Sunday, 10 February 2019

Wild Weather Indeed!

Gail Alvarez writes:
The poetry assembly at Spring Bank primary school on Friday 8th February was aptly themed on Wild Weather.  Which, as parents of year 3 blew in on Storm Erik, was a curtain-raiser for the tales to come of gales, tornadoes, blizzards, flooding, rain and much else besides. 

Luke Wrankmore, James Nash, Sarah Hawes
A burst of sunshine illuminated the packed  hall where the entire school was assembled to hear the youngsters perform their own original poetry.  Thirty parents, fifteen staff and all your peers from reception up to year 6 form an intimidating audience when you are only rising seven.  And rising in confidence too under the calm support of LitFest-commissioned local writer and poet James Nash, supported by LitFest volunteer Rachel Harkess. 

James introduced their work and got them reading out favourite lines or sometimes the whole poem, nerves banished and pride in their achievements clear on their faces.  Imagine being asked to imagine yourself as the weather, with opportunities to create or destroy, to entertain or spoil.  We had humour, pathos, violence, caring, disaster and luck. 

“Their confidence has grown, sometimes amazingly so, over the project,” said Luke Wrankmore, year 3 teacher who always enjoys working with James.  He had had parents coming in to tell him of youngsters talking excitedly about their work at home, growing interest in writing and increasing confidence in reading aloud to them.  And this was clearly confirmed by the many parents in the audience.  “Much more enthusiastic about his writing.”  “So pleased with his confidence in reading his own work out to me.”  “She has been writing her own poetry in bed.”  “For the first time he has learned the whole thing off by heart so he can recite in a language he didn't speak before we came here last September.”

Sarah Hawes, new headteacher at the school, was really delighted with how the youngsters performed.  Although she has worked with authors and poets before, she had really appreciated the difference these poetry workshops made as they led to other skills encompassed by reading aloud to a large audience. “I am so impressed with the improvements in language used, the collaboration with other children in the class and the different dynamic in their work together.”  

She felt that “Poetry is often under-rated and yet this project has been able to contribute to our school community, with year 2 looking on in anticipation of being able to do the same next year.”

And what did they like about the project?  The usual comments about getting to know how to write better, how to perform their original words, enjoying learning and using new vocabulary as well as being proud to share with classmates.  “I don't know if I've ever met a poet before!” kind of sums up the novelty of the encounter deepening the learning.

Final word to one youngster, when asked if he had enjoyed the work. “Yeah!!” with such emphasis  that he and his body language couldn't speak more clearly.

Grateful thanks once again to the Inner North West Area Management Committee for granting us the funding to support this work.

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