A former teacher, special needs teacher and headteacher, Debbie has campaigned extensively over many years to achieve national, research-informed, systematic synthetic phonics teaching in primary schools. As a representative of the UK Reading Reform Foundation (former editor of the RRF newsletter, founder of the RRF website and Honorary Committee Member), she advised the British Government for the parliamentary inquiry ‘Teaching Children to Read’ (March 2005) and she helped to inform Sir Jim Rose’s ‘Independent review of the teaching of early reading’ (Final Report, Jim Rose, March 2006).
In 2012, Debbie was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Years Honours List for services to education.
Debbie is known to be a controversial and inspirational speaker and has spoken alongside Sir Jim Rose at literacy conferences.
She currently provides phonics consultancy services internationally including training in schools and universities. Debbie has written many challenging and informative articles for educational magazines and parents’ magazines, and for many years she has provided highly practical advice for parents, teachers, teacher-trainers, politicians, publishers, manufacturers and television programme producers. She is author of the online Phonics International programme for all ages (Phonics International Ltd) and phonics consultant for the Oxford Reading Tree Floppy’s Phonics Sounds and Letters programme designed for infants (Oxford University Press).
Debbie is currently a member of the Developmental Disorders of Language and Literacy (DDOLL) Network Group and a founding member of the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction as she strongly recognises the value of international connections and the need for further campaigning to raise awareness of the ‘disastrous disconnect’ between research findings and actual teaching and provision for learners. Various researchers, politicians and governments have already played their part to formally and legally embed and promote research-informed teaching practices – but much more is required to guarantee high-quality, evidence-informed teacher-training and continuing professional development, and to promote delivery of effective literacy instruction for every child in every classroom – regardless of any learning difficulties or challenges arising from learning English as an additional language.
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As a former local authority English advisor and headteacher, Ruth has extensive leadership experience as well as curriculum expertise. She works across the country supporting academy trusts, local authorities, schools and other organisations in improving teaching, strengthening leadership and developing curriculum. Ruth is currently the chair of the National Association of Advisors in English (NAAE) as well as working with organisations such as The National Literacy Trust (NLT) and the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) as an associate consultant/teacher and she is a member of the United Kingdom Literacy Association's (UKLA) Awards and Members Committee. Ruth is passionate about research-informed practice and in supporting teachers to understand how children learn to read and write.
Rob Randel has been a primary teacher for 15 years. Having promoted high quality and evidence-informed early reading instruction for several years, he has a wealth of experience in advising school leaders and teachers about the science of reading, and how they can best evaluate their current provision. Since 2021, he has been a committee member of the Reading Reform Foundation and an advisory group member to the International Foundation of Early Reading Instruction.
Jo Heffer has more than twenty years’ experience as a teacher and education consultant. After successfully leading literacy in primary schools in Walthamstow and St Helens, and being a team leader for the Hounslow Language Service, she became Literacy Consultant for Windsor and Maidenhead. As a consultant, she was fully involved with the implementation of Talk for Writing and was a lead consultant for the Every Child a Writer programme.
In 2012, she became a freelance consultant and since then has run training courses for AQA, OSIRIS, the Primary Writing Project as well as running her own bespoke training for schools across the country. These include training on the teaching of phonics, spelling, grammar, reading, writing and assessment. She offers a wide range of consultancy work for schools as well as working on the School Direct training in Windsor and Maidenhead. She is an accredited FFT Wave 3 trainer.
From September 2021, she will be leading on primary assessment in Ealing Local Authority.
In September 2020, her first book, ‘Grammar First Aid for Primary Teachers’ was published. She has also written a number of online resources for Teachit Primary.
Emma Spiers is a former Early Years Ofsted Inspector, local authority adviser and deputy head. She works nationally and internationally as an independent early reading consultant, supporting school improvement across academy trusts, local authorities, schools and early years settings. Emma works with trainee teachers for a number of Outstanding ITT providers, and in partnership with several national English Hubs. Emma is a ‘hands on’ trainer, with a passion for bringing all aspects of early reading to life through practical, first class provision.
Anne Glennie is a literacy consultant and trainer, creator of Reflective Reading and the Story Kitchen, and owner of The Learning Zoo. To date, she has trained over 11,000 teachers in all aspects of literacy in Scotland. With a particular interest and specialism in the teaching of reading through systematic synthetic phonics, she sits on the Reading Reform Foundation committee and is also a founding committee member of IFERI – the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction and is known for her thought-provoking education comment pieces. She is the author of fifteen children’s reading books for the Rising Stars Rocket Phonics series and has also written Reflective Reading, a handbook for teachers on how to teach reading comprehension in the primary classroom. Passionate about reading for pleasure, she is also a publisher of children’s and YA fiction with a Scottish flavour. Anne lives on the Isle of Lewis and shares her office with two guinea pigs called Wilbur and Melba.
@anneglennie www.thelearningzoo.co.uk email@example.com
Clare Bristow is passionate about nurturing the reader in every child. All practitioners hope that their children will learn to read and become lifelong lovers of books. For her, Early Years is where this adventure begins!
As an experienced Early Years specialist, she has high expectations for young children and a strong belief in what every child is able to achieve through a mixture of high-quality phonics teaching, the sharing of beautiful books and a challenging child-led curriculum.
Formerly an Advanced Skills Teacher and Lead Practitioner specialising in Early Literacy, Clare has worked in Senior Leadership positions across both Early Years and Key Stage 1.
After years of working with children and families, Clare wanted to create a reliable resource which would ‘unlock the jargon’ and help parents to support their children at home. ‘The Phonics Nest’ launched in 2019, providing videos and online games from Nursery to Year 2. Clare also shares practical, play based ideas to bring phonics to life in the classroom on her Phonics Nest social media pages.
Clare currently works as a part time Reception teacher and independent Education Consultant in the south of England. She is also Mum to two energetic children, who keep her smiling (and loading the washing machine) every day!
The Phonics Nest | Facebook
Nearly 20 years in education has enabled me to build a wide range of experience and expertise. Having previously been a Primary School Headteacher, I am able to combine my early literacy expertise and whole school development experience. I am able to do this in a rigorous but supportive manner.
My current role enables me to support early literacy in a wide range of schools across the East Midlands. I am able to support leadership teams to implement change as well as work side by side with practitioners to help further develop practice.
Over thirty years ago, Michelle’s English teacher Miss Stubbs, suggested she joined ‘The Professionals’. She has never looked back. During that time, Michelle taught across a range of primary schools and settings, gaining extensive leadership experience. She was a Literacy Consultant and Team Leader for Stockport, Regional Adviser for Yorkshire and Humberside and a consultant for the Leeds School Improvement Team.
Michelle is an accredited KS1 Moderator, leads a Local Authority team and has delivered training for many years on assessment. She led one of the authority projects for Everybody Writes, a successful DfE, BookTrust and National Literacy Trust partnership initiative.
She is co-author of TELL (Teaching Early Language and Literacy) a DfE approved phonic, spelling and reading targeted support programme for KS1 and LKS2 children. Its positive impact has been felt in many schools, supporting teachers and teaching assistants with a structured pathway for children to ‘catch up and keep up’ and providing children with much needed self confidence and a ‘Can do’ attitude.
Michelle works across the Northwest and Yorkshire supporting schools and organisations to develop and enhance their literacy and leadership. She is passionate about every child learning to read. Michelle is a member of the NAAE.