Poetry programme producing budding bards in Bradford

27 Sep 2016

The National Literacy Trust Hub in Bradford is fostering a love of creative writing and performing in Bradford’s youngsters through the launch of an exciting literacy programme called Our Stories aimed at pupils aged 10–13 years.

 The programme feeds into one of the objectives of the National Literacy Trust Hub in Bradford to improve literacy skills in the district by inspiring and motivating reluctant writers, especially boys, to do more creative writing. Developed in partnership with local poets, Bradford Museums and Galleries, Bradford Council’s Music and Arts Service and the Bradford Literature Festival, the initiative offers a range of opportunities for youngsters to explore the poetry genre, as well as writing and performance poetry techniques.

The programme includes:

  • A  resource pack for teachers- Imran Hafeez, Manager of the National Literacy Trust Hub in Bradford has channelled his passion for creative writing and performance into developing a resource pack for teachers, using the expertise of local poets and  eachers, as well as  schools practitioner and poet Francesca Beard. The resource pack features fun activities for focused sessions that correspondto National Curriculum literacy requirements across Years 6-8 and includes work by local contemporary poets and spoken word artists including Joolz Denby and Dumi Senda.

  • Visits from local poets –poetry is being brought to life through workshops run by Imran Hafeez and local poet, Saju Iqbal Ahmed at Dixons Allerton Academy, University Academy Keighley, Hanson Primary School and Horton Park Primary School.

A focus on local museums and galleries as a stimulus for writing. Visits will involve:

  • A literacy activity called the ‘Art and Science of Noticing’ developed by Bradford Museums and Galleries’ learning team which gives children the freedom to choose what to explore in their collections through drawing and poetry.

  • A Take Over Day at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery based on the national ‘Kids in Museums’ initiative which develops pupils’ literacy skills by taking over some of the jobs in the gallery.

  • Music workshops – Music tutor Beccy Owen will run workshops with pupils to engage them in performing and recording their own work.

After the initial sessions, teachers from Dixons Allerton Academy, University Academy Keighley, Hanson Primary School and Horton Park Primary School have already reported a rise in enthusiasm for poetry amongst pupils who are reluctant writers.

Stacy Walsh, a Year 6 teacher at Hanson Primary School said:

“Youngsters have really enjoyed working collaboratively to produce poems and perform their own pieces which I can see is really building their confidence in voicing their own thoughts and experiences in a creative way. It's really  rewarding to see students who previously were so disengaged, and so turned off from poetry, actually being active participants and arguing over who gets to perform first! Such a great response is a massive testament to how good the resource is.”

Imran Hafeez, Manager of the National Literacy Trust Hub in Bradford said:

“We’re thrilled by the positive response we’ve already had from schools for this programme which aims to make  poetry accessible, fun and inclusive for pupils of all abilities. Introducing drawing, games, music and museums and galleries as prompts to spark ideas really helps children tap into their creativity and explore their identity through the written and spoken word. Collaboration and performance is key, so we’re delighted children are sharing their work with such enthusiasm.

The National Literacy Trust Hub in Bradford is all about harnessing the wonderful talents and resources we have in the community to inspire young people and families to engage with literacy, so we’re very pleased to have Bradford Museums and Galleries, Bradford Council’s Music and Arts Service and the Bradford Literature Festival supporting our work.”

Year 5 and Year 6 teacher at Horton Park Primary School, Shahnaz Bi said:

“Poetry is great for stimulating creativity and enhancing vocabulary, so this programme really appealed. It offers a plenty of inspiration, including  local role models which children can relate to, cultural experiences and the opportunity for students to enjoy collaborating and performing. We’re looking forward to seeing their communication skills develop.”

Poet, Saju Iqbal Ahmed said:

“My experience of learning poetry in school tended to be boring, the same poems were looked at over and over which killed my enjoyment. Without the enjoyment I was unable to understand the meaning. I was introduced to Khadijah Ibrahim who became my mentor in creative writing by using a mix of old and new poets as well as hip hop for the modern era of poetry to show that there is no difference in expression. I then joined Leeds Young Authors and I have the privilege to perform all the over the world

I enjoy helping young people find out who they are and become  the definition they feel confident with through creative writing. What I love most is re-igniting their imaginations, and see their eyes open wide with pride that they have managed to write a poem which is all theirs to keep and to share. I love to see their confidence grow.”