novel in the UK and Ireland. In 2016, Sarah won the CILIP Carnegie Medal, as well as the YA Book Prize, the CBI Book of the Year award and the CLiPPA Poetry Award for her novel, One. Sarah will discuss her latest YA novel Toffee.

Alex Wheatle, the author of several acclaimed novels, many of them inspired by experiences from his childhood, was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal, won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2008. Alex will discuss his latest novel Cane Warriors.

Wyl Menmuir, Booker nominated author, will run a hands-on writing session: “Inspiring creative writing”. This will provide the opportunity for teachers to develop their own writing, as well as reflect on the ways in which creative writing is taught in the classroom. Bring a notebook, a pen and an open mind!

A live Birmingham Stories webinar on the use of research to support students’ reading at school and at home. The webinar will be chaired by Dr Kate Rumbold, Senior Lecturer in English Literature, University of Birmingham. The panelists are: National Literacy Trust Research Managers Emily Best and Anne Teravainen-Goff, Dr. Michaela Mahlberg, Professor of Corpus Linguistics at the University of Birmingham and Sonia Thompson, Head Teacher, St. Matthew's C.E. Primary Teaching and Research School, Birmingham.

Literacy and employability events will be held across the week, for students aged 14-19 who will have the opportunity to take part in a range of live events to promote the importance of literacy in the workplace. This will include two Words for Work workshops to develop CV writing and interview skills, as well as a series of business masterclasses led by volunteers from leading businesses PwC and Henry Boot Development. Events can be accessed at school or from home.

LfL Conference schedule

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If you would like to book your school on the conference, please RSVP via the link below.

Full conference details will be available in early January 2021.

Book now