Spark Writers in Schools
Spark Writers in Schools is our programme of work with children and young people in schools, academies and colleges. We also work directly with teachers and parents who are particularly interested in the long-term development of writers in schools work.
“This project gave me (as the class teacher) ideas for making writing more enjoyable and interactive and also prompted other staff to be more creative, e.g. using outdoor space as a classroom. The parents who came to the workshop enjoyed the experience. It was a really worthwhile experience for the children and me – thank you!” – Perry Common Junior and Infant School, Birmingham.
What it will cost and getting started
Our Spark Writers in Schools activity generally has a cost attached to cover writer fees and expenses (our administration costs are covered by our funding from Arts Council England and others). Our fees for Spark Writers, negotiated directly with the author, are in region of £250 to £400 +VAT per day depending on the demands of the project and the level of preparation necessary.
All fees will also be subject to VAT and the writers travel expenses. We only invoice on the satisfactory completion of a project.
To start working with us please complete our registration of interest form online by clicking here. If you’d like more information about Spark Writers in Schools, please contact Jonathan Davidson or Emma Boniwell on 0121 246 2770 or email jonathan[at]writingwestmidlands.org.
How we work with schools, academies and colleges
We find wonderfully imaginative ways for professional writers to help children and young people discover and develop a passion for creative writing. We work closely with teaching staff to ensure that our creative writing activities are a perfect fit. Activities range from single days to longer projects, sometimes involving writers working across a whole school through visits across several terms. Our writers might work with several classes to introduce them to different aspects of creative writing or with smaller groups to concentrate on aspects of creative writing directly linked to the curriculum. We often work with clusters of schools, including combinations of primary and secondary, and have very good contacts with other arts organisations allowing us to work with other art-forms alongside creative writing. We always offer support to teaching staff (inset sessions, etc.) and regularly share work with parents. We organise planning meetings with our writers and teaching staff and encourage writers to visit schools, academies and colleges before their work starts.
Who we work with and how they benefit
We work with children and young people of all abilities. Those who are gifted and talented benefit from working with a writer who can model the creative drafting, editing and re-editing process and share their career development. Children who are reluctant writers benefit from working with writers who use games and activities to trigger an interest in using language creatively, often through performing writing or shared writing. Our writers who are also dramatists or storytellers enjoy working with children with English as a second language or who come from marginalised communities in which sharing stories is a route to writing. Teaching staff benefit from working closely with professional writers who bring into the school community a real sense of the joys and disciplines of earning a living from writing.
“The children showed a huge level of enthusiasm and a lot of respect towards the writer. They became excellent talkers of their own writing and listened intently to others. What an excellent project! I have enjoyed every moment and loved seeing the children shine. They have all developed into really creative writers full of enthusiasm.” Regents Park Community Primary School, Birmingham.
Why our writers are so inspirational
Our writers are all experienced, professional writers working in a range of forms and genres, from writing picture books for young children to screenplays for feature films. As they work with us to support the creativity of children and young people, we do not limit ourselves to those who write just for children, although many of them are excellent children’s writers. All our writers have experience in working with children and young people in a range of settings. They have a range of techniques they use to inspire new writing and are happy to share their own experiences as professional writers. They are involved in regular skill-sharing sessions organised by Writing West Midlands, giving them an opportunity to share new ideas and activities with their peers. Most are members of the National Association of Writers in Education and all have enhanced DBS checks (formerly CRB). We also run a mentoring and shadowing scheme for emerging writers who would like to develop the skills necessary to work with children and young people.
“The children loved Peter [Peter Wynne-Wilson, the writer]. We created an online blog which enabled Peter to communicate with us when he wasn’t in school. He raised the profile of writing, especially for boys. The parents were very impressed with Peter and the work we had done with him” – Parkfield Primary School, Wolverhampton.
Support we can offer to teachers and other staff
We want to help schools and colleges build sustainable skills in teaching creative writing. As well as welcoming the close involvement of teaching staff in our all work, we also offer ‘staff as writers’ workshops which can take place as twilight sessions alongside work with children and young people and Inset sessions on creative writing which can be run as stand-alone activities. Over the years many of the teachers we have worked with have produced wonderful pieces of writing as well as picking up really valuable classroom techniques for sustaining an interest in creative writing – although, of course, we believe that there is nothing like having a professional writer in the classroom for generating enthusiasm!
If you are a writer interested in working in education, see the information page provided by NAWE (National Association of Writers in Education), written by Roz Goddard, Getting Started as a Writer in Education.