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How can we support truly inclusive practice in Literacy?

You may be familiar with our podcast series, 'The Included Conversation,' which is now in its second season.

We have been so excited to interview and question many experts on subjects related to inclusion.

Just in case you have missed any of them, here is a link to the individual episodes in season 1

Episode 1 - Pedagogy and Inclusive Practice with Dr Fiona Aubrey Smith

Episode 2 - Inclusive Approaches to Literacy with Dr Sarah Moseley

Episode 3 - Inclusive Practice for Everyday Teaching and Learning with Dame Professor Alison Peacock 

Episode 4 - Developing Inclusive Approaches across BESA Members with Caroline Wright

Episode 5 - Building inclusive school communities - with Whitefield and Flakefleet Primary Schools

Episode 6 - Immersive Approaches to Inclusive Learning with Discovery Education 

Episode 7 - The Appear Network with Jo Dilworth

Episode 8 - Listening Books and inclusive approaches to reading 

Episode 9 - Inclusion and the role of audio with Now Press Play                                                  

We are now in season 2 and Episode 1 was with the eloquent and fascinating Paddy McGrath Head of Education Strategy (EMEA) at Text Help and we have just published Episode 2 with passionate and engaging Julia Clouter Global Head of Education at Scanning Pens entitled 'The Literacy Box and other inclusive approaches to Literacy'.

In this episode, amongst other discussions around inclusion, Universal Design for Learning,  and pedagogy, we learned all about this simple but very effective toolbox approach for supporting all pupils in the classroom to be able to develop their individual learning approaches and support needs. 

What is a Literacy toolbox? 

Put simply, a Literacy toolbox (and it should be stressed that ultimately, the box can be used not just to support literacy)  is a physical box that holds resources, devices, equipment, and even written notes and ideas for pupils to be able to select from, on an individual need in the classroom.

So if a child needed a coloured overlay to aid their reading of a text or a microphone to record their ideas orally, the box was the place to find and use this support opportunity. 

Here is Julia explaining what is in the box and its origins from her classroom 'Boom Box'



The obvious advantage of a physical box as an everyday part of classroom equipment was fascinating for us to discuss. 

Pupils could self-select the tool or device required for that particular activity or project. Self-selection and choice by pupils are key, as we all know if a tool or support resource is actively given to a child, specifically by the classroom teacher (the teacher deciding it's what they need), then the pupil is less likely to use it. If pupils select what they feel will benefit their learning, they are more likely to use it and thus gain success and confidence.  Pupils making their own decisions about what they use and how they use it empowers and removes barriers to learning.                       

How did the toolbox develop over time? 

Interestingly, the Literacy toolbox has developed and evolved with the influx of support opportunities and new devices on the market to support an inclusive classroom.

In addition to the actual kit and physical tools, the box can now include hints and tips to encourage pupils to try something new or discover a different approach. 

What about the box containing cards and help guides, such as 

  • 'why don't you try using the Immersive Reader to help you understand a tricky text?
  • 'why not try to record your comprehension long answers onto a microphone so you can be sure what to write?'
  • 'Use the j2e mini guide to remind you how to access JIT to create an animation.'

Or the box could contain QR codes linking a pupil directly to a specific site, platform or resource.

Watch this video to see how Lawford School in Essex uses miniguides and QR codes to support pupil access to their learning. 


Further development of this mini-guide idea was that pupils could create mini-guides and support ideas for their classmates. Empowering a pupil who has grasped how to use a new tool, device, or technique to go on and then create a guide themselves to help another user and for this to be included in the box extends not only the content available for all to access but puts that individual child at the centre of their learning development.

Something to be welcomed, encouraged and celebrated.

Let the pupil be the expert.

If you are interested in learning more about the Literacy box and other inclusive approaches, or any of our other podcasts past and present then please subscribe to 'The Included Conversation' on the platform of your choice here

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