Thursday, 17 November 2016

Poet James Nash at Spring Bank Primary School

Into the Dragon's Den by Sally Bavage
No, not budding entrepreneurs but real poets from Ms Ward's year 2 class.  Once again, local councillors have funded the LitFest's programme of poetry workshops with local schools and we were able to commission published poet James Nash to work with the youngsters on the theme of Dragons.

Head Mr Brawley,James Nash, Class 2 teacher Jo Ward
Twenty-eight youngsters read snatches of original poems  to an admiring school audience and a couple of rows of parents/carers.   They all read a snippet of their writing, using the microphone mostly for the first time and persisting in the face of nerves.  A couple of them even adjusted the height of the mike to suit themselves, like pros.  At six!

The excerpts included some beautiful imagery, some comedy and some heart-felt emotions. A small selection:

“Teeth as sharp as a sword blade”
“Ears as pointed as ice cream cones”
“Tail as long as a snake”
“Breath that smells like a burning bonfire”
“My fire smells like apples”
“I breathe in the chilly autumn air and breathe it out as flames”
I breathe burning stars”
“I have a dark side” - a line delivered, to laughs, with all the comic timing of a pro.  At six!

One youngster, a September refugee from Syria who speaks very little English at the moment, took his turn with the class and persisted until he delivered his lines correctly.  Another young chap has severe learning problems and rarely speaks.  Not today; he joined his classmates to perform with the microphone.  A case of Magic Dragon indeed!  (If you can remember Puff – which, as it was released in 1963 I probably shouldn't confess to remembering this).

As Mr Brawley, headteacher, said: “This shows the power of poetry to inspire children to use more sophisticated language and to inspire others in the audience.”  The children “so looked forward to the poet's visits and their confidence has simply soared.  James has drawn out vocabulary that is amazing,” said class assistant Krissy.  Jo Ward, the class 2 teacher, was so pleased that “the quality of vocabulary was stunning, they all want to write new poems now and their writing has shown how much more confident they are.”

Perhaps the last words should go to the children themselves:
Best thing about this project was “working with a real poet” and “making a poem of your own.”
I have learned “how to write better” and “making poems is fun.”
It is good to share your work with other children in the school because “if you were really proud of it, but a bit shy to show everyone, then performing your work means everyone can be proud with you.”
Best memory?  “The happiness of making poems.”

And the happiness will live on as the poems are to be put in a book for the school library so others can read them. Thanks again to Rachel Harkess from Headingley LitFest who went in to help with the poetry workshops

Feedback from Parents

Wonderful poems and some fantastic reading

I enjoyed listening to all the children's poems.  They were all really creative.  I think it is som important for children to enjoy literacy and believe it builds confidence.

The whole school has got so much out of this assembly.  The pride the year 2 class had in their work was gorgeous to see.  Very proud moment.

Wonderful event – absolutely fantastic. Brilliantly hosted and presented by James and spring Bank.  Well done to the teachers too – Mrs Ward!  Simply brilliant.

It was great to see the children read their favourite bits of their poems.  They were really inspired by James Nash!

Excellent poetry reading.  Great for the kids to have the chance to speak in public, a great skill to hae.  Fabulous poetry as well!

Great to hear the children doing some amazing poetry with the poet James Nash.

Really enjoyed performance – impressed with poems and confidence children showed in performing.

Fantastic presentation of lovely poetry.  Thank you!

A wonderful assembly!  Heidi brought home the poem 'Firework the Friendly Dragon' which the whole family enjoyed.  Thank you to James Nash – a wonderful poet.  A brilliant event – more please!!!

Really wonderful event – the kids seemed to get involved.

Wonderful idea!  Great to introduce poetry to kids.  Loved it!

Really enjoyed the event.  Was so lovely to hear year 2 enjoying poetry.

Lovely to hear the children express themselves, use a microphone and perform!!  I hope you have many more such events.

Max has really enjoyed working with James in class to write the poems.  Great to be invited to assembly to hear the poems and see/hear how hard they've been working.  THANK YOU!
PS.  Brilliant delivery in assembly.  Thank you James – wonderful!

It's great to see the enthusiasm of all the kids towards poetry and words.  Always a treat to come into school and see the kids speak with such confidence.

Funded by your local ward councillors of the Inner North West Community Committee

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