9. A lifelong love of storytelling – part 2



Michael Morpurgo

In this episode of our series Word Up with Helen Prince, Helen chats to Michael Morpurgo about his childhood, teaching career and success as a storyteller and writer. We learn how Michael’s love of stories was inspired by his actor mother and how a courageous decision to tell his first story to Year 6 class, along with encouragement from Headteacher Mrs Skiffington, opened the door to him becoming an author of magical children’s books. 

If you missed part 1 we would recommend listening to that episode before tuning in to part 2. 

Michael Morpurgo is an award-winning storyteller, author, poet and playwright who has written over 120 books; a former teacher who went on to become Children’s Laureate. Michael is also series editor of TreeTops Greatest Stories published by Oxford University Press. 

Further reading and support:

  • Explore TreeTops Greatest Stories.
  • Find out how your child expands their vocabulary at primary school, and discover how you can help them learn new vocabulary at home here.

8. A lifelong love of storytelling – part 1



Michael Morpurgo

In this episode of Word Up with Helen Prince, Helen chats to Michael Morpurgo about his childhood, teaching career and success as a storyteller and writer. We learn how Michael’s love of stories was inspired by his actor mother and how a courageous decision to tell his first story to Year 6 class, along with encouragement from Headteacher Mrs Skiffington, opened the door to him becoming an author of magical children’s books.

Michael Morpurgo is an award-winning storyteller, author, poet and playwright who has written over 120 books; a former teacher who went on to become Children’s Laureate. Michael is also series editor of TreeTops Greatest Stories published by Oxford University Press.

Further reading and support:

  • Explore TreeTops Greatest Stories.
  • Find out how your child expands their vocabulary at primary school, and discover how you can help them learn new vocabulary at home here.

7. Teaching and parenting with Gogglebox’s voice of reason



Baasit Siddiqui

In this episode of Word Up with Helen Prince, Helen and Baasit Siddiqui chat about his time as a teacher and his journey to becoming one of our favourite Gogglebox regulars.   

As well as being a professional educatorBaasit has been helping to support his daughter’s home learning during school closures. Baasit talks about the remote learning strategies his child’s school used to help build pupils’ vocabulary, as well as the positive experience of seeing his daughter learn through play during lockdown.  

Baasit Siddiqui is the managing director of Siddiqui Education Ltd. Baasit’s passion is to educate, motivate and build aspirations of disadvantaged school children across the nation, using his unique experiences and connections as an educator, entertainer and entrepreneur. 

Further reading and support:


6. How can effective school leadership techniques impact quality of education?



Moira Marder

In this episode of Word Up with Helen PrinceHelen and Moira Marder discuss the effective leadership techniques Moira has used across the Ted Wragg Trust, a group of 12 schools and 9,000 pupils.  

They talk about the importance of creating a strong team and creating sustainability with a longterm vision for schools.  A lovely conversation about optimism and creating opportunities for our young people.  

Moira is the Chief Executive Officer of The Ted Wragg Multi-Academy Trust; an Exeter-based Trust set up in 2013 to transform the quality of education and life chances for all pupils in Exeter.  

Further reading and support:

  • Visit our wellbeing hub for support for parents and teachers.
  • Download our report ‘How Schools are Closing the Word Gap: The Oxford Language Report 2021-22’ for a series of case studies from teachers packed with ideas and suggestions for narrowing the Word Gap.

5. How can the Word Gap affect communication in pupils with SEND?



Louise Pennington

In this episode of Word Up with Helen PrinceHelen and Louise Pennington talk about communication in children with special educational needs.  Louise talks about the challenges some children with SEND face from early years through to secondary education and how the Word Gap can affect this, before offering strategies to help support teachers and pupils. 

Louise is the Professional Development Lead for maths and Numicon at Oxford University Press. She is a founding Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching and previous Primary Teacher, SENCO and Local Authority SEND Team Leader. 

Further reading and support:


4. Lockdown learnings with Laura Patch: a light-hearted look at acting and home-schooling in the pandemic



Laura Patch

In this episode of our series Word Up with Helen Prince, Helen talks to Laura Patch about who and what inspired her to pursue a career in acting. Laura discusses how a broad vocabulary range helps her develop the characters she plays. They also chat about some of the challenges faced by parents during home schooling (peppered with amusing anecdotes from the village WhatsApp group!).

Laura is a British comedy actor and mum to three young boys.

Further reading and support:


3. Covid’s impact on Early Years teaching – how to identify and address gaps in learning



Phil Minns

In this episode of Word Up with Helen Prince, Helen and Phil Minns chat about the joy of working in an Early Years setting, and discuss the impact of school closures on Early Years learning. They look at how to identify and prioritize which gaps to focus on, as well as discussing the importance of EYFS teachers working with KS1 teachers to ensure children have the basics to build on in the next step in their education.

Phil also talks about his time with Ofsted and the rewarding moments of working with schools.  A funny and light-hearted conversation covering everything from drama and stories to crisp flavours and musicals! 

Phil is one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors and is the specialist advisor for Early Years and Primary education. He has been Assistant Director of Children’s Services with responsibility for education, SEND and Early Years. 

Further reading and support:

  • Find out about Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI), an evidence based intervention programme for children aged 4-5 to overcome language difficulties, independently evaulated by the EEF.
  • Word Sparks is a collection of fiction and non-fiction titles to help improve Early Years vocabulary and phonics.
  • Explore our ebooks library for Letters and Sounds.
  • Little Blending Books is a collection of books to help children practise sounding and blending words.
  • Kalim started in Reception as one of the youngest in his year. He started to learn sounds in September and by April could read, enjoy and understand simple storybooks. Watch his reading journey with Read Write Inc. Phonics.

2. How to engage children with reading to expand their vocabulary



Shareen Wilkinson

The link between extensive reading and a broad vocabulary is well known, but how can teachers expand children’s vocabulary when they’re reluctant to read?  

In this episode of Word Up with Helen Prince, Helen and Shareen Wilkinson talk about children’s literature, early memories, reading and poetry. Shareen discusses the different strategies she uses to engage children with reading; including dance, music and drama. Shareen also shares stories from her best lessons and why they’ve been so successful.  A lovely conversation looking at the link between vocabulary and reading in primary schools. 

Shareen Wilkinson is a primary school senior leader, former LA lead Primary English advisor, and an established educational author and series editorShareen advises at national level, including as a DfE grammar and reading (KS1 and KS2) subject specialist. 

Further reading and support:

  • Shareen offers practical strategies to teach vocabulary in the classroom in this blog.
  • Shareen’s popular webinar on ‘Closing the vocabulary gap in primary schools’ is available to watch on demand.
  • Find out more about Word Sparks, fully decodable books that tackle the word gap, developed with series editors Shareen Wilkinson and James Clements.

1. Why is language important for understanding mathematical concepts?



Andrew Jeffrey

In this first episode of Word Up with Helen Prince, Helen and Andrew Jeffrey discuss the importance of understanding language in order to grasp mathematical concepts.  Mathematics is more than just numbers – it’s a language in its own right, and in order for children to understand it they need to hear it and think it.  Andrew offers a fascinating take on concept and language.

Helen is an English Advisor, author of Oxford University Press’s Get It Right: Boost Your Vocabulary, and CEO of ChatterStars. Andrew is a Primary Maths Consultant, author, and the Director of Magic Message Ltd. Andrew’s passion is studying why some children find mathematics so hard to grasp.

Further reading and support: