Reading Recovery Europe


Reading Recovery national conference 2021

Professional development to enhance your practice in working with young readers with opportunities to build your expertise in literacy learning and intervention and share experiences with colleagues.

A boy reading to his brother

Image: by Philip Meech 

Dates: Virtual conference site was open from 19th April 2021 for three weeks. 

Location: online.

Invited participants: Reading Recovery Europe network and classroom teachers, literacy coordinators, SENDCos, school leaders, literacy consultants, and student teachers.  

Conference theme:  'Learning to talk, talking to learn.' 

Through language we represent our ideas and our knowledge; we negotiate our place in contexts and express our hopes and feelings; we refine and test what we understand in connection with others. Language has many dimensions which interact with reading and writing including meaning, vocabulary, structural conventions, phonology and pragmatics. We express our ideas and receive and respond to the ideas of others though language - it's not surprising that language development is so influential on literacy development.  

With reduced time in class with teachers and peers and more time online or engaged in remote learning, how much we talk and the ways in which we talk to learn has come into sharper focus. As part of the conference we were considering how we might get purposeful talk in remote learning designs and also what thinking might be helpful as schools reopen/get back to normal. 

This conference explored key themes in language development and literacy development, instructional practices which support children in learning to talk, listen, read and write and the role that talk plays in learning through meaningful interactions with adults and peers.     

The main conference programme including keynotes and pre-recorded talks was open to all registered participants. The programme included:


  • Transforming teaching and learning through talk:  The Oracy Imperative; Beccy Earnshaw, the Director of Voice21 - a charity doing pioneering and transformational work in oracy education.

  • 'Reader, Writer, Liar: A Lifetime's Dedication to Making up the Truth'; Alan Durant, Children’s author and poet.


  • "We talk - we get a story in - that's our time": understanding shared reading practices in families; Dr Rachael Levy, Associate Professor in Education, Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UCL Institute of Education;
  • News-natter! Embedding enjoyable, collaborative news-reading experiences in the KS2 classroom; Dr Frances Bodger, lecturer in Education, UCL Institute of Education, and Nicolette Smallshaw, Head of Education, First News;
  • “It sucks the life force”: where does digital technology belong in early years language and literacy development?; Dr Charlotte Vidal-Hall, UCL Institute of Education.
  • Intervening to support poor readers in year 3: The role of morphology instruction; Professor Rob Savage, UCL Institute of Education

A menu of curated content:
Talks, papers and resources linked to the conference theme and exploring the role of talk in leadership, class teaching, well-being and literacy learning.

An exhibition space:
Information posts and exhibition from publishers including Barrington Stoke, Blueberry Hill, Harper Collins, Hachette Children’s Books, Ransom Publishing Ltd, Raintree, Scholastic, Walker Books, Education Works and Voice 21.

Each exhibitor offered a raffle prize for one of the conference attendees.  Winners were randomly selected from registration lists.

Reading Recovery specialist seminars:
In addition, Reading Recovery teachers will be able to access four specialist seminars led by RRE National Leaders. The themes are as follows:

  1. Book Talk - valuing genuine child/ teacher conversations about reading; Glen Franklin
  2. Building a literacy community after learning disruption; Dr Sinead Harmey
  3. Connecting (and reconnecting) through talk: building learning conversations;  Dr Sue Bodman
  4. Teacher talk as scaffolding: Combining expert noticing and fine-tuned responding to avoid ‘instructional risk’; Dr Helen Morris

Live discussion / workshop for Reading Recovery teachers:
On Friday 23rd April, workshop style 30-45 minute live discussions related to the specialist seminars took place on Zoom at 10.00, 11.30 and 13.30. 

Session discussions were led by Reading Recovery National Leaders and Teacher Leaders.

Cost: Free  

Registration: Registration was open to Reading Recovery professionals and their school colleagues.