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Helen Bowen

Helen believes that rich contexts for learning are key to the raising of standards and the development of literacy skills both within English and throughout the curriculum. She has used drama for many years to explore challenging subject matters and has worked with schools across Wales to explore how this can impact on the key literacy competencies of oracy, reading and writing. This includes using drama to explore philosophical concepts through ‘teacher in role’ and whole class engagement with complex scenarios.

Her current work involves an approach that embraces the 21st century including the use of still image, picture books and moving image to support this. Her workshops are practical and engaging, but are underpinned by theory and best practice in the development of English and literacy. They aim to challenge traditional approaches whilst supporting the national focus areas that teaching professionals are challenged with including raising standards in reading, engaging boys with literacy and problem solving within English.

Helen started teaching in 1994. During this time she was also a visiting lecturer at Bridgend College working with Learning Support Assistants. Helen was a member of the Newport Literacy Team for 9 years and for 3 years led on English and literacy in the region. She has worked across phases supporting colleagues with developing best practice in literacy and has also experience as a Link Adviser and System Leader. She was the regional representative and adviser to Welsh Government from 2010 to 2013 and was the System Leader with responsibility for English and Literacy across the South East of Wales. Helen is a qualified Team Inspector for Estyn.

Helen sits on a number of national advisory panels including National Drama. She is a keen advocate of, and is most well-known for, her use of creative approaches in the classroom. This includes promoting how drama and ‘rich contexts’ such as images can be used to improve literacy.

From 2010 to 2013, Helen was closely involved with the creation of the National Literacy Framework. This involvement included input and guidance into the content of the Literacy matrices as member of the advisory panel. She was recently commissioned by the DfES to provide external quality assurance on the guidance materials to support Oracy, Reading and Writing across the curriculum. In late 2013/early 2014 Helen was tasked with extending the framework into KS4 and with mapping the NC/LLC into the existing framework. Helen is a member of the DfES curriculum review team as the ‘Literacy Expert’.