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International Reading Conference 2024

Join our free online event to hear from experts as they discuss best practices and strategies to encourage reading for pleasure, reading for learning, and reading for life.

Are you a senior leader, multi-academy trust leader, teacher, teaching assistant, or librarian? Sign up for the International Reading Conference 2024!

Would you like to hear from thought leaders in education, literacy experts, and EdTech specialists?

Download your digital programme to view the full agenda, session information, how to join, and FAQs – all the information you need for a smooth experience!

About the event
About the organisers
Speakers and host
Digital programme

Reading Solutions UK presents the free online International Reading Conference, which will be held on June 11th, 12th, and 13th.

The conference runs from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm each day. Attendance is FREE for all delegates.

The event is for primary and secondary educators who want to foster confident, lifelong readers through best practices and innovative strategies. 

Uncover how you can:

  • Cultivate a reading culture within your school, academy, or trust.
  • Ensure students continue accelerating their reading growth by feeling motivated and empowered to read.
  • Utilise adaptive technology to develop digital reading strategies for success.
  • Discover innovative approaches to nurture a thriving reading environment.

We’ll soon unveil all the details of our sessions. Stay tuned – you won’t want to miss it!

Click here to register now

Reading Plus is an adaptive, online reading development programme that identifies reading gaps and provides personalised instruction to close them – all while saving teachers time.

Reading Plus supports high-quality teaching.

Guided by the most prominent reading and pedagogical research from the last 30 years, Reading Plus isn’t here to replace books. It is designed to:

  • Develop fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension – bridging the gap between learning-to-read and reading-to-learn.
  • Help KS2-KS4 students become better readers – it has a readability range from Year 2 to Year 11.
  • Expose students to a diverse range of topical content in line with their ability.

Learn more about Reading Plus


  • Baasit Siddiqui – TV personality, Entrepreneur in all things education, and proud Director of Siddiqui Education. 


  • Michael Rosen – Writers and performance poet for children and adults.
  • Tim Rasinski – Professor of Literacy Education.
  • Chloe Butlin – Literacy Content Specialist for Education Endowment Foundation.
  • Christine Chen and Lindsay Pickton – Primary Education Advisors.
  • Elizabeth Rhodes –  National Lead for Student Inclusion at Oasis Community Learning.
  • Gemma Gwilliam – Head of Digital Learning, Education and Innovation at Portsmouth Education Partnership.
  • Kelly Ashley  – Lecturer in Reading for Pleasure at The Open University.
  • Debi Bailey – CEO of NEAT Academy Trust in the North East of England.
  • Sarah Stock – Primary School Improvement Lead across NEAT Academy Trust.
  • Farrah Serroukh – Research and Development Director at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education.
  • Irene Picton -Senior Research Manager for the National Literacy Trust.
  • Heather March – Director of Teaching and Learning at Aim High Academy Trust.
  • Elizabeth Anderson – Chief Executive of the Learning Foundation / Digital Poverty Alliance.
  • Nicki Cleveland – HLTA & School Librarian. 
  • Rebekah Ricketts – Assistant Head – Staff Development | Head of English at Safa British School, Dubai.
  • Olly Lewis – Deputy Head at Amity International School Abu Dhabi. 
  • Ben Rogers -Director of Curriculum and Pedagogy for Paradigm Trust. 

Click here to register for free now

Download your digital programme to view the full agenda, session information, how to join, and FAQs – all the information you need for a smooth experience!


Digital programme


About the host

Baasit Siddiqui

TV personality, Entrepreneur in all things education, Director of Siddiqui Education, and Creator of the National School Competitions ‘Let’s Pitch It’ & ‘Books on the Box’.

Baasit’s journey on the BAFTA and NTA award-winning ‘Gogglebox’ allows him to merge his teaching expertise with his entertainment background to effectively educate, motivate, and foster the development of children across the UK. Much of Baasit’s work forwards his mission of supporting upward mobility in young people. Since 2018, Baasit has also worked closely with the TES Institute, supporting teachers in gaining their QTS qualification.

As an educator, teacher trainer, and business owner, Baasit has developed his skill set and fostered collaborative relationships over shared commitments to supporting disadvantaged students. These collaborations support Baasit in ensuring that his endeavours have a positive, far-reaching impact on the children and young people he supports.



