Aston Literacy Project

Aston Literacy Project

This website is a resource designed for teachers, parents and children involved in the Aston Literacy Project, and others interested in our research findings. We will update it regularly so please visit often to keep informed.

Our project investigates the relationship between auditory skills, phonology, and reading in children at the beginning and intermediate stages of literacy development. The research is funded by an ESRC-funded grant (2011-2016) conducted by Dr Laura Shapiro (Principal Investigator), Dr Caroline WittonProfessor Joel Talcott, Professor Adrian Burgess and Dr Anna Cunningham (Research Fellow 2011-2015). Phase 5 of ALP (2016) was coordinated by Amy Fox.


Our first academic paper from the project has been accepted for publication in Cognition. You can read the paper by clicking here.  This paper is written for a specialist academic audience. For updates targeted at practitioners and parents, please click on the summaries below.

For an overview of the whole project click here

See Phase 1 Newsletter for Autumn 2011 (beginning of Reception).

See Phase 2 Newsletter for Spring 2012 (middle of Year 2).

See Phase 3 Newsletter for Summer 2012 (end of Reception). 

See Phase 4 Newsletter for Summer 2013 (end of Year 1).

Phase 5 Newsletter for Summer 2016 (end of Year 4) is coming soon!


The project involves two large groups of children from 16 schools in the Birmingham area.

  • Sample 1: Longitudinal sample of ~800 children assessed from the beginning of school
  • Sample 2: Comparison sample of ~600 Year 2 children tested once in the Spring of Year 2

Aims of the research:

  • To develop our understanding of the different types of auditory and phonological skills displayed by primary school children
  • To investigate how these skills impact upon literacy development
  • To identify the pattern of difficulties shown by children who struggle with reading.

Status of the research:

We have now finished five large data collection phases across 16 schools in the Birmingham area. We have followed up the longitudinal sample during Summer 2016, now that they are in Year 4. Thank you to all the children, teachers and research assistants who were involved. 

This research will help lead to more effective early identification of children who are at risk of developing reading difficulties, and inform successful interventions. Your participation will make an important contribution.

picture 2016