St John Vianney English Hub is one of 34 primary schools across England selected for their expertise in teaching reading and to support schools in their surrounding areas.

English hub schools will promote a love of reading and support schools across the country to provide excellent phonics and early language teaching.

Literacy specialists within each hub will provide tailored support to schools in need of support. This will include:

  • running events to showcase excellent practice in the teaching of reading
  • working more closely with individual schools to develop their practice

If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us through our Hub email account: [email protected]

Follow us on Twitter: @SJVEnglishHub

Telephone : 01253 543872

Meet the Team

Meet the SJV English Hub Team

Below you can find out more information about our team…

Dr Elaine Allen - Director of Hub/Hub Council Chair/ Executive Headteacher

Elaine Allen is an experienced Headteacher having taught for over 30 years in a range of educational settings including primary, secondary, special and Further education.

Elaine has been involved in educational research for over 15 years, more recently working through Lancaster University in many aspects of education and social justice. International research during this time included mentoring a Headteacher in Rwanda and coaching and training staff and leadership in a school in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Elaine has led projects to support other schools and more recently was a co-lead of the Blackpool Maths Project.
Elaine is also a Section 48 inspector for the local Diocese.
Although beginning her career as a high school Maths teacher, Elaine is now passionate about the importance of getting all children to read fluently as early as possible, as reading is the key to extending knowledge in all areas of learning.

Emma Hornby - Hub Lead/Literacy Specialist

Emma is an experienced Teacher across the EYFS and KS1. As a KS1 middle leader, she has a particular passion for Phonics and Reading and ensuring that every child becomes a fluent reader. Emma thrives in mentoring and coaching other practitioners.

Teachers from other settings have observed her teaching and in particular she has worked closely with them to develop their understanding of phonics and the impact a well-planned and established structure can have on children’s early reading. She has previously hosted a DFE Phonics Roadshow at school to celebrate the impact of the school’s work alongside working to achieve Model School Status in Read Write Inc.

Another particular highlight is that 97% of the Year 1 cohort at St John Vianney passed the Phonics Screening Check in 2019 and more importantly they can now read fluently and for pleasure. She strongly believes in improving practice and inspiring practitioners to be the best they can be.

Emma is now looking forward to leading the team of Reading Specialists and working with local schools to support the aims of our St John Vianney English Hub. She is delighted to be in the role of Hub Lead and is excited about the prospect of working with other schools

and leaders in order to ensure the very best quality of education for their pupils.

Caroline Bridge – Literacy Specialist

Caroline has over 30 years teaching experience throughout the Foundation and Primary Key Stages in a variety of schools from a range of socio-economic areas. She has a special interest in early communication and language, oracy, quality phonics teaching and early reading. Her knowledge, experience and expertise have led to the involvement in many projects with a focus on environments and systems, staff coaching and curriculum development in a range of contexts and challenges.

Teaching and learning in the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 is a great passion and strength. She has mentored and coached many teams to become aware of their context, challenges, direction and how to develop the effective teaching and learning of reading. Caroline has implemented quality targeted interventions to promote the development of spoken language skills such as vocabulary knowledge, story-telling and listening skills through a variety of programmes. She advocates quality first teaching, clear planning, a focus on building children’s phonic skills, regular practice of assisted blending, skilled targeting and rigorous 

In addition to this, regular pupil progress meetings to allow targeted quality short-term interventions to impact those children at risk of falling behind is vital. She values parental involvement and believes shared “next steps” are of great importance.

Previous experience as a member of senior management teams in a variety of schools and as Deputy and Acting Headteacher have also helped her develop a flexible and consultative approach, building strengths through focused coaching, monitoring, self-evaluation and feedback from staff to raise standards and nurture teams to achieve the best possible education for children.

Caroline has been part of the team at the St John Vianney English Hub for over 2 years and is excited to continue to support the delivery of quality early literacy, helping children to have the best possible start in their educational journey.

