Abigail Steel BA Hons PTE LLB: England

“I come from a long line of teachers: my mother, grandmother and great grandmother – and aren’t all mothers teachers anyway? At first I resisted the profession and then discovered that I had a talent and passion in life for teaching children but also for teaching the adults that work with children. I became particularly interested in the ‘Early Years Debate’ (the learning through play/direct teaching balance) and the ‘Reading Debate’ and studied avidly in these domains. I attended every course available, read research studies and listened to many experts and then, of course, I myself was teaching in early years and primary education and was constantly able to link the theory with the practice to gain a clearer understanding of the issues and the reality of differences in outcomes from explicit systematic teaching using specific techniques supported by content-rich materials.

I also became very interested in Special Educational Needs (SEN) and children with Profound Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD) and again embarked in learning as much as possible from experts, research, courses and practical experience. I ran projects with my Local Education Authority working with the Ethnic Minority And Gypsy Roma Traveller Association; became the SEN Co-ordinator at my school and I ran a popular holiday club through the Easter and Summer holidays for children aged 5 – 19 years with SEN and PMLD.

My desire to help others educationally led me to start writing educational magazine articles and provide consultancy services for publishers of educational resources for both systematic synthetic phonics provision and for various special needs, communication, literacy and literature projects. I found that by exploring mediums outside of the classroom I could reach a wider audience and share my educational messages with more and more teachers and families. I began to provide parent information sessions for schools, local community groups and for volunteer-readers’ organisations. In addition, I continued to teach in the classroom and began to tutor primary and secondary pupils in literacy, history and maths.

In 2010, I set up my own consultancy business to reach as many families as possible. I continue to work with children and families, with teachers and whole school staff teams, and with universities to motivate and educate the adults who will be passing on their skills, knowledge and care. You will also find me travelling the world leading INSET days, training and consulting in schools; leading conferences and seminars; writing books and articles on many education topics; designing educational resources for various publishers and hosting training sessions for teachers and parents looking to take their knowledge and skills to a new level.

The reason I am passionate about the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction is because daily I meet parents and teachers who simply want to know how best to help their children and I am well aware of the international scenario whereby there is no guarantee that learners of the English language will be taught by research-informed practices. With the right knowledge, understanding, supportive resources and teaching and learning techniques, we could achieve a profound improvement in literacy standards across the world.”