Fiona Jelley

Fiona Jelley (née Roberts) is a senior researcher in the Families, Effective Learning, and Literacy (FELL) research group.

Her main research interest is in young children’s literacy development and, more specifically, the ways in which this can be shaped through engaging parents in their children’s education.

Fiona is currently lead researcher on the evaluation team for the Parental Engagement Fund. The Fund, launched by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Sutton Trust, is supporting six organisations in their work on engaging parents in their children’s learning. The Oxford evaluation team will support the projects to consider their measurement of impact and to develop their evidence base in order to improve delivery. Click here for further information about the Parental Engagement Fund.

Previously, Fiona was co-principal investigator on a project implementing the SPOKES programme (Supporting Parents on Kids’ Education), which aims to help parents support their children’s reading at home. She was a senior researcher for Helping Children Achieve (HCA), a randomised controlled trial investigating the independent and combined effects of two parenting interventions designed to enhance children’s behaviour and literacy development near the start of school. More recently, she has been part of a team working with Oxford University Press on new and innovative ways that technology can support young children’s reading.

Before joining FELL in 2006, Fiona gained a first-class honours degree in Psychology from The University of Bath. She has experience in both randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and observational research, and is also trained in administering a range of child cognitive assessments.

Fiona is Chair of the Department’s Research Staff Forum and participates in University-wide conferences and events.

Book chapters

  • Mathers, S, Roberts, F, Sylva, K (2013) “Quality in early childhood education”, In: G Pugh, B Duffy (eds.) Contemporary Issues in the Early Years. 6th. London: Sage Publications. 55-72

  • Roberts, F, Mathers, S, Joshi, H, Sylva, K, Jones, E (2010) “Childcare in the pre-school years”, In: Children of the 21st Century: The First Five Years. 131-152

  • Sylva, K, Roberts, F (2009) “Quality in early childhood education: evidence for long-term effects”, In: G Pugh, B Duffy (eds.) Contemporary Issues in the Early Years. 5th. London: Sage Publications. 47-62

Conference papers

  • Karemaker, AM, Jelley, F, Sylva, K, Clancy, C (2016) The effects of selected e-book features on children’s literacy development in Year-1: A small- scale Randomised Controlled Trial. (Belfast)

  • Jelley, F, Sylva, K (2016) Helping parents support children's reading: RCT evidence on parents' behavioural outcomes. (University of York)

  • Jelley, FC, Karemaker, A, Sylva, K (2016) Improving children’s reading through parental support: evidence on parents’ behavioural outcomes. (Belfast)

  • Karemaker, AM, Jelley, F, Sylva, K, Kanji, G, Murphy, V (2014) Ready to read: how staff training impacts literacy skills in pre-schools. (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

  • Jelley, F, Karemaker, A, Sylva, K (2014) A new measure of Concepts About Print: “Dan the Flying Man”. (Amsterdam)

  • Roberts, F, Sylva, K, Sammons, P (2012) Helping parents to support their children’s transition to school: a feasibility trial on ‘Ready to Go!’. (Porto)

  • Roberts, F, Sylva, K (2010) From efficacy to effectiveness: helping parents support their children's literacy and behaviour at home. (University of York)

  • Roberts, F, Sylva, K (2010) Teaching parents to support their children’s reading at home. (Berlin)

  • Roberts, F, Nayak, G, Sylva, K (2010) A new observational measure to assess parent support during shared book-reading. (Goldsmiths, University of London)

  • Roberts, F, Sylva, K (2009) Teaching parents to support their children's reading at home: a randomised controlled trial. (Nottingham)

Journal articles

  • Karemaker, A, Jelley, F, Clancy, C, Sylva, K (2017) “The effects on children's literacy skills of reading e-books with different features: Are ‘bells and whistles’ over-rated?”, International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction. 12 30-36.


  • Jelley, F, Sylva, K, Karemaker, A (2016) EasyPeasy parenting app: findings from an efficacy trial on parent engagement and school readiness skills. London: The Sutton Trust.

  • Sylva, K, Jelley, F, Karemaker, A, Ebbens, A, Archer, A (2016) Final report to the Educational Endowment Foundation (EEF) on the SPOKES intervention. University of Oxford:

  • Sylva, K, Roberts, F, Price, J, Scott, S, Doolan, M, Beckett, C (2011) Teaching parents to support their children’s reading: is it feasible? Report to DfE. London: NAPR/KCL.

  • Sylva, K, Roberts, F, Beckett, C, Doolan, M, Scott, S, Kallitsoglou, A, Ford, T (2011) Factors associated with levels of reading in the HCA trial. Report to DfE. London: NAPR/KCL.


  • Sylva, K, Crook, C, Jelley, F, Price, J (2014) Supporting Parents on Kids’ Education in Schools (SPOKES) Literacy Programme: manual for Group Leaders. Oxford: University of Oxford/King’s College London.

  • Roberts, F (2006) The relationship between oral language skills at age 3 and emergent literacy at ages 4 and 5 (Unpublished dissertation). University of Bath:


  • Department staff


  • Research Officer

Research groups

  • Families, Effective Learning and Literacy (FELL)

01865 284093

Publications, books and other work