by Charlotte Hacking and Farrah Serroukh
We’re so excited to be starting a new academic year working in partnership with schools, teachers and the children's literature community to ensure children have the best quality learning, literature and support to develop lifelong literacy.
There’s lots to look forward to at CLPE in 2023/24, but here are five of the things that we are most excited about:
1) A firm focus on the importance of Reading for Pleasure
In July, the revised reading framework was released by the Department for Education. It recognises that Reading for Pleasure is fundamental to a school’s culture and curriculum in ‘creating readers not just pupils who read.’
This lies at the heart of our work at CLPE, in particular in our Power of Reading Programme. For many years, we have engaged with and contributed to research which shows how important this is; not just in terms of children's academic attainment, but also in targeting socio-economic disadvantage.
The programme, which is now in its 18th year, supports teachers to put many of the recommendations into practice:
We're pleased to be receiving lots of new and continuing interest in the programme from Local Authorities, trusts and individual schools in the UK and beyond since the release of the framework. In January, we released our Power of Reading impact report, to provide wider information about the programme and its impact.
An independent evaluation of the Power of Reading, by Leeds Trinity University evidenced the impact the programme has on children's outcomes:
2) A continued focus on the importance of poetry for children’s developing literacy
As the National Poetry Centre for Primary Schools, we know the fundamental importance of poetry for developing children’s engagement, fluency and comprehension as readers and their motivation and creativity as writers.
Each year, through our children’s poetry award, the CLiPPA, we also see the delight and pleasure gained by children actively engaging in poetry through performance, and the impact this has on their confidence, speaking and listening skills and engagement with learning.
Poetry is a special genre, as well as supporting literacy, it does so much to enable children to engage with and understand the world around them, and to support social and emotional well-being.
From the poetry survey we conducted with Macmillan Children’s Books in 2023, we know, however, that teachers rarely get the opportunity for CPD in poetry – 61% had never had this – and that they need more support in knowing and finding a greater range of poets and poetry to use with their children.
That’s why, in 2023/24, we’re more committed than ever before to raising the profile of poetry in the primary curriculum and in supporting schools with the CPD, recommendations and resources to teach poetry in the classroom. This includes:
3) Building our community of schools, to share learning and practice and develop learning in partnership
CLPE is lucky to work in partnership with such a wide range of schools in the UK and beyond.
Schools involved in our research programmes help us to evaluate what works in the teaching of literacy in the current context.
Working with schools on our training programmes, online and face-to-face, and through our INSET and Consultancy visits gives us valuable insight into what children and teachers need in terms of support and resources.
Feedback on texts and resources used as part of our CLPE membership helps us to continually broaden our text selections, based on teachers and children’s needs and interests and ensure plans support teachers to achieve the best possible outcomes in their classrooms.
Our invaluable partnerships with our network of associate schools help us to evaluate and showcase the effectiveness of the programmes and approaches we develop with a wider network of schools.
We use each and every interaction and evaluation we have with schools to develop our programme to best meet the needs of our community of schools. In 2023/24 we will be:
Our 2021/22 impact report shows the value of our training programme to schools and teachers:
4) Launching new research
In 2023/24 we will be launching two new pieces of research.
The first is the evaluation of CLPE’s Closing the Vocabulary Gap in the Early Years programme, funded by the Mercers’ Company and evaluated by the Institute for Employment Studies. The project has the overarching aim of improving young children’s vocabulary in Early Years settings and reducing the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.
This three-year project began in April 2020, and finished at the end of the 2022/23 academic year. It was designed by CLPE and delivered in partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to 30 schools in three London boroughs reaching 88 teachers and 1,200 pupils. The schools were selected because they all had high indicators of social deprivation.
Early Years teachers in the schools received a sustained CPD programme , to enhance their subject and pedagogic knowledge of how texts can support the development of literacy and language. A key element of the project was a book gifting programme where children received books into their homes and the same books are delivered to their schools. Amongst other things, the findings convey the power of meaningful engagement and access to quality books in the school and home environment, alongside purposeful interactions with teachers and parents around texts.
We also celebrate publication of the 6th Reflecting Realities report in the second half of the Autumn Term. Reflecting Realities is the first UK study looking at diversity in children's literature. Funded by the Arts Council England, this work aims to provide ongoing quantative and qualitative insights into ethnic representation and diversity in children's publishing in the UK.
The five years of reporting so far have provided benchmark statistics which have seen a sustained increase in the number and percentage of books that contain characters from racially minoritised backgrounds; a standard which is vital in ensuring all young readers have the opportunity to encounter books in which they can see themselves, their experience and the wider world reflected.
We’re also embarking on the last year of our Reflecting Realities in the Classroom research programme, exploring the impact such literature has in the classroom on children’s literacy and their identities as readers and writers.
5) Continuing to work with the wider literacy community to provide a collective voice on aspects of children’s literacy
We are incredibly fortunate to work with a range of partners, across the charity, educational and publishing spheres to enable us to work together as a collective to improve outcomes for children.
Our building itself provides a hub for a number of literacy organisations. In addition to First Story, who have shared our building since 2019, we are delighted to welcome the English and Media Centre to our building in 2023/24. We couldn’t ask for better partners, who both share our values and motivations for children and young adults to receive the best quality provision and experiences to develop lifelong literacy, within and beyond the walls of the classroom, inspired by quality literature and its creators.
We will also continue our work with valued partners including Booktrust, The National Literacy Trust, UKLA, The Forward Arts Foundation, The National Theatre and Empathy Lab, as well as participating in influential groups like the Fair Education Alliance, the Poetry by Heart Consortium and the Children’s Poetry Summit.
We continue to work in partnership with children’s publishers, independent booksellers and children’s literature award bodies to support schools to choose and use the best quality children’s literature to inspire and motivate children as readers and writers.
And of course, we’ll be working with a wide range of children’s authors, poets and illustrators whose work inspires our own, and who work with us in partnership to deliver our programmes to schools. This year, we are particularly excited to be working with Nadia Shireen, Benjamin Zephaniah and S.F. Said on our Reflecting Realities in the Classroom project; Michael Rosen and Kate Wakeling on our poetry progamme; Bali Rai and E.L. Norry on our Developing Historical Enquiry Around a High Quality Text webinars and Yijing Li on our Power of Pictures programme. This is in addition to the wide range of authors, illustrators and poets who inspire teachers and children on our Power or Reading Programme and as part of the CLPE Poetry Award, the CLiPPA.
Our work is only possible because of the schools, partners, publishers, authors, illustrators and poets that we work with, and the funders who support our programmes and research, including The Arts Council England, The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Mercers’ Company. And of course, our team, trustees and patrons here at CLPE, whose drive and determination to provide the best for schools and teachers is unwavering.
We look forward to having you join us this year and in supporting you to achieve the best outcomes for children.