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Course aims to boost teaching of writing

Up to 25 British teachers will have a chance to study writing alongside American colleagues later this year, when a new summer institute is launched at Plymouth University, writes Diane Hofkins.

The venture could lead tothe federally-funded American National Writing Project establishing a permanent site at the university.

Dr Robin Peel, English subject leader at Plymouth and joint co-ordinator of the project, hopes it will bring together teachers from different subjects, phases and countries.

"I think we can very easily - quite understandably - become so focused on the national curriculum that we can lose touch with possible curriculum developments that other countries are taking forward," he said.

Dr Peel has written to all UK local authorities, as well as all the further education colleges and universities, asking them to nominate a candidate to attend the course, which will cost Pounds 900, and run from July 8-27. He is also seeking support from British companies.

Those attending the course would then be expected to teach what they have learned to other teachers in their local authorities, in the "cascade" model.

The project has moral support from poet laureate Ted Hughes and Brian Cox, chairman of the Arvon Foundation, which promotes creative writing.

Dr Peel is running the project jointly with Professor Beatrice Naff, of Clemson University in South Carolina.

He emphasises that the course is for all teachers who see the teaching of writing as part of their job. The American courses have included teachers of science and maths, for instance.

The course will include writing projects on the themes of workplace literacy, travel writing, and comparing cultures.

For information, contact Dr Robin Peel, School of humanities and cultural interpretation, University of Plymouth, Faculty of Arts and Education, Douglas Avenue, Exmouth, Devon EX8 2AT. Tel 01395 255411.e-mail: r.peel@plymouth.

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