Teaching primary pupils to write is a creative act, says Costa prize-winning teacher

Teacher from Barking wins writing prize for short story about family relations

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The day after Luan Goldie – a primary school teacher from Barking – won the Costa Short Story Award, she didn’t have to go into school.

“I had a three-hour maths moderation meeting,” Ms Goldie, a Year 2 teacher, said. “That bought me back to reality. The night before, I had spent drinking champagne with posh women in Mayfair.”

Her short story, Two Steak Bakes and Two Chelsea Buns – about a woman taking lunch to her widowed dad – won first prize and £3,500 in the prestigious awards earlier this term.

Ms Goldie, a former journalist, enjoyed creative writing at school in Hackney and had begun a creative writing degree before switching to journalism.

Costa winner and teacher

But she found that after writing all day, the last thing she wanted to do in her spare time was to stare at a screen – and it was only when she moved into teaching six years later that she started writing for fun again.

“I was in school and enjoying it, but I needed something outside of teaching, because teaching can so easily take over your whole life.”

She didn’t write Two Steak Bakes and Two Chelsea Buns specifically for the award. The 4,000-word story had been written on and off over several years, while she also worked on writing novels. She now has an agent and is looking for a publisher for her novel, which she describes as “book club fiction”.

So does her success help her teach writing? The spelling, grammar and punctuation test in Year 2 is optional, but her class is going to take it. “For children, testing is a part of their life, they are going to have to do it. They don’t have to be scared of it. For the rest of the time we do a creative curriculum.

“But you do have to know how to teach literacy in a really, really creative way to get children to understand all the things they need to know without killing writing for them.”

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