I have been a member of the UKLA for as long as I have been teaching, as a staff member when we joined as a school and for the last ten years as an individual member. I joined primarily to have access to literacy resources to support my teaching. I do know that receiving English 4-11 as part of the membership was one of the reasons I kept renewing my membership. The articles in this magazine have inspired my practice as a teacher and lecturer throughout my career. I still have every edition to re-read, share and reference in my work when teaching students. English 4-11 captures the wonderful wealth and breadth of research and creative practice in literacy across the UK and beyond. One of the joys of being a member was being given the opportunity to join the editorial board of English 4-11 and then later, take the role of editor. The days we meet are some of my favourite days of the year as I work with a group of inspirational literacy colleagues and we receive a wealth of articles to read, discuss, support and edit to publication.
I work at Cardiff Metropolitan University and have been there for ten years. In my role as Principal Lecturer in Education I contribute to teaching all aspects literacy in primary education to our PGCE Primary students and giving lectures on reading for pleasure and thinking skills workshops to other Primary Education programmes across the School of Education and Social Policy. Prior to joining the university I was a primary school teacher for nineteen years and for fifteen of those years, I was an English and literacy leader within the school. I am one of the two Regional Reps for the UKLA in Wales.
I became a Regional Rep when I started working as a lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University. For me, this has meant putting on literacy and literary events at the university in partnership with the UKLA for teachers and students in the area. These events have included conferences, visiting guest lecturers and book launches. It has also meant getting involved with UKLA initiatives such as the student shadowing of the UKLA Book Awards. Many of these activities are embedded within my practice as a lecturer at the university to enrich the student experience and support teachers in our local community and partnership schools.
Currently I am giving free CPD sessions across the year for teachers in collaboration with the UKLA and OU. The Teachers Reading for Pleasure groups across the UK, led by Teresea Cremin’s research supports teachers in developing their knowledge of children’s literature, develops children as readers and supports them to build communities of readers within their schools and beyond. All teachers in the Cardiff and surrounding area are invited to come along to the group run my myself and an early career teacher who recently graduated from our PGCE programme. We are just into our second year, so we’re welcoming everyone back and inviting new members in too.
There are a great many things to enjoy within the literacy community at the moment, in particular the groups of readers developing children’s reading for pleasure to become lifelong readers – teachers, lecturers, librarians, authors, illustrators, publishers and organisations – who are all working together with this common aim and are keen to involve new people all the time.
I think we all play our own part within this community, at both a local and national level. At a university level, I share my knowledge and connections with the students and teachers I work with, who then go on to inspire others including me. As long as we continue to learn from each other and share our knowledge and practice, this momentum will only continue to grow. For those of us living in Wales, it also ensures that we share and celebrate the growing wealth of authors, illustrators and publishers here with the teaching community: This will ensure that Wales and its rich culture is reflected in classrooms both in Wales and across the border throughout the rest of the UK.
This sense of community is reflected within the UKLA, where membership continues to offer so much, including access to a group of like-minded people who are all passionate about the teaching of literacy and the support, inspiration and collaborations that this brings.
UKLA is currently looking for regional reps based in the Northumberland and Oxford regions. If you are a member of the UKLA and would like to consider becoming a regional rep, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org