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The winners of the inaugural Egmont Reading for Pleasure Teacher Awards, in association with the Open University and the UK Literacy Association (UKLA), were announced in London today, at the UKLA/BERA/OU Research Symposium 2018.

The awards were launched following extensive research into reading for pleasure by Egmont and the OU and UKLA. Together these studies suggest teachers have limited awareness of children’s literature beyond the tried and tested classics, and lack a coherent reading for pleasure teaching strategy.

Curriculum pressures and an emphasis on testing detracts from their abilities to dedicate time and space for this which in turn has a direct knock-on effect on children’s development as readers.

The aim of the Egmont Reading for Pleasure Teacher Awards is to demonstrate the positive impact that reading for pleasure can have on all aspects of a child’s life. By recognising and celebrating teachers who are currently putting reading for pleasure at the heart of their classrooms, it is hoped the award will serve to inspire others to use similar practices in the future.

The final submissions were judged by a panel of experts including Michael Rosen (Professor of Children’s Literature / Educational Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London), Teresa Cremin (Professor of Education Literacy), David Reedy (General Secretary, UKLA), Joy Court (Chair: CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals,), Cally Poplak (Managing Director, Egmont) and Alison David (Consumer Insight Director, Egmont).

Alison David said: “We were so impressed with the creative, innovative and entertaining ideas that were demonstrated in the submissions. The interesting thing about reading for pleasure is that you can’t teach it! It is not a set of skills to acquire. Teaching reading is teaching literacy, it’s incredibly important, but not to be confused with helping children establish a lifelong love of reading, simply for the pure joy of it. However, reading for pleasure can be shared, modelled, and encouraged. These amazing teachers and schools, with their inspirational research-informed ideas, understand that.”

Emily Crumbleholme from Peover Superior Primary School, Knutsford won the Early Career Teacher category, which recognises the work of teachers who are still in the early stages of their career. By creating a relaxed environment within the classroom and ensuring dedicated reading time, Emily encourages her pupils to discuss books, and focus on their current interests as well as reaching out to engage parents.

Jon Biddle from Moorlands Primary Academy, Belton, Norfolk won the Experienced Teacher category, for teachers who have been in the role for over three years. Jon has established a ‘book buddy’ system, specifically designed for helping children who need extra assistance with their reading. The system utilised teachers, pupils, support and office staff, so creating a reading community.

St Matthew’s C of E Primary School in Birmingham won the Whole School Award, in recognition of coherent school-wide initiatives to dedicate time and space to reading for pleasure in every classroom with staff and students.

Each category winner receives an individual award, Egmont books to the value of £250 for their school and 20 copies of Help Your Child Love Reading by Alison David.

“We know that teachers are under immense pressure to deliver results, and can find it challenging to make time within the curriculum for fostering reading for pleasure. But the social, emotional and cognitive benefits of reading for pleasure are unquestionable,” said Teresa Cremin, Professor of Education at the Open University. “Our winners are clearly building reciprocal reading communities and documenting the impact of these within and beyond the classroom. We are delighted to be able to recognise this publicly through the award.”

The winning three entries, along with six highly commended entries, will be available to view on The Open University’s Research Rich Pedagogies website.

Submissions for the 2019 Egmont Reading for Pleasure Teacher Awards will be open from October 2018.

About the Open University

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 2 million students worldwide. There are over 170,000 current students, including more than 15,000 overseas.

In the latest research assessment exercise (Research Excellence Framework, 2014), nearly three quarters (72%) of OU research was assessed as 4 or 3 star – the highest ratings available, awarded to research that is world-leading or internationally excellent. The OU is unique among UK universities having both an access mission and demonstrating research excellence.

Regarded as the UK’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units, as well as games, videos and academic articles, which have reached over 36 million people.

About the UKLA

UKLA is a registered charity, which has as its sole object the advancement of education in literacy.

The UKLA is committed to promoting evidence informed effective practice nationally and internationally in literacy and language teaching and research. The Association was founded in 1963 as the United Kingdom Reading Association. In 2003 it changed its name to the United Kingdom Literacy Association, to reflect more accurately its wider range of concerns.