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Royal Holloway academic wins prestigious Celebrating Impact prize

Royal Holloway academic wins prestigious Celebrating Impact prize

  • Date12 November 2020

Professor Kathy Rastle from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway and her colleagues Professor Kate Nation from the University of Oxford and Professor Anne Castles from Macquarie University, have won the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Outstanding Impact International prize 2020 for their work on ending the Reading Wars.

Professor Kathy Rastle

‘Ending the Reading Wars’ is transforming the way reading is taught in classrooms around the world and helping potentially millions of children improve their life chances through better literacy skills. It draws together 30 years of scientific study which has resulted in concrete recommendations for how to teach reading. This research has countered ideology-based positions on how children learn to read, and is transforming policy and practice among key literacy stakeholders.

The ESRC announced the winner on 12 November at a virtual award ceremony. The ESRC Celebrating Impact prize, is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the success of the ESRC-funded researchers in achieving and enabling outstanding economic or societal impact from excellent research.

Professor Kathy Rastle from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, said: “I am thrilled that the ESRC has recognized the transformative impact that our work is having on how children around the world are taught to read.  

“The strength of our work has been to forge a deep connection between the science behind how we read and actual strategies, policies, and classroom practices.  Our success would never have been possible without the enthusiasm of teachers and other professionals working within the literacy ecosystem, and their openness to new perspectives.  Learning to read is genuinely life changing, and I am proud that our work is making a difference to the lives of so many."

Professor Paul Layzell, Principal at Royal Holloway, said: “Congratulations to Professor Kathy Rastle and her colleagues on winning the prestigious ‘Outstanding Impact International Prize’. I am delighted that the impact of this transformative research is being recognised. Professor Kathy Rastle and her colleagues have shown the world that the science behind how learning to read for children is changing.”

Professor Jennifer Rubin, ESRC Executive Chair, said: “The winners and finalists in this year’s ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize competition have very clearly demonstrated the impact of their work including its relevance and importance to improving lives.

“All of these outstanding researchers are already contributing to policy debates in their specialist areas and their influence will likely be felt for many years to come.”

The winners of the ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize 2020 are awarded £10,000 to spend on further knowledge exchange, public engagement or other communications activities.

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