Tuesday 11th of June

9:30am - Christine Chen and Lindsay Pickton

Motivated Readers: Practical ideas for classroom and whole-school practice

Christine Chen and Lindsay Pickton have co-directed Primary Education Advisors since 2015.

In their session, they will explore:

  • The relationship between reading ability and reading for pleasure and purpose.
  • Practical classroom strategies for developing engagement in purposeful reading.
  • Broadening the reading diet.
  • Maximising the social aspects of reading.

Christine Chen is a Senior School Improvement Advisor, and Lindsay Pickton is an independent Primary English Advisor. They each have over two decades of experience supporting schools in the UK and internationally. 

Christine’s specialisms include English, curriculum development, and school-based leadership coaching. Lindsay regularly contributes to Teach Primary magazine and is currently consulting on the development of resources with Oxford University Press and Jolly Learning. Together, they co-author a wide range of Primary teaching resources.

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10:30am - Michael Rosen

Poetry in the classroom: reading, writing, and analysing poems

One of Britain’s best-loved writers and performance poets for children and adults.

Author of “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” Michael Rosen has produced several materials for children and teachers on writing poetry, available through his website, He also writes a monthly news page and blog for teachers.

Michael’s dedication to children’s education is unwavering as he writes a monthly open “letter” to the Secretary of State for Education in The Guardian critiquing Government policy on schools from a parent’s standpoint.

In addition to receiving many awards and honours for his contribution to children’s literature, Michael is an acclaimed BBC Radio 3 and 4 broadcaster and currently a Professor of Children’s Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London.

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11:30am Baasit Siddiqui & Ian Fitzpatrick

A research-based programme to support reading strategies

Director of Siddiqui Education & Managing Director of Reading Solutions UK.

Learn more about the conference organisers and the supporting research and features guiding DreamBox Reading Plus with an overview of how the programme works.

Click here to register now

1:00pm Gemma Gwilliam

Tech Tales: Enhancing Reading for Pleasure in the Digital Age

Head of Digital Learning, Education, and Innovation at Portsmouth Education Partnership.

Gemma is a distinguished technology educator and leader with extensive experience spanning private and state schools globally. Specialising in reducing teacher workload and fostering 21st-century skills in students, she champions accessible technology integration, drawing from her own experience with Dyslexia.

Gemma’s career includes roles from classroom teaching to leadership, exemplifying her passion for enhancing teaching and learning through technology.

This session will unveil a treasure trove of digital resources and interactive platforms designed to enchant young readers and make literacy come alive, including:

  • E-books and audiobooks to storytelling apps and virtual reading buddies, she’ll showcase how technology can transform reading into an adventure that sparks curiosity and creativity.
  • Digital tools and platforms designed to engage and support children of all abilities. From dyslexia-friendly fonts to immersive reading apps and personalised learning platforms, she will show how technology can level the playing field and empower every child to be a confident reader and lifelong learner.


Click here to register now

2:00pm Elizabeth Rhodes

The Oasis DRIVE for literacy strategy: how we secure accelerated reading progress for disadvantaged secondary learners across a national MAT

National Lead for Student Inclusion at

Elizabeth is an experienced and strategic educational leader. She has a passion for inclusion and a strong track record of working in challenging schools to improve outcomes for all pupils – including and especially the most vulnerable. She is a value-driven, collaborative problem solver who has been successful across academic and pastoral aspects of school improvement in high-pressure environments.

This session be looking to answer the questions:

  • What works to secure literacy progress in secondary academies?
  • How can we make disciplinary literacy everyone’s priority?
  • How can we secure accelerated progress for our struggling readers through the use of the graduated response?

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3:00pm Gemma Gwilliam

Tech Tales: Unleashing the Magic of Reading for Key Stage 3 students

Head of Digital Learning, Education, and Innovation at Portsmouth Education Partnership.

Her focus remains on inclusive technology adoption for all citizens, collaborating with educational institutions, businesses, and the community to achieve collective digital advancement.  Gemma aims to drive the city towards national recognition as a “digital city.”

Gemma’s career includes roles from classroom teaching to leadership, exemplifying her passion for enhancing teaching and learning through technology.

This session will cover:

  • The importance of fostering a love for reading transcends traditional boundaries and explore how technology can revolutionise reading instruction and empower students to become lifelong readers.
  • The endless possibilities technology offers to enhance the reading experience for students including interactive e-books, digital libraries, immersive storytelling platforms, and virtual author visits.
  • Strategies for supporting students with diverse learning needs, including those with dyslexia.

