Teacher Stacy Walsh
ran the programme for one of the school’s Year 8 English sets who were
failing to achieve their potential.
In charge of the shy and quiet group of 28 students who were disengaged with creative writing, Stacy wanted to inspire her class to explore the poetry genre and feel confident about performing in front of a group. She said: “The pupils had very negative attitudes to poetry and were reluctant to write and read out their work in front of a class, so this exciting programme which brings poetry to life really appealed.”
As part of the programme, teachers receive a resource pack which uses the expertise of local poets and teachers, as well as school practitioners and poet Francesca Beard. Featuring fun activities for focused sessions, the pack includes work by local contemporary poets and spoken word artists including Joolz Denby and Dumi Senda.
To build pupils’ confidence, several ‘ice-breaker’ activities involving photography and drawing were introduced, as well as ‘free-writing’ – a technique used by professional poets who write their thoughts about an object or issue without stopping for five minutes, then structure the words into a poem.
Local poet, Saju Iqbal and lyricist and rapper, Imran Hafeez, the National Literacy Trust Hub in Bradford’s Manager visited the school and had children enthralled as they performed their own work, explained their writing and performance methods and talked about their inspirations.
Stacy found that this visit was valuable for igniting an enthusiasm for poetry amongst her pupils.
She said: “The programme has helped strengthen our links with the community through the opportunity for pupils to read about and meet local poets who they can relate to. It’s also provided an open platform for pupils to explore their identity and discuss issues such as self-esteem – this outcome has been so insightful and has really given pupils a confidence boost.”
At first, one
pupil, Katie Stranney, aged 12, didn’t enjoy writing and refused to get
involved in performing poetry: “Before starting this programme, I thought
poetry was boring and confusing. Now, after meeting people who use it to
express their identity, I actually enjoy writing in my spare time and I’m not
worried about reading my poems aloud in front of an audience. I would
definitely encourage other young people to have a go at trying these fun
activities to write their own poetry - it’s a great way to talk about
Over the course of the programme, Stacy has noticed a positive transformation in pupils’ attitudes to writing and performing their written work. She said: “The programme has been brilliant – the most enjoyable for me so far and I’ve already delivered quite a few literacy programmes. My pupils are so proud of their work and I love reading and hearing the poetry they’ve written outside of class just because they enjoy it and want to improve.”