Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Poet James Nash at Spring Bank Primary School

Spring Bank find their inspiration

James Nash writes:


’m working with Year 3 at Spring Bank Primary School, and they are looking at me as if I’m a rare and exotic specimen. I might be the first writer they have actually met. I introduce myself and see them begin to relax a little as I talk about my work as a writer, showing them copies of the newspapers and magazines I have written for and the stories and the collections of poetry I have had published over the years.  I talk about inspiration and imagination and the importance of observation for the writer.

And then I introduce the object shrouded in a cotton bag which they are going to write about, something which I hope will pique their imagination and lead to them being inspired to write a poem.  The battered old trumpet [pictured] has proved itself over the years as a great starting point for writers of every age.

We write down our observations in response to a series of loose and open-ended questions I ask them, stressing that as we are unable to pass it around as we might have done in the past, we have to call on out imaginations even more to describe what it looks, sounds, feels, smells and tastes like; using our five senses in fact.  We think about what its story might be too.

Throughout this first session the young people have opportunities to stand and read their responses to the rest of the class and it is good to see how many of them are feeling brave enough to do this.

On my next visit class teacher Luke Wrankmore has used the image of the trumpet and my questions to get the children to become even more engaged in the writing.  I talk about the importance of editing and redrafting and show them my first and final drafts of my trumpet poem, and talk about the questions I often ask myself when I am rewriting.

‘What am I trying to say?

Have I started in the right place?

Have I used the best words and phrases I can?’

Again we share our writing, reading to each other, and the emerging poems are brilliant. 

The final session where we make a filmed performance of our pieces sadly has to be postponed [due to a positive Covid test result] until next week, but I am confident that they will be complete stars.

Let me end with some words from Sarah Hawes, the headteacher of Spring Bank Primary School.

‘It has been wonderful to be able to welcome James back into Spring Bank to work with our Year 3 children.  The poetry work he does with them is so invaluable and their level of engagement and enthusiasm for poetry is very evident in the work they produce; this lasts well beyond James’ visit. As a head it’s wonderful to see how engaged our children are with James and his poetry and the worlds of language that this opens up for them.  This is especially important given our current situation and the pressures the children have been under – the ability to express their feelings through poetry feels ever more important.

Thank you, James for enabling them to explore, enjoy, engage and love poetry’.

And from Jo Ward, Literacy Coordinator

"It's so valuable, and even more so in these unusual times, for children to actually meet and talk to a published, working writer and to have the opportunity to work with one. It's always wonderful to see children make that connection, realise that their own words are just as precious and to be able to then have the confidence to say they are writers too!"

And from me,

‘Year 3, under the able leadership of Luke Wrankmore, once again worked with enthusiasm and creativity.  The writing exercise was sophisticated and subtle and they rose to the occasion, sharing their work with each other at every step of the way, performing brilliantly as they grew in confidence’.

 29 June 2021

Year 3 at Spring Bank Primary School were in performing mode this morning, taking their chairs and poems into the school yard to give an inspiring reading. As they read class teacher Luke Wrankmore took photographs of them to be used later as a series of Tweets from the school. It was the perfect culmination of their superb writing efforts.

7 July 2021

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