​UKLA International Conference – a first timer’s response

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I am so glad I finally made it to the UKLA conference. After years of being unable to go I had finally made it. A string of obstacles had always stood in my way, but mainly the fact that it always falls on the weekend of my birthday and the idea of being away from family for this most important of dates was always too much to contemplate. But this year I was selfish! A whole weekend to talk about literacy, meet authors and make new research buddies turned out to be the perfect birthday treat!

There were so many memorable moments across the weekend. Certainly, watching Chris Ridell draw and having the chance to look through his sketch books was priceless. How I would love to rummage through his scrap drawers! My signed copy of Ottoline goes to school is now amongst one of my most prized possessions along with the other books signed by the talented authors at the UKLA book awards [link to awards].

Another tear-jerker was listening to Anne Haas Dyson’s keynote speech on Saturday morning. She richly brought to life the experiences of the children in her class and the richness of their play, reminding us that when children play they show us what they have learnt about literacy. It served as a reminder to us all that children’s play must be protected and valued.

Amongst the keynote speeches were so many fascinating workshops to choose from. It was a privilege to be learning from teachers and researchers from around the world sharing their experiences and practices in such a generous way.

Perhaps the most memorable feeling across the weekend was one of hope and support. To be amongst so many people who are committed to changing children’s lives through sharing their love of reading and writing was truly humbling and inspiring.

I’ve already warned the family that I will be away again next year. Now I’ve realised how much I have been missing out on I’m determined not to miss it again. My birthdays will never be the same again!

Emma Rogers is a Senior Lecturer at Bishop Grosseteste University. She is a teacher and independent consultant providing literacy and learning support to schools, networks and LAs.


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