We have considerable expertise in literacy, working alongside colleagues in the Language and Literacy Research Group.

Our expertise and methods

Current and recent research includes

  • the impact of book gifting initiatives
  • assessing two approaches to reading for pleasure
  • oracy
  • the phonics screening check
  • a set of programmes to improve children's and family literacy

We use a range of methods including

  • reviews of resources
  • surveys of parents and practitioners
  • case studies of schools and nurseries
  • randomised controlled trials (RCTs)

Staff undertaking this research include

  • Professor Cathy Burnett
  • Lucy Clague
  • Karen Daniels
  • Sean Demack
  • Dr Ros Garrick
  • Professor Guy Merchant
  • Anna Stevens
  • Roberta Taylor

Example research projects

  • Process evaluation of the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check Pilot (2011) for Department of Education
  • Evaluation of Booked Up (2011–12) for Booktrust
  • Evaluation of Bookstart (2012–13) for Booktrust
  • Evaluation of Bookstart Corner (2013) for Booktrust
  • Bookbuzz: evidence of best practice (2012–13) for Booktrust
  • Bookgifting: a literature review (2013) for Booktrust
  • Randomised control trial and process evaluation of the Summer Active Transition Programme (2013–14) for Education Endowment Foundation
  • Randomised control trial and process evaluation of the TextNow transition programme (2013–14) for Education Endowment Foundation
  • Evaluation of Beyond Booked Up (2013–14) for Booktrust

Example outputs, impact and public engagement

Key clients include

  • Booktrust
  • Education Endowment Foundation
  • Department for Education

Partners include

  • University of Sheffield
  • Queen's University, Belfast

Our literacy research has led to many wider impacts including

  • making the Booked Up/Bookbuzz book selection more inclusive
  • influencing Booktrust relations with their local and national partners, such as providing refreshed guidance for local Bookstart coordinators
  • contributing towards Booktrust's submission for the Nursery World Awards where they won an award in the Working with Parents category (September 2013)

The results of our RCTs  in relation to Reading for Pleasure will appear later in 2014.

Find out more

Email Anna Stevens at or call 0114 225 4656.

Search our work

Bookgifting Literature Review

The aim of the work was to review the UK and international evidence about bookgifting.The review considered the different forms of bookgifting

Evaluation of the Beyond Booked Up Programme

Evaluation of a targeted programme for secondary schools aimed at supporting reading, writing and the spoken language.The evaluation had three strands: an expert review to assess the resources being used in schools, a teacher...

Reading for Pleasure

There are two projects within the Reading for Pleasure bundle Unitas and Booktrust. The studies use randomised controlled...

Bookstart Programme

Mixed methods study. Review of Bookstart resources, online survey with follow up interviews with stakeholders and development and use of impact tool.Dates: March 2012 - February 2013Funding:

Evaluation of Booked up

Qualitative study, utilising interviews with 40 pupils across 5 schools and focus groups with teachers in 2 of these, to investigate the impact on children's reading enjoyment and engagement.Dates: January 2012 - March...

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