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).


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 (updated June 15), 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).

Please click here for a brief summary of the project on the ESRC website. Please click here for a poster showing our novel approach to deconstructing phonological tasks, presented at the International Workshop on Reading and Developmental Dyslexia, San Sebastian, Spain 2013.

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

  • Sample 1: 800 Reception-age children (beginning readers) will be tested at the start and end of the Reception year, and at the end of Year 1 and Year 4.
  • Sample 2: 600 Year 2 children (intermediate readers) will be tested once in the Spring of Year 2.
The research has three aims:
  • 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.

We have now finished four large data collection phases across 16 schools in the Birmingham area. Thank you to all the children, teachers and research assistants who were involved. We plan to follow-up the same children from phases 1,3, and 4 during Summer 2016, when they will be in Year 4. We will be in touch with the schools closer to the time to arrange a date for this. 

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.