IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


International Literacy Centre

Fostering cutting edge research and critical scholarship on literacy, pedagogy, policy and practice.

The International Literacy Centre (ILC) brings together literacy researchers, practitioners and teacher educators with an interest in developing an interdisciplinary research agenda that can tackle the most pressing questions in literacy pedagogy, policy and practice from the early years and across the life course.

About us

  • Create a vibrant and distinctive interdisciplinary research culture at IOE that supports innovative and methodologically rigorous thinking in literacy research
  • Deepen local, national and international partnerships that sustain literacy learning and teaching in the early years and across the life course, paying attention to the diverse ways in which literacy is embedded in the social world
  • Bring evidence to bear in public and professional debate on literacy education, literacy policy, and practitioner education
  • Work for the public good by sharing expertise amongst our stakeholders.
Our staff


Steering group


From the Department of Learning and Leadership

From other IOE departments


    Our research

    Key research themes

    Our key research themes include:

    • adult literacy – we have a strong interest in adult literacy research, policy and practice, and supervise doctorates in this area.
    • deepening professional knowledge and professional enquiry though the study of literacy in diverse settings
    • early literacy development and its challenges
    • enhancing literacy pedagogy through a focus on what works for whom, under what condition
    • interdisciplinary perspectives on literacy – what can we learn from each other
    • literacy as a lifelong and life-wide social practice – the contribution of ethnography, sociolinguistics and psychology to empirical enquiry
    • literacy policy and its impact on literacy practices in education
    • tools for studying literacy interventions: process evaluation, theories of change and rapid evidence assessment
    • transposing literacy pedagogies into other languages and education systems.


    The ESRC Education Research Programme 2021-26

    A project  comprising of a cohort of nine projects have been funded to explore two themes:

    • teaching and learning with a focus on teachers, their recruitment, retention and professional development 
    • uses of technology that enrich teaching and learning.

    More info: The ESRC Education Research Programme 2021-26

    Learning through disruption: rebuilding primary education using local knowledge

    A project exploring how primary school parents, pupils and staff have coped with, and adapted to, a period of prolonged disruption in education, and the lessons we can learn as schools resume. More info: Learning through disruption

    Reading Aloud in Britain Today (RABiT)

    This two-year study of contemporary adult reading aloud practices explored diverse forms of oral reading in different communities, languages, cultural contexts and phases of adult life. The study was funded by the AHRC and carried out in urban and rural locations across Scotland, Wales and England. More info: RABiT

    Rapid Evidence Review on Translational Research 

    Dr Sinead Harmey, Dr Bernardita Munoz-Chereau and Professor Gemma Moss conducted a rapid evidence review for the Froebel Trust on Translational Research. This investigation explored the processes involved in successful research ‘translation’ and the key features or the characteristics of academic work that has been translated and used in education settings.

    A framework is provided to support researchers to make their research more accessible and support the development of successful partnerships. More info: Translational Research Rapid Evidence Review

    Reimagining Literacy Practica

    Dr Sinead Harmey received UCL Global Engagement Funds to engage in a project with Dr Bobbie Kabuto (Queens College, City University of New York) on the “Reimagining literacy practica: Preparing educations to teach literacy in a global context’ project”.

    Manor Park Talks

    Conducting a systematic review for the implementation of the Every Child a Talker (ECAT) programme, this is a part of a school-based intervention with Sheringham Nursery School and funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).

    Current teaching practice in using a system of phonics with post-16 learners

    This project is creating resources for the Education Training Foundation (ETF) to support the use of phonics in the Functional Skills English curriculum for post-16 learners.

    A duty of care and a duty to teach: educational priorities in response to the COVID-19 crisis

    This project explores the challenges the COVID-19 crisis sets primary school teachers. These challenges will be considered in the light of the diverse roles primary schools find themselves playing in their local communities. More info: Educational priorities in response to the COVID-19 crisis

    The role of Teaching Assistants during the COVID crisis

    A study looking at how teaching assistants (TAs) and those working in classroom support roles have been working with children, families and teachers during the COVID crisis.


    Our consultancy projects develop through strong relationships with publishers, practitioners, third sector organisations and policymakers.

    We work to:

    • bring research into dialogue with practice
    • deepen professional knowledge by fostering professional enquiry
    • encourage critical thinking and reflective practice that is evidence-informed.
    Reading Recovery

    Reading Recovery is an accredited school-based literacy intervention for five- to six-year-olds who are the lowest attaining in reading and writing.

    From its base within the International Literacy Centre, Reading Recovery Europe promotes high quality professional learning for teachers that enables those pupils who struggle with literacy learning to catch up with their classroom peers. Reading Recovery has been widely researched nationally and internationally. Independent evaluations consistently show it has long lasting impacts.

    Reading Recovery is currently implemented in the following European countries:

    • England
    • Republic of Ireland
    • Scotland
    • Malta.
    Seminar series

    ILC hosts a termly seminar series where researchers, practitioners, and those with an interest in literacy education, policy, and practice across the lifespan can come together to discuss current issues in the field. Dr Sinead Harmey is the series convenor.

    See all forthcoming ILC events.

    Other activities
    Doctoral student literacy special interest group (SIG)

    We have a special interest group for doctoral students doing work related to literacy. Please contact us if you are an IOE doctoral student and would like to join the SIG.

    Become an affiliate member

    This membership provides a space for those with an interest in the teaching and learning of literacies to engage in debate and share expertise at both national and international level.

    Find out more information and apply for membership.

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    Short courses

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