Clare Evans – Head of School/Literacy Specialist

Clare Evans is the Head of School at St John Vianney’s and she has worked in Primary Education for 20 years. During this time she has developed her knowledge and expertise of the English Curriculum.

Her main teaching focus has been mainly based in Key Stage Two however she has knowledge and experience of the Primary Phase. Clare has recently gained her Master’s degree in Education and uses her knowledge to strive for improving standards to ensure every child receives an excellent education.

As a Lead English Teacher for Blackpool Clare has supported many teachers in their professional development and has worked on transition projects that have helped support children in their next academic phase.

Clare is a Research Lead and endeavours to bring proven research to help make change and drive forward school priorities and standards.

Clare has redesigned the curriculum to ensure that the main focus is on Reading as she believes that it should permeate all subjects so that children have as many opportunities to experience high quality texts as possible. Vocabulary development and closing the word gap are Clare’s current priorities.

Sarah King – Literacy Specialist

Sarah is an Early Literacy Specialist and SLE for Literacy and Phonics. She has a real passion for developing children’s early literacy skills; ‘I love books, reading with children and getting excited about stories, hearing children retell and invent their own stories, that light bulb moment when they begin to realise that those lines and squiggles are words and that they too can read them, and then when those words begin to flow from their pencil with such joy; that is what motivates me’.

She enjoys her role as Literacy Specialist and SLE; and relishes the opportunity to ensure that a high standard of Literacy teaching is available to all of our pupils. She takes great pleasure in working with other professionals and

gains so much from developing working relationships in this way. She has been teaching for 10 years and has been an SLE for EYFS and KS1 Literacy and Phonics for 5 of these. She works at Holy Rosary Teaching School, currently as an Early Years Teacher although some of her time has been in Key Stage 1.

Since being appointed as an SLE in Literacy and phonics she has been involved in and had an impact in improving the quality of teaching and learning in both Early Years and Key Stage One, in Holy Rosary and other schools in Sefton. She has recently been involved with the Warrington Teaching School Communication and Language and Talk for writing training project, all aimed at children developing speaking, listening, reading and writing.

She has provided training in Phonics and Reading for NQTs and Student teachers and has been a guest speaker at a ‘Phonics Road Show’; speaking about the importance of Systematic Synthetic Phonics. Sarah is now looking forward to working as a team with the St John Vianney English Hub as a Literacy Specialist working with other professionals to enhance and develop the teaching of Phonics and reading in our schools.

Gemma Farrimond – Literacy Specialist

I am an experienced in teacher and middle leader across EYFS and Year 1. I am passionate about facilitating and nurturing a love of reading in young children as it is the one skill that transcends all other curriculum areas. For the past 5 years, I have led Phonics and Reading across my school. This role has included leading bespoke staff training and personalised coaching which both myself and my team have found very rewarding.

A highlight of this journey was when my school was awarded the ‘Ruth Miskin Trained School Award’ in recognition of the progress my school, our staff and our children have made in our Phonics programme. I am on a determined and unwavering mission to engage children, their parents and school staff in reading, both at my own school and beyond. Working with the St John Vianney English Hub is a real privilege as it allows me to share my passion for reading with a much wider spectrum of children and adults.

Victoria Plummer – Literacy Specialist

I am the year group lead for Year 1 in a three-form entry school in Blackburn. I have 6 years’ experience leading Phonics and early reading across EYFS and Year 1. Within that time, I have worked alongside the team to develop a progressive plan for delivery of high-quality teaching and learning in Phonics, resulting in a consistently high pass rate in the Phonics Screening Check.

Part of my role is to ensure all planning across EYFS and Year 1 follows the long-term plan for progression in Phonics. I also monitor assessment data half-termly, which enables class teachers to plan interventions accordingly. I have trained new staff and have met with senior leaders from local schools, helping them to develop their own school action plans to improve outcomes in Phonics and early reading.

