Longlists and new co-sponsors announced for the 2016 UKLA Book Awards

Monday, September 28, 2015

Teacher judges have enthusiastically signed up for their own reading challenge for 2016! The unique UKLA Book Awards are the only awards judged by active classroom teachers and 77 of them have been selected from schools in Bristol and the Midlands.

There are 3 or 4 groups of judges for each age category and they have until March to read the longlisted books, discuss them with their group leaders, and share them with pupils. All groups will then meet together for the difficult task of choosing their shortlist of 6 books in each category.

Teachers welcomed the opportunity to widen their knowledge of recent children’s titles.  For UKLA, giving classroom practitioners the opportunity to read a number of new children’s books is as important as finding an overall winner. Research carried out by members of UKLA (Cremin et al 2008) clearly demonstrated the links between teachers’ knowledge of children’s books and the likelihood of pupils becoming successful readers. Despite this evidence, teachers are seldom given time to read new books or funding to purchase them when they do.

 UKLA are proud to announce new sponsors to add to the valued support they have received from MLS for the past 5 years and which will help the awards to continue to grow. New co-sponsors, Lovereading4schools and Lovereading4kids, recognised the value of the judging experience for schools and teachers:

‘Lovereading4schools and its sister site Lovereading4kids is very excited and proud to be a co-sponsor of the UKLA Book Awards 2016. The way UKLA work with schools and pupils complements Lovereading’s approach of using book experts and children reviewers to provide good, trusted guidance for teachers and parents that can be hard to find. We are looking forward to sharing the longlisted, shortlisted and winning books with all the parents and schools who use our websites.’ Peter Crawshaw – Co-Founder and Director of Lovereading Ltd 

The UKLA Selection Panel, chaired by Lynda Graham, whittled down the 320 publisher submissions to arrive at a set of longlists which once again feature books in translation, exciting debut authors as well as established and familiar names. For the first time each category includes nonfiction titles, which Lynda Graham says:  “indicates a welcome renaissance in  top quality, innovative nonfiction publishing” But all of the books, whether fiction or nonfiction, novels or picture books exemplify the award criteria of writing which offers language rich in layered meanings, imaginative expression and exciting vocabulary. Where present, high quality illustration is also an important feature of the chosen texts.

You can download the longlist below.


2016 UKLA Book Awards Longlist

UKLA Website Management and General Administrator Vacancy

Thursday, September 17, 2015

We have a vacancy for a Website and General Administrator to cover maternity leave for 7 months.

You can download the Job Description and Application Form below.

Please note we cannot accept CVs as applications.

Deadline for applications is Friday 2 October 2015.

Maternity Leave Cover Website and General Admin Job Specification

Maternity Leave Cover Website and General Admin Application Form

Further Government Expenditure on the Phonics Check by Margaret Clark

Friday, September 11, 2015

Further Government Expenditure on the Phonics Check: why, with the available evidence?

By Margaret M Clark OBE

In Synthetic Phonics and Literacy Learning: an evidence-based critique (Clark, 2014) I considered the evidence for the Government’s policy of synthetic phonics, claims for it as the best method of teaching reading and the results

of the phonics check. In two recent articles in the Education Journal (17 March 2015: 15-18 and 13 July: 16-19) I updated the information and noted a number of government initiatives proposed by Schools Minister Nick Gibb concerning further expenditure on the phonics check, one made before and one since the election of the Conservative Government in May. I have not yet been able to establish thedetailed plans for, or costs of, the opt-in pilot study in 300 schools to extend the check to children in Year 3 who failed the check in Year 2. I understand schools will sign up in the new academic year.

However, further details were released on 14 July about the funding initiative by DfE to schools that excel in phonics teaching to become partners. The selected schools would each receive a grant of £10,000. The names of the eight selected schools to receive the grants “to help them spread their expertise to other schools” were announced in the Press Release under the title: New £10,000 grants to continue drive to eliminate illiteracy.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “To ensure as many young people as possible develop a strong grasp of reading early on the grants of £10,000 will be made available to 8 groups of schools, led by top-performing primaries. The money will be used by groups of schools to develop models to improve phonics teaching that have potential to work for other schools.

It is claimed in the Press Release that: “Achieving the expected standard in the phonics check is a strong indicator of a pupil’s performance in wider reading assessments.” I am concerned at the continuing claims by the Government that there is evidence of the effectiveness of the phonics check in improving reading attainment. The percentage pass rate on the check may have increased each year.

However, NFER was funded by DfE for a three year research into the effects of the phonics check and its cost effectiveness. In my recent article on 13 July I made an evaluation of the results in the final report and in earlier articles I made reference to the findings in the two interim reports. To quote: “The evaluation did not find any evidence of improvements in pupils` literacy performance, or in progress, that could be clearly attributed to the introduction of the PSC” (p17 of my article and p.8 of NFER report). In his recent NFER Blog, The truth about the Phonics Screening Check, Matt Walker, senior researcher in the NFER government-funded research makes similar statements. In spite of the evidence, including from the NFER research actually funded by DfE, Nick Gibb continues to make the claims he has been making for years. The Government not only continues to spend money on the check, but also on related expensive initiatives, including this new initiative costing £80,000.


We are grateful to Demitri Coryton of the Education Journal for allowing us to reproduce this article featured in Issue 241 of the Education Journal for our members.

