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World-leading researchers in the science of reading, Kate Nation and collaborators, Kathy Rastle and Anne Castles, have been awarded this year's prestigious ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize.

Kate Nation wearing a black dress standing in front of a stone wall.

Congratulations are in order for Kate Nation – along with collaborators Kathy Rastle (RHUL) and Anne Castles (Macquarie University, Sydney) – for being awarded the prestigious ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize. Now in its eighth year, this is an annual award that recognises and celebrates the success of ESRC-funded researchers in achieving and enabling outstanding economic or societal impact from excellent research. All finalists have been invited to attend a virtual awards ceremony to hear the winners announced on 12 November 2020.

Kate Nation said, 

Kathy, Anne and I are delighted to win this prize. There are few things in a child's education as vital learning to read. Over the years it’s been both a pleasure and an education to build partnerships with teachers – the people charged with the vital job of teaching our children to read. We are grateful for their wisdom and support, and thanks too to the ESRC for funding our basic research and helping us build and celebrate its impact.  

The team's work focuses on bringing the science of reading to how children are taught to read in classrooms around the world. Their work, which is far reaching and highly impactful, is based on their paper Ending the Reading Wars: Reading Acquisition From Novice to Expert.

In this paper, they set out to close the wide gap between the state of research knowledge about learning to read, and the state of public understanding, with an aim to transforming educational policy and teaching methods. The authors call for an end to the reading wars (around education and policy) and recommend an agenda for instruction and research in reading acquisition that is balanced, developmentally informed, and based on a deep understanding of how language and writing systems work.

Reflecting on the 'Reading Wars' paper Kate said:

Reviewing such a vast literature was a challenge but we are delighted that we succeeded in our aim to distal and communicate key information without losing sight of complexity and detail. Anne, Kathy and I have learned a huge amount by engaging with colleagues in the education sector and by all working together, we have developed and shared a knowledge base about how children learn to read. This is supporting teacher education and professional development in the UK and beyond, all with the ultimate aim of making sure that every child learns to read effectively and comprehensively.

Find out more

Watch the video about their work

Times Educational Supplement article "Ceasefire in the reading wars" by Kate Nation, Kathleen Rastle and Anne Castles.