I am passionate about every child reaching their potential, particularly ensuring children with SEND can access the curriculum.

Daniel Johnson – Hub Business Manager

Danny joined the team at St John Vianney just over two years ago, but has over 5 years’ experience of working in local schools. He has been an integral part of our Hub journey from the very beginning. He is extremely passionate about his role as School and Hub Business Manager with a clear drive and vision for school improvement. He has a strong financial background, working as an accountant for 10 years specialising in the production of Academy accounts and auditing.

He also has a wealth of knowledge and experience in customer service.

Anya Cross – Hub Administrator

Anya has many years of experience of working in a school setting and within the local authority. She is enthusiastic about her role in School and as part of the Hub team. Anya’s wealth of experience and ability to work diligently and efficiently makes her invaluable to the Hub and School in general.

Joanne Kearns – Hub Administrator

Joanne has a strong educational background that she has used to great effect to be an effective part of the Hub team. Her attention to detail and approachability has led to her becoming the first point of contact between the Hub and the schools that are looking to inquire about the support that is available to them.

Jade Wheatley-Yates - Literacy Specialist

I am the Assistant Headteacher and an experienced middle leader of a large, three form entry Infant School. I have had experience of teaching within every year group in a primary school and I am the current lead teacher for Key Stage One as I have extensive experience across this age range. My passion lies with Early Reading and I love nothing more than sparking interest and excitement with a new class novel!

I have a whole school responsibility for leading English, including Early Reading and Phonics. I have been in this role for 6 years and amongst all this, I teach full time within a Year 1/EYFS mixed age class.

I am also an SLE for English and since being appointed, I have had an impact in improving the quality of teaching and learning in both Early Years and Key Stage One across a wide range of schools. I firmly believe in a collegiate approach to improving standards. It relies on collaboration and supportive relationships. This is the way to develop and drive sustained improvement in Education.

Throughout my role, I provide regular training for class teachers, both within and outside of my own school, in improving their own practice and raising outcomes for pupils. I aim to provide direct classroom support through modelling good practice and team teaching. I am also experienced in curriculum design, in particular English, ensuring that there is coverage and clear progression across all year groups.

English Hub Locations

Showcase Events

St John Vianney Catholic Primary School is proud to be one of 34 schools across the country to become an English Hub and help improve reading standards. Our aim is to promote high quality phonics teaching, a love of reading and to support schools to teach children to read. Our English Hub Lead and Specialist Literacy Teachers will be driving this exciting new venture.

These half day workshops will provide all participants with the opportunity to share best practice in the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics whilst promoting a love of reading.

The event will include:

  • Introductory talk by the Headteacher explaining the key leadership decisions that have enabled reading success
  • A learning walk to see and discuss best practice in the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics and early reading
  • Research-based evidence woven throughout the sessions
  • Practical activities and ideas to take away to support action planning
  • How to choose and use resources effectively in the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics
  • Follow-up email/ telephone conversations/ materials for further support after the showcase (potential access to funding for resources & training)

Supply cover will be funded for all delegates. In addition there will be an opportunity to apply for funding to purchase resources for supporting the teaching of phonics and early reading. (£3,000, matched funding or £6,000, unmatched in some cases).


Despite the challenges of COVID, last year we were able to still host Showcases and Events. Over 100 participants attended after making a referral into our English Hub. Participants were able to hear our passionate team share best practice in the teaching of phonics, early language development as well as sharing their love of reading.

As a result, we were able to carry out numerous funded audits in order to look at provision in their own school and to decide upon their next steps. 30 schools have also been selected for further support in 2020/2021

Although, in the short term, some of our work has moved online, we are continuing our work to support schools by:

  • Carrying out further showcases.
  • Continue auditing schools in order to determine how to improve their provision.
  • Fund training and workshops.

Please note that at the current time, these events will be held virtually via Microsoft Teams. We look forward to welcoming visitors on site again when the guidance around COVID-19 indicates that it is safe to do so.