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The Inspirational Power of Words

A Cornerstone English Hub Conference 2021

We invite you to join us for our virtual English conference on 31st March, 9:00am - 4:00pm.

We live in a world that is built on and held together by words. They help us to discover new information and imagine new worlds, they underpin human creativity and provide us with the building block of rational thought. When we help children to learn new words and to love using them, we empower them for life and open up the joy of a good book or a good conversation. Therefore, Cornerstone English Hub invites you to an online conference the goal of which is to inspire educators in the task of encouraging children to love words.

Our line-up is headlined by Sir Michael Morpurgo, former children's laureate, and author of over 130 beloved children's books. His books have made it onto the cinema screen and theatre stage and are much loved across the world. He will be speaking on his work crafting stories with words and how teachers can inspire children to love books and the worlds that they create.

The event will be free and virtual, held on Microsoft Teams. We would love for you to join us - catch up on the conference here

How the day is organised

The day will be composed of keynote speakers, panel discussions and a wide range of breakout sessions, into these five main strands:

 Becoming Bookworms: Immersing children texts so that they become avid readers.

 Building Blocks: Helping children to appreciate and learn new words.

 Brilliant Beginnings: Ensuring the basics of teaching reading are done well.

 Delivering Digitally: Making technology work for your English teaching.

 Helping Hands: Supporting pupils for whom learning to read proves challenging.

Each strand comprises of a selection of topic related sessions, you can browse these sessions by viewing the agenda further down this page.

Help us spread the word

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Meet our line-up

Scroll right to browse our current line-up

  • Michael Morpurgo
  • Nick Gibb, MP
  • Jenni MacDuff
  • Aaron Leary
  • Janine Ashman
  • Sally-Anne Taylor
  • Bronnie Williams
  • Hannah Lyons
  • Michael Morpurgo

    Award Winning Children's Autor

    Michael Morpurgo began writing stories in the early ‘70s, in response to the children in his class at the primary school where he taught in Kent. One of the UK’s best-loved authors and storytellers, Michael was appointed Children’s Laureate in 2003. He has written over 130 books, including The Butterfly Lion, Kensuke’s Kingdom, Why the Whales Come, The Mozart Question, Shadow, and War Horse, which was adapted for a hugely successful stage production by the National Theatre and then, in 2011, for a film directed by Steven Spielberg. His book Private Peaceful has been adapted for the stage by Simon Reade and made into a film directed by Pat O’Connor. Running Wild was adapted for the stage by Samuel Adamson and premiered by Chichester Festival Youth Theatre in 2015, winning the UK Theatre Award for Best Show for Children and Young People, and was later produced at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and on a UK tour.

  • Nick Gibb, MP

    Minister of State for School Standards

    He served as Shadow Minister for Schools from 2005 until 2010, and as Minister of State for Schools from May 2010 until September 2012.

  • Jenni MacDuff

    Curriculum Policy Lead, DfE
    Jenni has worked in education for 25 years, originally as an English and drama teacher (KS3-5). After teaching, she moved to the charitable sector to focus on education for the most vulnerable and hard to reach. She spent five years working for a local authority, first in the Early Years Service, delivering on the childcare strategy and then in quality assurance and contract management.

    Most recently Jenni took on the role of Head of Children and Young People for a National Children’s charity, developing services to improve outcomes in areas of disadvantage. Jenni is passionate about the transformative power of education and has extensive experience of supporting organisations to develop values-based leadership and change management

  • Aaron Leary

    Teacher and Founder of Bedrock Vocabulary

    As a teacher in busy London schools, Aaron saw that whilst all teachers certainly understood the benefits of a wide vocabulary, the pressures of school life often meant that vocabulary teaching in classrooms was neither frequent nor consistent. He went on to co-found Bedrock Vocabulary to respond to this challenge.

  • Janine Ashman

    Unlocking Excellence English Hub Lead

    Janine Ashman is the lead of Unlocking Excellence English Hub, which uses Letters and Sounds as its phonics programme. In her role, she works closely with the hub’s partner schools of varying programmes.

  • Sally-Anne Taylor

  • Bronnie Williams

  • Hannah Lyons

    Cornerstone English Hub Literacy Specialist

    Hannah is an experienced KS1 teacher who has helped ensure a high standard of phonics teaching is maintained across a growing multi-academy trust. She has a passion for influencing the lives of children and giving every child the best possible start to their reading journey. Recently, taking on the role of KS1 phase lead, she has led by example, setting high standards and modelling phonics teaching to colleagues as well as at English Hub showcase events. Hannah is also passionate about supporting teachers, empowering them to use all available tools to ensure best outcomes for children. She leads regular training sessions and supports teachers to assess and group children effectively.


Browse the Agenda for the day 












Helping Hands

Welcome, introduction and overview of the day - Jonathan Bishop (Hub strategic Lead)
The Power of Reading - Michael Morpurgo
Q & A with Michael Morpurgo - with Bronnie Williams and Matthew Pitts 
10:30 Break

Schools that love to read

Jonathan Bishop, CEO and Hub Strategic Lead

Intentional Excellence in the Teaching of Vocabulary - Why we can't just assume that children will get words

Aaron Leary, Founder of Bedrock Vocabulary

Making every word count: accelerating progress through phonics teaching

Hannah Lyons & Sarah Gomersall, Cornerstone Literacy Specialists

Panel Discussion:

EdTech in English - Catch-up and SEND

Panel Discussion

EdTech in English - Catch-up and SEND


Encouraging Reluctant Readers

Lucy Lees, Cornerstone English Specialist

 Panel Discussion:

Building Blocks

Chaired by Matthew Pitts (Hub Lead) and guests.

Rebooting letters and sounds - Recovery after coming out of lockdown

Janine Ashman, St Peter's English Hub

Enriching English teaching through digital tools

Anthony Lees, Computing Hub Lead

Making the most of digital universal provision

Teresa Cavallo and James Green, Cornerstone SENDCo Team

12:15 Lunctime
Keynote - Schools Minister Nick Gibb
How the Hubs can help - Jenni MacDuff



Entering worlds tmade with words - drama and reading

Bronnie Williams, Cornerstone Drama Lead

Words that are just right: Teaching Tier 2 words

Sally Anne Taylor, Speech and Language Therapist

Panel Discussion:

Brilliant Beginnings

Chaired by Nina Rothery (Hub Lead) with Hub Partner Schools

Agile assessment in English: Digital solutions

Michael Kimber, Beth Schoter (Cornerstone Literacy Specialist)

Empowering Potential

Arran Smith, UK Dyslexia and SEND Consultant - Microsoft

14:25 5 minute change over



Panel Discussion

Best practice in love of reading

Chaired by Jonathan Bishop and Hub Leads from the South West

Tackling Tier 3 terms through the wider curriculum

James Beevor, Cornerstone Project-Based Learning Lead

Word-Rich Environments in Nursery

Tonia Dudley, Cornerstone Literacy Specialist

Immersive Reader: Support tools for engaging with words

Microsoft Education

Immersive Reader: Support tools for engaging with words

Microsoft Education

Storytime with Michael Morpurgo


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