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Poetry brings a class together

Class poets

When Nasen (the national special needs association) decided to run its first ever poetry competition earlier this year, its inspiration was two pupils from Whitfield and Aspen primary school in Dover.

One was Lucy Berry, 11, who has cerebral palsy and is based in the school's special unit for children with severe and profound learning difficulties; the other was Bethany Jagger, 9, her best friend, who wrote a poem about their friendship and sent it off to Nasen.

As a result, Nasen decided to run a poetry competition on the subject of inclusion, and the entry from Lucy's KS2 class at Whitfield and Aspen, entirely written in symbols, was one of the winners.

Lucy's teacher, who happens also to be Bethany's mother, co-ordinated the children's collaborative poem.

"There were 16 children involved," she says. "We sat down and talked about what they liked about our school, which is a place where inclusion really works. There's a little boy who says 'Right!" after everything, so we made that part of the poem. One of the children talked about being told off like everyone else, and another that you could have your dinner on a tray like everyone else."

When the school heard the poem was highly commended, Lucy and Bethany were sent to Birmingham to accept the prize on behalf of the class. It was, says Mrs Jaggers, "a pure example of inclusion. The point of the poem and the school is that children of very different abilities are working together, writing poems, and that all of them are writers, all of them contribute."

Other Nasen primary winners were from St Thomas More school, Leicester, and Finton House school, London. Secondary winners were from Ravenscliffe high school, Halifax, St Augustine's RC high school, Clitheroe, and Sir Thomas Picton school, Haverfordwest.

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