The Strathclyde Literacy Clinic

  • Thomson, Jane (Academic)

Project: Internally funded project

Project Details


I developed the Strathclyde Literacy Clinic with my colleague, Sue Ellis, and was nominated for the Guardian Higher Education Award. The Strathclyde Literacy Clinic began as a volunteering project but has now been developed into an award bearing module.
Almost one-third of Strathclyde's B.Ed4 and B.Ed3 cohorts volunteered to take part. Students work in teams of four to coach one struggling pupil, who gets one lesson per week from each team member, for 10 weeks. Each student writes-up their lesson in a pupil-file (kept in school) and phones the next day’s student to report issues and discuss immediate learning priorities. Weekly tutorial support is provided for the student teaching teams by university staff.

The project was designed to build student teachers’ fluency in real-time teaching responses in ways that provide a strong emotional and social dimension to their learning. It does this by using a short-term intervention in which student teachers use their literacy-teaching knowledge on real children with reading problems. It is based in one of the poorest parts of Glasgow and makes a real difference to the life chances of children in local primary schools. At the same time, it advances Strathclyde student teachers’ skills and maintains the University’s sector-leading status for literacy teacher education. This model incorporates a subtle shift from the focus that drives traditional models student-teacher learning. Instead of emphasizing planning and evaluating, it focuses directly on the student teacher’s impact on pupils’ learning, using hard measures of pupil progress. We use the group dynamic to generate discussion, create shared responsibility, and purposeful planning and record keeping, which all support responsive, informed teaching.
Every student teacher must learn what it feels like to make a lasting difference to a child’s life by helping them become literate. This is one example of the many ways that Strathclyde student teachers make a difference. In this project, they learn that they can make a difference, and how to go about it.

Key findings

Through participation in the Literacy Clinic, both struggling readers and the students who coach them are rewarded. The pupils make gains in their reading attainment, generally increasing reading age by up to 12 months during a 10 week period (although one child gained 2 years and 3 months). Students learn through collaborating with each other and using their content knowledge of teaching reading in a live situation.
Short titleLiteracy Clinic
StatusNot started


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