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Authors unite to fight grant cut to writers in education

Well-known authors and poets, including Michael Rosen, Ian McMillan and Jackie Kay, have joined English teachers and academics from around the world to fight cuts to an organisation that trains writers to work in UK schools.

The National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) says its future has been jeopardised because the Arts Council is cutting its entire grant.

The association has helped prepare writers for classroom talks and workshops for 25 years. But director Paul Munden said it stood to lose half its budget from next year following last week's Arts Council decision, which it is appealing.

"We have established a significant national community of writers with passionate educational ideals, skilled in developing the next generation," he said. "We believe that is something too important to be destroyed."

Michael Rosen, a former children's laureate, said the cut was "a serious blow to creative and informative writing at all levels".

Poet Ian McMillan said: "We live in a strange world when a wonderful organisation such as NAWE can have its funding cut completely; we have been living through a golden age of participatory writing, partly due to NAWE's great work in promoting writing in all forms of education."

Jackie Kay, another poet, said the decision was "depressing and shocking". Beverley Naidoo, Ros Barber and Helen Dunmore are among the other writers objecting, alongside academics from as far afield as Switzerland, Australia and the US.

Ian McNeilly, chief executive of the National Association for the Teaching of English (NATE), said it was sad, angry and frustrated at the "short-sighted decision".

Mr Munden said schools could suffer. "There are a lot of writers who approach schools directly and fancy themselves as being able to do that (teaching) work," he said.

"But that is not necessarily the case and it can be more about self-promotion. We mean that teachers brave enough to spend their money on this can be assured of getting valuable work."

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