The ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize, now in its eighth year, is an annual opportunity to recognise and celebrate the success of ESRC-funded researchers in achieving and enabling outstanding economic or societal impact from excellent research. Entrants' applications were reviewed by a panel of academics, engagement and knowledge exchange experts, and research users. Shortlisted applicants were invited to an interview, along with non-academic supporters who helped describe the impact of the work. The winners were announced at a virtual awards ceremony on 12 November.
Each winner is awarded a prize of £10,000 to be spent on furthering knowledge exchange, public engagement, or other communications activities to promote the economic and social impact of their research.
Learning to read transforms lives. The team's paper, 'Ending the Reading Wars: Reading Acquisition from Novice to Expert', aims to close the wide gap between the state of research knowledge about learning to read and the state of public understanding in order to inform educational policy and practice. It presents a comprehensive review of the science of learning to read, spanning children’s earliest alphabetic skills through to the fluent word recognition and skilled text comprehension characteristic of expert readers. The article explains why phonics instruction is so central to learning in a writing system such as English, moving beyond phonics to review research on what else children need to learn to become expert readers and considering how this might be translated into effective classroom practice.
Professor Nation said:
'Kathy, Anne and I are delighted to win this prize. There are few things in a child's education as vital as learning to read. Over the years it’s been both a pleasure and an education to build partnerships with teachers – the people charged with the vital job of teaching our children to read. We are grateful for their wisdom and support, and thanks too to the ESRC for funding our basic research and helping us build and celebrate its impact.'
Professor Jessica Rubin, ESRC Executive Chair, said:
'The winners and finalists in this year's ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize competition have very clearly demonstrated the impact of their work including its relevance and importance to improving lives.
'All of these outstanding researchers are already contributing to policy debates in their specialist areas and their influence will likely be felt for many years to come'.