International Conference 2024

University of SussexBrighton

5th – 7th July 2024

60 Years of UKLA Making the Difference


  1. Download and follow the registration guidelines carefully to ensure a smooth process (this guide includes a complete outline of conference fees).
  2. Click here to register:

Key Dates:
March 29th:   Deadline for presenters to register
May 3rd          Early Bird Deadline
May 24th:       Final registration deadline

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The 59th UKLA international conference will be a special occasion for the United Kingdom Literacy Association and all its members. We will be celebrating 60 years of our Association’s work in literacy education. It will be an occasion to look back but, very importantly, to look ahead to the future.

The theme of the conference is ‘Making the difference: what has had an impact on learning, engagement and attitudes?’ Literacy learning across the world, from early years to adulthood has been through some tumultuous times over recent years.  Teachers and lecturers alike have had to adapt, find new skills and be resourceful. This conference will provide the space and time to sit back and reflect. To revisit or share new research and evidence. To allow time to really consider what does make a difference to literacy learning.

This conference will explore broad themes such as what do the most successful schools do to teach reading?  How do we get our A level students to want to study English?  How do we navigate the challenges of AI to make effective assessments in English at Universities and colleges?  We hope to hear voices from across the spectrum of education for literacy.

Through the themes, we hope to focus a lens on our disadvantaged pupils and students. The very best teachers have made the difference to those pupils, used literacy to provide a lifeline and life chance. We are keen to share those stories, to perhaps help inform future education policies.


Professor Arlette Ingram Willis

Arlette Ingram Willis is a Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois. She received the Oscar S. Causey award for research in 2021 and was inducted into the Reading Hall of Famie in 2020. She has received numerous other awards including the John J. Gumperz Memorial Award for Distinguished Lifetime Scholarship.

Her scholarship consists of interrogating how conceptions of race are framed in reading research, examining secondary pre-service English teacher education, and applying critical theories to literacy policy and research. Willis also has on-going research collaborations work with colleagues in Brazil, Columbia, and New Zealand who examine the influence of Paulo Freire’s theorizing and instruction. Her publications include numerous books, book chapters, co-edited books, and refereed journal articles.  

Willis is a past Fulbright Scholar (2013-2014), conducting research in Brazil on the life and critical scholarship of Paulo Freire. She is a past president of the Literacy Research Association (2014) and the National Conference on Research in Language and Literacy (2007-2008).

Dr Ian Cushing

Ian Cushing is Senior lecturer in Critical Applied Linguistics at Manchester Metropolitan University. He began his career as a school teacher in Inner London and completed his PhD in applied Linguistics in 2019. His current work examines the intersections of race, class and language in the production and maintenance of inequalities in schools, early years settings and teacher education.  Recent projects include tracing the resurgence of deficit thinking in England’s schools, particularly around ideologies and interventions concerning the so called word gap.

In 2023 he gave the Harold Rosen Lecture, ‘From the white ears of Ofsted to the word gap: language policing as a design feature of English education.  His work focuses on how ideologies about language get translated into policies, and how this can further marginalise racialised children from low-income communities.

Alex Wheatle

Alex Wheatle is a novelist, playwright and screenwriter who has been involved in  community and education initiatives aimed at supporting young people. He was born in Brixton, South London in 1963 to Jamaican immigrants. He was placed in a children’s home at the age of 6. He is a best selling author of several books including the modern Classic, Brixton Rock and the multi award winning Crongton series. He was awarded an MBE for literature in 2008 and has twice been nominated for the Carnegie Medal.  He has won numerous other awards including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.

Dr Julia Sutherland

Julia Sutherland is Senior Lecturer and Director of Teaching and Learning, School of Education and Social Work, at the University of Sussex. Formerly an English teacher and senior leader in culturally diverse, urban schools, her research focuses on reading, dialogic classroom discourses, educational disadvantage and equity, and teacher education. Using sociocultural, critical and interdisciplinary perspectives, she is also interested in the transformative potential of participatory forms of action research to support teacher agency and development.

Currently, as Principal Investigator, she is investigating the nine-year national impact on teachers, students and schools, of the ‘Faster Read’ research. This immersive, dialogic, whole-text reading approach, shown to greatly support struggling and disadvantaged readers’ engagement and development, has been enthusiastically spread by teachers across the UK, radically challenging existing pedagogies.  


  1. Download and follow the registration guidelines carefully to ensure a smooth process (this guide includes a complete outline of conference fees).

Click here to register:

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International Conference 2024

University of Sussex, Brighton 5th – 7th July 2024 60 Years of UKLA Making the Difference EARLY BIRD REGISTRATIONS ARE NOW OPEN! Key Dates:March 29th:   Deadline for presenters to registerMay

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