Call for Papers UKLA 55th International Conference

Literacy and Play for All: improvisation, possibility and imagination

Call for Papers 2019

In an age of accountability, it can be hard to make room for play in education, and yet at all ages it is through play that we experiment, take risks, explore meanings and negotiate our relationships with others and the world around us. Play can also have a disruptive influence, unsettling power relations and challenging convention, and is often characterised by qualities that do not always fit easily with educational frameworks, such as movement, ebullience, unpredictability and humour. In this conference we will consider literacy in relation to play and playfulness: the linguistic and textual play that is at the heart of composition, for example; the improvisational storying that emerges in imagined worlds; the free-flowing movements across media that characterise literacies in everyday life; and the playful pedagogies that work responsively with learners’ meaning-making. By making space for play, this conference will invite delegates to consider the relationships between play, language and literacy. It will explore how, as teachers, researchers and other literacy advocates, we can enable others to improvise and to imagine. It will also make space for delegates themselves to improvise, imagine and play with new possibilities.

We invite proposals for workshopsresearch papers and symposia on these and other topics. We encourage those who wish to be playful with approaches to presenting and involving participants. Please note, we are also playing with the format this year, and individual research papers may be grouped into sessions.

We invite all those currently engaged in postgraduate programmes of research (Masters, EdD, PHD) to contribute to our Postgraduate Research Student Slam which will feature brief presentations of work in progress.

We anticipate that themes explored through the conference will include:

  • -Literacy education in early years, primary, secondary, FE, HE
  • -Literacies in a variety of educational settings (schools, museums, libraries, etc.)
  • -Literacies in everyday lives
  • -Play, improvisation and exploratory approaches
  • -Playful teaching, playful learning and the role of humour
  • -Language play
  • -Children’s and young people’s literature
  • -Collaboration, participation and community
  • -Spaces, places and sites of possibility
  • -Role play, drama and theatre in education
  • -Social equity and inclusive approaches
  • -Critical literacy, active citizenship and children’s voice
  • -Literacy policy and politics: local, regional, national and international
  • -Popular culture
  • -Creativity, authorship and production
  • -Digital media, including film, social media, gaming
  • -Alternate, augmented and virtual reality
  • -Literacy and the creative, expressive and performing arts
  • -Meaning making and multimodality
  • -Multilingualism and multiliteracies
  • -Literacy pedagogy, curriculum, assessment
  • -Research methodologies for literacies research

Acceptance criteria

UKLA receives many more proposals than can be accommodated, so uses the following criteria to make decisions about which proposals to accept.

  • The proposal links clearly with the theme of the conference
  • The proposal is of high quality and of interest to the audience who attend the annual UKLA international conferences ( see below)
  • The proposal does not seek to endorse or sell published materials
  • The abstract is precisely written, as you would wish it printed in the conference brochure, and does not exceed 200 words (600 words for symposia and slams)
  • The proposal is received by the deadline of 31st December 2018


Proposals need to take into account the nature of the delegates who attend our conferences. These include:

  • the research community, mainly working in HE, (primary and secondary)
  • independent consultants in the field of language and literacy
  • subject advisers from Local Authorities in the UK
  • teachers/head teachers with a particular interest in literacy and learning for all age ranges

Presenters must make sure they include at least 5-10 minutes for discussion to enable participants to engage actively in the session.

The audience is an international one; proposals should avoid an ‘anglo-centric’ tone.

The deadline for submissions will be 31 December, and we will inform those who have submitted proposals of the outcome in February 2019.

We look forward to welcoming you for an inspiring conference.

Types of Sessions

There are five types of session to choose from when submitting your call for papers. Please choose the most appropriate session for your presentation when you complete your form. The types of sessions include:

  • Workshop: An active participatory learning experience, delegates are given tasks to do and discussion may be encouraged. Formal Elements will be kept to a minimum.
  • Seminar Presentation: An argument will be presented and development; this could be based on research and will facilitate a focussed seminar discussion.
  • Research Report: A report of completed or ongoing research will be given with the theoretical perspectives unpinning this work. Discussion time will be included.
  • Symposium: A panel of speakers, each of whom will give a short presentation on a common topic which they will then discuss, inviting audience participation. 
  • Postgraduate Research Student Slam: Session featuring multiple brief presentations of research in progress, open to all those engaged in postgraduate programmes of research (Masters, EdD, PHD)

Find out more about the conference.