Sheila Chapman writes:
Imagine being abe to visit another world. “Go to an optician's and put on special glasses.” “Step into a painting.” Just two of the ideas from members of year 5 at Quarry Mount primary school when replying to the challenge set them by James Nash, the local writer and poet commissioned by Headingley LitFest to run a series of workshops on writing and performing original poetry.
|James Nash with headteacher Rebecca Pettman|
The celebration assembly was a delightful end to the half term and included recognition for Attendances Winners, Rainbow Points winners and Homework Champions as well as the finale to the poetry work based on this half term's work on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis. Each year group bases homework on a theme from literature, and in this half term classes considered The Gruffalo, Jungle Book, Harry Potter, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Lightning Thief as well as the visit to Narnia. Wow. And even better that this visit was in warm sunshine rather than the more appropriate wintry snow that has greeted our visits to Quarry Mount in previous years!
So the entire school heard 26 budding poets from Ms Blackstone's year 5 class read out either their whole poem or a favourite line. No fluffs, no hesitation, seemingly no nerves. Fantastic, considering an audience of 200 included all pupils, all staff, parents and other visitors. “When you're rising ten years old this is a tremendous opportunity to develop performance skills at the end of the workshops that help with self-confidence, co-operation with peers and cross-curricular writing that brings the curriculum to life.” Helen Smith also added with pride that some of the pupils with special needs had memorised their lines and performed their work flawlessly.
Rebecca Pettman, the (relatively) new headteacher, was most enthusiastic about the value of the work to individual students: “This was a fantastic opportunity for the children - to work with a poet, with someone from a creative background who they might not often have the opportunity to meet. This is especially important for our children who are from a range of cultures and who live in an area of high deprivation and may not often have access to such a person.
”More than half of this class speak English as a second language and it is vital for them to develop confidence in their abilities to write and read their own words. Performance is an essential life skill too; we are so grateful to James for the calm and gentle way he encourages original writing and instils the self-belief that they all have an inner poet. Thank you.”
The children should have the last words:
I walked the highest mountain
Red as a ruby
Beautiful singing like harmonising from birds
I can see sun and seagulls
The waterfall is coming
The dragon is my friend
A secret place where no one will go
A giant castle filled with sweets
The best bit?
“Spending time with a real poet.”
“Getting feedback from others in my class.”
“Showing me how to make more of my ideas.”
Contact details for James Nash:
Contact details for James Nash:
A Bit of an Ice Breaker out now on Amazon kindle.
My new collection from Valley Press.
Some Things Matter:63 sonnets