In November 2018, I was lucky enough to attend two days of training with the National Literacy Trust to update and improve my skills as a writing workshop facilitator in schools.
The course was based in Victoria Park Primary School, an absolutely lovely school in Bristol, and facilitated by Fay and Tim from the National Literacy Trust, and novelist and teacher Wyl Menmuir.
The course is aimed at writers of any genre who have at least one professional complete publication (so a book of poems as opposed to one single poem, for example). Writers with no experience of teaching or schools are as welcome as writers with school experience. Most importantly, it’s essential to want to work with young writers. See the NLT website for the course criteria.
The National Literacy Trust’s website describes School for Writers as follows:
The course will help you:
- increase your knowledge about schools, the curriculum and educational practices
- develop the skills to deliver creative, relevant and engaging sessions for children and young people
- support you in establishing yourself as a practitioner in the market
The training includes:
- expert training, including a visit from an expert who regularly delivers workshops for young people
- connection with a local organisation who can support your career development
- opportunities to practise delivering activities in a local school, with support and feedback
- DBS check by the National Literacy Trust
Six of us met in November: four children’s writers, one novelist and one poet, and under the expert guidance of Wyl, we learned how to plan a twenty-minute workshop, delivered the workshop to a classroom of pupils (thank you, pupils and teachers at Victoria Park School!) and received detailed feedback from one of the course facilitators, as well as from teachers and students in the class. Additionally, we considered what we are able to offer as a writer in a school and learned how to market ourselves so that schools understand our skill set and how their pupils will benefit.
Since 2012, as I’ve written about on this blog, I’ve run several writing workshops for young people in primary and secondary schools, as well as in community settings such as Trowbridge Town Hall and, in the 2017 – 2018 school year, I was Writer in Residence at St Gregory’s Catholic College in Bath. I found School for Writers extremely helpful and I feel that my teaching skills have been updated and improved. I also feel more confident about developing new workshops and better able to communicate my ‘offer’ as a writer in school.
I’m looking forward to putting my new knowledge and skills into practice with more school workshops in the future. Take a look at the National Literacy Trust website for news of when the course is running – so far, it’s been offered in London, Bristol and Leeds.
Thank you to my fellow participants, and to Wyl, Fay and Tim for a brilliant course.