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4:00pm Chloe Butlin

Demystifying disciplinary literacy

Literacy Content Specialist for the Education Endowment Foundation.

Chloe is an experienced secondary English teacher and literacy lead based in Yorkshire, who is currently on secondment with the EEF as a literacy content specialist. She is passionate about the platform this affords her in supporting the interplay between teaching and leading in schools and the use of research evidence.

Chloe has a particular interest in disciplinary literacy and improving literacy across the curriculum. Disciplinary literacy recognises that literacy skills are both general and subject-specific, emphasising the value of supporting teachers in every subject to teach students how to read, write and communicate effectively in their subjects.

This session will cover:

  • An introduction to disciplinary literacy.
  • Practical exemplification of what disciplinary literacy might look like across the curriculum.
  • Suggestions for how teachers and leaders can implement a disciplinary literacy approach to school improvement.

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Wednesday 12th of June

9:30 Baasit Siddiqui & Ian Fitzpatrick

Choice, control, and reading for pleasure

Director of Siddiqui Education & Managing Director of Reading Solutions UK.

Improving children’s life chances through reading, the key to reading motivation through choice and control, and how DreamBox Reading Plus benefits students of all reading levels.

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10:30am Kelly Ashley

RfP Architecture: Brick by Brick – How do we ‘construct’ and sustain reading cultures in school?

@kashleyenglish – Lecturer in Reading for Pleasure at The Open University 

This session will playfully explore strategies for crafting learner-led reading cultures, touching upon:

  • What elements can we ‘build’ upon to forge reader volition and agency in upper primary and KS3?
  • How do we ensure authenticity as we ‘assemble’ our approach to RfP?

With 25 years of experience in the US and the UK, Kelly has worked as a Teacher, Senior Leader, Professional Development Facilitator, Coach, Lecturer, and Author.

She enjoys her work with The Open University RfP team as a programme facilitator and mentor for the Primary and KS3 Reading Schools Programmes. She also supports wider RfP development by co-ordinating the 110+ Teacher Reading Groups across the UK and abroad and undertaking research related to pupils’ reading engagement.


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11:30am Farrah Serroukh

Reflecting Realities in the Book Corner

Research and Development Director at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education.

Farrah is an experienced teacher who has taught across the primary school age range. She held several leadership posts in areas including Literacy, EAL, EMA, and Inclusion. She has always been a passionate advocate of every child’s right to access high quality literature and experience the best education possible.

Farrah’s talk will focus on:

  • The CLPE’s annual Reflecting Realities Survey, which examines the extent and quality of ethnic representation in children’s literature. Conference delegates will have the opportunity to learn more about the findings, and to think about the potential implications of the headline figures on classroom book stock and children’s reader and writer identities.
  • Conference attendees will have the opportunity to reflect on key considerations for curating high-quality inclusive literature for the benefit of the young learners in their care.

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1:00pm Debi Bailey and Sarah Stock

Developing your primary reading strategy

Debi Bailey is the CEO of NEAT Academy Trust in the North East of England.

Debi has over 25 years of teaching experience, including being head of a large inner-city primary school, an Ofsted Inspector, and a Literacy Consultant. She passionately believes that a good education is the key to unlocking potential and is at the heart of the trust drive to provide a world-class education to all young people.

Sarah Stock is a Primary School Improvement Lead across NEAT and is currently the Director of Newcastle Research School.

Sarah has over 25 years of teaching and senior leadership experience. She is committed to supporting and developing teaching and learning to improve outcomes for all. As Director of Newcastle Research School, she works with various partners across the region to highlight the use of evidence to support school improvement.

In their session, they will discuss:

  • Using school-based evidence to evaluate success and next steps.
  • Using a tiered approach to further develop your school reading strategy.
  • Using an evidence-informed approach to professional development.
  • Evaluating the impact of a reading strategy to support ongoing developments.

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2:00pm Irene Picton

Reflections from a decade of digital reading research

Irene Picton is a Senior Research Manager at the National Literacy Trust.

She is a qualified, experienced Project and Research Manager with many years of practice delivering training to professionals, enabling them to run educational programmes reaching tens of thousands of children.

