Special Interest Groups

What is a Special Interest group?

Special Interest Groups (SIGs) were originally established as part of the UKLA regular review in 2003. Their remit has now altered slightly and the opportunities for taking part in a SIG were re-framed in 2007. Through these we hope that more members will be able to participate and contribute to the Association’s object: to advance education in literacy.

The current Standing Orders state that:

  • Special Interest Groups will assist the Association in the development of understanding and policy about particular areas of literacy teaching and learning. (11, (b) 2007)
  • The work of Special Interest Groups will be important to the UKLA’s work and EC members are keen to support the groups whose members will have the potential to develop/shape and/or respond to an area of need/common interest in literacy and contribute to the Association’s mission.

It is likely that SIGs will operate for one or two years only, or as long as the group thinks they need to fulfil their aims and commitment to the Association.

Why set up a Special Interest Group?

Joining or starting up a SIG means access to the network of the UKLA – a significant number of professionals in all phases of education in the UK. It offers SIG members the chance to collaborate in self-defined ways to further the group’s aims and interests. It also means the possibilities of international links over literacy.

There would also be potential for influencing literacy education through attending or organising conferences, publishing occasional papers, setting up website networks, collaborating with local authorities and other associations and seeking funding from external bodies to take the work further.

There are publishing opportunities within UKLA. The range is being extended, but the most familiar opportunities for the group to consider would be:

  • to write an occasional paper or minibook;
  • to submit an article for Literacy;
  • to contribute to English 4-11;
  • to publish updates and summaries of work in progress or in response to key issues and core concerns in Literacy News.

Whilst the work of a SIG would start with UKLA, it may have outcomes which are disseminated outside the Association’s publications. This would be a welcome way to extend ideas and networks, provided, of course, that UKLA is acknowledged and the logo is used.

Matters to consider when setting up a SIG

The Association is not able to offer funding so the SIG’s work will be carried out by email, unless funding outside the Association can be gained. The SIG may wish, however, to apply together for a UKLA research grant or apply for outside funding (in all cases the UKLA logo needs to be used to reflect the SIG’s affiliation).

The proposers of a Special Interest Group will be expected to be UKLA members and all members of the SIG will need to be UKLA members in order to join the group. The Convenor of the SIG will be co-opted to the UKLA’s National Council (meeting twice annually).

The process of setting up a SIG

A Special Interest Group may be proposed by any two members of the Association or set up by the Executive Committee (EC).

An application to set up a SIG can be made to the EC, outlining:

  • The aim and focus of the SIG;
  • The name of the proposed Convenor ;
  • The likely duration of the group’s work;
  • The proposed outcome(s): e.g. conference symposium, publication, representation at other associations’ conferences.
  • An assurance that there will no financial implications;
  • The name of an ‘attached’ EC member who could support the work of the SIG.


Once EC have authorised the remit of the SIG, the Secretary will let the SIG convenor know and discuss any practical matters that may arise, and the Administrator will contact to collect web site details. Open membership of the SIG will be advertised through Literacy News and on the website, where a summary of the SIG’s focus and aims will be placed. The convenor may also wish to invite specific UKLA members to join their activities and conversations.

The continuing work of the SIG

Once the work is under way, the Convenor may wish to contact the convenors of the Conference sub-committee, the Marketing and Publicity sub-committee, the Membership and Awards sub-committee or the Publications sub-committee to discuss future plans.

It is likely that the SIG Convenor will be invited to give a brief update to the National Council (which meets twice a year). An annual report of the work of the SIG must be submitted to the Association’s Secretary each May.

Duties of Convenors of Special Interest Groups

The SIG convenor:

  • works within the remit agreed by the EC;
  • co-ordinates email business and other meetings and initiatives;
  • ensures that an annual summary of activity is circulated to EC and a reference set is lodged in the Association’s office;
  • undertakes additional duties as from time to time as may be agreed with EC, for example serving by the invitation of the EC on the Association’s NC, representing the Association in meetings of other organisations.


Current Special Interest Groups (SIG) and Task Groups

New Media Literacy SIG

A new UKLA special interest group in media literacy is to be convened by Julian McDougall from the Centre for Exellence in Media Practice, a research centre at Bournemouth University. This SIG will provide a network to bring literacy practitioners and media educators in the UK together and a platform for communication with policy makers, OFCOM and European / international media literacy research groups.

A launch symposium, including the dissemination of a study mapping new literacies to Media Studies, will be held in London in the Autumn. Alongside this, the SIG will invite   expressions of interest for new research into media literacies by UKLA members.

Over the initial two years of the SIG's activities, it will aim to promote a research-informed approach to media literacy education and to promote media literacy as an essential element of literacy education in the 21st century; collate and support research-informed educational media literacy practice and disseminate this to both literacy and media educators to bring these two communities of practice together.

For further information, please contact Julian McDougall:

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The Storytelling SIG

The UKLA Storytelling SIG, convened by Alastair Daniel (storyteller and lecturer) aims to bring together professionals with an interest in storytelling as not only a fundamental form of oral communication, but also a means of shaping and organising ideas and an effective teaching method. It is hoped that the Storytelling SIG will provide a forum for creating a nationwide storytelling community, with members sharing research in narrative and teaching, classroom resources, reflections on storytelling, examples of good practice and, perhaps, even some stories.

The ultimate goal is to ensure that the benefits and practice of storytelling can be shared, encouraged and utilized within classrooms and the broader educational sphere.

For more information about this SIG please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or find us on Facebook: UKLA Storytelling SIG

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Reasons to join UKLA

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  • Be eligible for reduced conference fees and publications
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  • Opportunities to apply for research grants
  • Get involved and make a difference
  • Be part of the future of literacy learning and teaching