UKLA National Conference 2024

Click here to buy your ticket !

Students £10

Members £30

Non-members £40

Promoting Inclusion and Belonging in Literacy

The UKLA annual National Conference (online, 2nd March 2024), explores how literacy can foster a sense of inclusion and belonging. It can empower individuals with knowledge and provide opportunities for everyone’s voice to be valued and heard.

The conference has been designed to give participants useful and practical insights about how we can cultivate a sustainable and equitable literacy experience for all.

Keynote Speakers

Keynote 1

Rowan Ellis

Rowan Ellis is an author and speaker known for her educational online content and advocacy work in the LGBTQ+ community. Her debut book for teen girls “Here and Queer: A Queer Girl’s Guide To Life” received a Highly Commended Award at the UKLA Awards in 2023. She produces long form video essays on YouTube about LGBTQ+ issues, representation, and pop culture – exploring everything from movie trope deep dives to lesser known moments of queer history. Her work has been covered in publications including Forbes, The Guardian, Teen Vogue, Elle UK, and the BBC. She lives in London with her two cats, Ichabod and Persephone, who love to walk over her laptop while she tries to work on her next book.

In her keynote Rowan will talk about her work as an LGBTQ+ advocate, and her experience writing a book which has been removed from shops and libraries due to its inclusive content.

You can find Rowan at: YouTube:

Instagram: @heyrowanellis Website:

Keynote 2

Sukwinder Samra

Sukwinder was educated in the Black Country and started her teaching career as a Secondary Science teacher before accidentally falling in love with primary education, where she has remained for over 30 years. In 2020, Sukwinder was awarded an MBE for Services to Education. Based in East London and with over 20 years in a senior leadership position, she is the Headteacher of Elmhurst Primary. She tries to maintain balance through juggling motherhood (twin teenage boys), inspecting schools as an Ofsted inspector and her Headteacher role. She is deeply committed to inclusion and diversity and providing excellence to all students.

In her keynote Sukwinder will share her story of how her own literacy journey, as an EAL learner in a disadvantaged part of the Midlands, informed her deep commitment to providing a rich literacy offer for her pupils. She will provide insight into the school’s context and how the school embraces a dual reading and writing for pleasure culture whilst maintaining high attainment, including in the end of KS2 SATs. Elmhurst Primary was the UKLA Literacy School of the Year Award for 2023.

You can find Sukwinder on LinkedIn.

Keynote 3

James O’Neill (FFT)

James O’Neill is a Training Officer for Friends, Families and Travellers – A national charity who work to end racism and discrimination against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people and to protect the right to pursue a nomadic way of life. James comes from an Irish Traveller background and through his work, he aims to improve access to services for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community members.

  In his keynote James will discuss the cultural rich hertiage of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community and how to support individuals and families with the issues that matter most to them and to address the root causes of inequalities

  He can be found at:


09:20 – 09:30             Welcome and Introductions

09:30 – 10:30             Keynote 1 Rowan Ellis

10:45 – 11:30             Workshop 1

11:30 – 11:45             Break

11:45 – 12:45             Keynote 2 Sukwinder Samra

12:45 – 13.15             Break

13:15 – 14:00             Workshop 2

14:00 – 14:15            Break

14:15 – 15:15            Closing Keynote James O’Neill


Workshop 1 – Morning sessions

  1. Suzy Aldous – English Teacher & Doctorate Student, University of Strathclyde

Literacy Spaces for Neurodivergent Learners

A collaborative workshop where participants will have the opportunity to share learning and experience of Literacy spaces designed for neurodivergent learners.  Rather than a one size fits all approach, we will share varying ideas across sectors including classrooms, libraries and ASN support bases.

This session is aimed at all members.

B. Andrea Varney Joanna Brown (who writes for children as J.T. Williams) – The British Library

              Celebrating ethnic diversity in primary writing and reading

This session suggests creative ways of enabling children to see themselves represented in books, both through reading and writing. Led by author and educator Joanna Brown, you’ll have the chance to try out playful activities which put children at the heart of their own stories, drawing on rich resources from the British Library’s Discovering Children’s Books website. Please bring pens and paper to this session.

This session is aimed at primary members.

C. Elizabeth Hutchinson – School Library Specialist, Trainer & Adviser  

Unlocking Literacy: The Power of Inclusive Inquiry-Based Learning

This session explores the pivotal role of inquiry-based learning in promoting inclusion and fostering a sense of belonging in literacy education. Recognising the diverse needs and learning styles of students, we delve into the transformative potential of inquiry-based approaches to engage a wider range of pupils. By embracing an inclusive framework, educators can tailor their teaching methodologies to accommodate varied abilities and backgrounds, ensuring that every student feels valued and empowered in the learning process. This presentation aims to inspire educators to champion inclusive literacy practices that not only enhance academic outcomes but also contribute to a more equitable and supportive learning environment for all.

This session is aimed at secondary members.

D. Hannah Grace and Aaishah Rauf – Windsor High School and Sixth Form

The KS3 novel study: empowering reading experience through creativity and connection

Key Stage 3 is the space where we have the freedom to enrich students’ experiences of reading and expose them to a diverse range of texts that will shape their own reading identities as well as their connections to others. This session will explore how we have used the study of a modern and culturally-relevant verse novel in Year 9 to creatively engage students in reflection, reading and writing. We will showcase the work students have produced that demonstrates the power of creative pedagogies in encouraging authentic personal engagement and connection between self and society

This session is aimed at secondary members.            

Workshop 2 – Afternoon Sessions

  1. Navan Govender – University of Strathclyde: Institute of Education

Engaging with the Politics of Pronouns through Critical Language Awareness

In this workshop, participants are invited to hone in on the politics of pronouns as one linguistic device for doing critical language awareness. Critical language awareness is underpinned by an interest in the social, cultural, political functions of language and its devices. As an approach, it requires us (teachers, learners, student teachers, and teacher educators) to explore how language works as well as the consequences of the different linguistic choices we make. While some consequences may be dangerous and risky, others can be affirming and foster belonging. Together we will explore the range of social functions of pronouns by applying both critical and queer lenses to existing research, before considering autoethnographic data from within teacher education. The session will include some personal reflective writing, critical text analysis, and critical discussions on language and pedagogy, all bent toward social justice and inclusion.

This session is aimed at all members.

B. Jo Tregenza – University of Sussex

Developing and inclusive approach to reading for children with physical and learning disabilities

This workshop will explore the tale of Treloar’s school and college which provides teaching, learning, professional care, therapy, advice and guidance to pupils and students so they can work towards a future as independent as possible. We will discuss the development of the Treloar’s Tree for Reading. The Reading Tree is the outcome of two years partnership work between the University of Sussex and the teaching and speech and language staff at the school. Working alongside pupils we developed an understanding of their complex needs and then developed a method to refine staff’s knowledge and understanding of reading for pupils with such complex needs. The tree now forms the backbone of their policy for reading.

This session is aimed at all members.    

C. Sarah Douglas and Emily Fairbrother – Abbeywood School

Literacy strategies to engage learners who believe they can’t, won’t and really shouldn’t participate

This workshop will discuss ways to engage learners with SEND who are resistant to literacy due to their previous experiences. The workshop will include a range of examples and address strategies used to promote engagement and academic progress. We will consider the role of provocations and themes as starting points for learners who whole-heartedly believe that they can’t, won’t and really shouldn’t participate.

This session is aimed at all members.

Tickets now available.

All participants can select the workshops they wish to attend on the day, simply join the breakout room allocated to corresponding workshop.

Please note that this conference will not be recorded.

Joining instructions will be sent to all participants prior to the event.

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