UKLA Book Award Winners 2015

Friday, July 10, 2015

UKLA Book Award Winners 2015: Impact, originality and illustration are key to teachers' winners

The unique UKLA Book Awards are the only awards judged entirely by teachers. Their choice of winning books which can “enhance all aspects of literacy learning” clearly demonstrates the fresh perspective that class teachers bring to the judging process.   They are able to share the books with their classes and genuinely discover what works with young readers. As well as endorsing the popular appeal of Red House winner, The Day the Crayons Quit they have selected an international author not previously recognised in the UK, a debut author not afraid of difficult topics and echoed the new Children’s Laureate in his emphasis on the importance of illustrated books in creating reading enthusiasm.

David Reedy, President of UKLA said ‘We know that literature broadens the reader’s experience of the world and sense of the possible and thus should have a central place in classrooms and educational contexts. Children need access to a rich range of high quality literature and our awards highlight some of the very best literature currently available to children and young people in the UK.  We are proud to be celebrating these truly outstanding winners at our 51st International Conference ‘

The Award winners for the book categories 3 to 6, 7 to11 and 12 to16+ years will be announced and presented at a wine reception at the UKLA International Conference at the National College for Teaching and Leadership, Nottingham on July 10th 2015

The winning book in the 12 to16+ category is Every Day by David Levithan, published by Egmont.

Every day, A wakes up in a new body and has to live that person’s life doing no harm to the host. However, when A falls in love, lives are changed and hosts become aware of what is happening to them. This is a highly original book which is handled with real integrity. Levithan offers readers glimpses of some of the quandaries of teenage life, but never offers superficial answers. Teacher judges described Every Day as ‘a brilliant and important book’.


The winning book in the 7 to 11  category is Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre, published by Oxford University Press

Judges loved Oliver and the Seawigs because it truly ‘captures the joy of reading.’ When Oliver’s parents go missing, he searches for them, gradually gathering an eccentric group of new friends including a wandering isle called Cliff.  Though the combination of words and pictures make Oliver and the Seawigs a perfect book for children who have developed little stamina as readers, it has been written and illustrated with such wit and so many highly original ideas that, as one of the judges said, ‘it reaches out to everyone.’

For the first time ever the judges also presented a Highly Commended 7-11 Award to

Us Minus Mum by Heather Butler, published by Little,Brown

Us Minus Mum is, as you’d expect from the title, a book about bereavement. The story follows George’s mum from her diagnosis to her death. What makes it a ‘brilliant, brilliant book’ is that Heather Butler creates a very happy, completely believable family who mourn mum, but honour her life through happiness as well as sorrow. There isn’t a shred of sentimentality in this ‘honest, powerful and insightful novel.’


The winning book for the 3 to 6 category is The Day the Crayons Quit written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, published by HarperCollins

Fed up with the way they are misused, Duncan’s crayons each write him a letter of complaint. The Day the Crayons Quit is a very funny book which encourages children to be adventurous and creative. Like all the very best picture books, there is plenty here to delight adults as well as children. The theme of our responsibility for the happiness of others is explored in remarkable ways. As one of the judges said: ‘I don’t know how you could do more in so few words and so few pages.’ 

For further information and to request an interview with the shortlisted authors and illustrators, or for images, please contact fao Lynda Graham awards@ukla.org

Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap Safari app by Nosy Crow wins the UKLA Best Digital Book Award 2015.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap Safari app by Nosy Crow wins the UKLA Best Digital Book Award 2015.

UKLA is delighted to announce that the winner of the pilot UKLA Digital Book Award (in partnership with Book Trust, and sponsored by The Open University) is the app, Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap Safari, published by Nosy Crow.

This award, covering apps suitable for the 6-8 year age group, is the only national Digital Book Award judged by teachers.  

The Flip Flap Safari app is beautifully produced and appealing and can easily be incorporated into guided reading sessions. Children have great fun creating their own animals and playing guessing games and the ‘read to me’ feature is a useful tool enabling all children to enjoy the book. Teacher judges appreciated the rich vocabulary and thought the poetry examples inspired further poetry activities in class.

Dr Natalia Kucirkova, Chair of the Digital Book Award, commented: ‘There are many apps for this age group which either replicate non-digital activities or provide an add-on experience. The choice of Flip Flap Safari as the winner shows that teachers appreciate when digital books can integrate and complement current best practice.’

Book Trust, Chief Executive, Diana Gerald said: ‘It’s time to start looking at apps and digital reading materials with the same critical eye that we use to appraise children’s reading books. We’re still looking at how best this can be done, but getting teachers-the experts on the ground-to assess these apps after using them with children in a classroom, has to be a really good starting point. Congratulations to Axel Scheffler, Flip Flap Safari is a worthy and engaging winner.’

In addition, the app Dino Tales by Kuato Studios is Highly Commended. Digitalisation offers an innovative way to enrich children’s experience of story by combining games with digital books. Dino Tales crosses into the territory of non-fiction, and teaches a range of digital skills in addition to traditional literacy. It takes aspects of game and yet keeps a strong storyline, with advanced customisation options. The children loved the app and could engage with it for extended periods of time.

For more information on the award please contact awards@ukla.org

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Carrie Ansell
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