She has co-authored studies for the National Literacy Trust, such as:

  • “Reading in secondary students: What do we know?”
  • “Children and young people’s reading in 2020 before and during the COVID-19 lockdown”
  • “Improving the literacy skills of disadvantaged teenage boys through the use of technology”
  • “Children, young people and digital reading”

In this session, Irene will share research insights and reflections from her own and others’ research exploring reading digitally across all age groups, touching on everything from literacy apps to ebooks, fake news, video game playing and critical digital literacy, ending with a brief look ahead to how all this will inform forthcoming work on the impact of generative AI.

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3:00pm Tim Rasinski

Teaching Reading Fluency: The often neglected and misunderstood key to reading success.

Top 2% of Scientists in the world, Author, and Professor of Reading Education, Kent State University, USA.

Timothy Rasinski is professor emeritus of literacy education at Kent State University and former director of its award-winning reading clinic. He has written over 200 articles and has authored, co-authored or edited over 50 books or curriculum programs on reading education. His scholarly interests include reading fluency and word study, reading in the elementary and middle grades, and readers who struggle.

From this session, attendees will:

  • Be presented with a complete definition of reading fluency.
  • Learn about the essential science-based tools for teaching fluency.
  • Learn how fluency can be taught in artful as well as scientific ways.
  • Be presented with evidence of the effectiveness of reading fluency instruction for improving overall reading achievement

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4:00pm Tim Rasinski

Word Study that Works:  Science-Based and Engaging Approaches to Phonics and Vocabulary Instruction

Word decoding, vocabulary, and spelling are essential skills in learning to read at every grade level.  Students who struggle in reading and other content areas often do so because of difficulty in word decoding and understanding the meaning of key vocabulary.

In this session, Dr. Rasinski will share effective and engaging methods for helping students master words and delight in the study of words.

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Thursday 13th of June

9:30 am Andrew Tidswell and Ian Rockey

Supporting Reading Confidence and Fluency Using Digital Resources.

This session will explore ways in which digital skills, tools and pedagogies can impact on reading, including how:

  • Digital tools can be used effectively to enhance engagement.
  • Adaptive learning tools can provide individualised support.
  • Immersive technology can inspire reading.

Andrew is the Director of Professional Development at Discovery Education. He is responsible for leading the creation and implementation of all the Professional Development provided by Discovery Education, outside of the US. This includes national Government contracts, such as in Egypt where DE have trained over 200,000 teachers to implement the new National Curriculum over the last 6 years. It also encompasses supporting global Channel Partners and schools who use DE’s suite of digital products, through conference speaking, thought leadership, webinars, and face-to-face PD sessions.

Previously, Andrew was a freelance consultant and trainer for 12 years, supporting teachers and schools around the UK and overseas, across a range of specialisms including: interactive technology, digital media, coding, STEM and Primary Maths. He began his career as a teacher and senior leader in three primary and middle schools in Leeds. He is chair of Governors at Carr Manor Community School and a Trustee of the Leeds Learning Alliance.

10:30 am Rebekah Ricketts

Implementing strategies to support reading and literacy across the curriculum.

Assistant Head – Staff Development | Head of English at Safa British School, Dubai

Reading has always been a huge passion of Rebekah’s. From a young age, she would always hide books and a torch under her pillow and, going on holiday; her suitcase would always be stuffed with a travelling library. She always took for granted that reading was a skill that unlocked whole other worlds – until she became a teacher.

Since working with children and hearing ‘I don’t like reading’, it has become Rebekah’s passion to help young people break down the barriers to their learning by finding ways to build confidence, and ultimately, the love of reading. Her mantra is: ‘if you don’t like reading, you just haven’t fallen in love with the right book… yet!’

Rebekah has worked in Dubai for six years, as a Head of English and now Assistant Headteacher, focusing on teaching and learning. Reading underpins everything that they do at her school, and they are growing a culture that encourages passionate readers who can confidently access their curriculum. When she is not at school, or reading, she is probably on a plane, having her next adventure. Top of her travel list is currently Bali, although she did recently discover her new favourite bookshop in the world in Venice which is going to take some beating!

Her session will cover:

  • Building a strong reading culture in a school.
  • Supporting lower ability, EAL and G&T readers.
  • Moving beyond reading and developing oracy skills.

Click here to register

11:30am Nicki Cleveland

Love your Library to Boost a Love of Reading

High-Level Teaching Assistant and School Librarian.

During her session, Nicki will discuss:

  • The importance of school libraries.
  • Easy ways to inspire young readers in school.
  • Easy ways to support families in encouraging reading at home.

Nicki has led the charge in developing a rich reading culture in school, with limited time and resources. She believes if you want children to read for pleasure, you need to show them why they should.

A prolific reader of children’s books, Nicki showcases books in school and on the school website. She also reviews for publishers, The School Librarian, and runs her own book blog too. She was named on the School Librarian of The Year Honours List and was Highly Commended as School Reading Champion in the Open University RfP Awards.

Click here to register now

12:30pm Baasit Siddiqui & Ian Fitzpatrick

Maximising cross-curricular reading

Director of Siddiqui Education & Managing Director of Reading Solutions UK.

How developing reading improves cross-curricular attainment and enhances secondary students’ learning, examining DreamBox Reading Plus as a tool for closing the gap through tailored instruction.

1:00pm Heather March

Building an Effective Primary Reading Curriculum

Director of Teaching and Learning at Aim High Academy Trust.

Her session will cover: 

  • Strategies for progression in reading from EYFS to Y6.
  • The impact of whole-class reading lessons, using quality texts and extracts, and the importance of developing oracy skills.
  • Developing a classroom culture of reading for pleasure.
  • Closing the gap: how to support children working below age-related expectations.

Heather March has over 23 years of experience in education, starting as a KS2 Teacher and English Lead, to Assistant Headteacher at Dubmire Primary Academy, and now becoming Director of Teaching and Learning for the Trust.

Heather builds collaboration across her Trust to enhance teaching standards, working alongside other school leaders to identify priority areas and implement key actions to drive improvement. She has continuously highlighted the importance of literacy at the heart of an effective Curriculum and has championed several initiatives to instil a love of reading in students and educators.

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2:00pm Olly Lewis

EdTech Tales: Building Fluency in the Digital Age

Deputy Head at Amity International School Abu Dhabi.

In this session, Olly will cover the 5 C’s of digital cognition, how educational technology can be harnessed to support teaching and learning, reduce workload, and how AI can improve learning outcomes.

Olly Lewis is an international senior leader and is recognised as having a broad set of skills and experiences, with his mindful and strategic approaches to working in a variety of roles across his career. Reinforcing the impact of his work, he’s a multiple GESS Award winner, GESS Awards Judge and Global EdTech Judge, ISC Research Edruptor, Microsoft Fellow, MIEExpert, and Founding Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching.

You can find out more about Olly and his work by visiting, on LinkedIn he’s @OllyLewis and you can follow Olly on X @OLewis_coaching and delve into “The EdTech Playbook” at

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3:00pm Elizabeth Anderson

Ending digital poverty here in the UK

CEO of the Digital Poverty Alliance, which aims to end digital poverty in the UK once and for all by 2030.

Leading the DPA programmatic and operational team, she focuses on advocacy, community building and delivery work, talking to schools, industry partners, government leads, local authorities and other charities. Elizabeth’s career has been focussed almost exclusively in the non profit sector, working in areas including education, disadvantage and healthcare, focussing on strategic development, governance and stakeholder engagement to create social change.

Her session will provide an understanding of digital poverty and the part they can play in supporting those who cannot get online when they need to. We’ll tackle assumptions and myths and talk about practical ways for educators, parents and others working with children to help.

It will answer the questions:

  • What is digital poverty?
  • What is being done to reduce rates of digital poverty in the UK?
  • How can you help?


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4:00pm Ben Rogers

Science Specific Reading – the Joys, Power and Challenges of Reading Science Specific Texts.

Director of Curriculum and Pedagogy at Paradigm Trust.
From this session, attendees will be better equipped to champion the importance of reading scientific texts and some suggested strategies to support readers develop the skills.

Ben has been a teacher since 1995. He taught secondary physics and science for 18 years before moving to primary in 2013. Since 2018 he has worked as Director of Curriculum and Pedagogy for Paradigm Trust.

Ben’s expertise in physics and his interest in how people learn to read and in cognitive science has led him to develop materials and resources on science-specific reading – the challenges and the opportunities.

Ben was on the steering panel for the EEFs Primary Science report and OFSTEDs Science Advisory Group and has authored “The Big Ideas in Physics and How to Teach Them,” and “Primary Science in a Nutshell” with Professor Leigh Hoath.

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