The deadline for the second TES Write Away competition is almost upon us. By the end of the month, the National Association for the Teaching of English will have received scripts from primary and secondary schools all over the UK and judging will begin. Once again McDonald's Restaurants are supplying the prizes which, this year, will include a matinee at Shakespeare's Globe in Southwark, south London, and funding for a writer's residence at the winners' schools.
How did last year's schools fare? Whitchurch Community College in Buckinghamshire, whose pupil Rosie Seager was a winner, invited poet Andrew Collett to the school in the autumn term. Rosie's teacher, Janet Bayley, says that it "was very successful; he was very animated and on the children's wavelength". First he addressed the whole school and then he took workshops, using his own writing as a starting-point.
At Katharine, Lady Berkeley's School in Gloucestershire, Anthony Masters brought along his "Book Explosion" for a day with Year 8. Pauline Thomas, winner Elizabeth Rowden's teacher, was delighted with the mixture of drama and creative writing. "He began with trust and warm-up games, got them to choose leaders and to imagine exploring a dark tower. He was particularly successful in getting imaginative work out of reluctant boys." And there is still enough of the pound;400 prize money left to invite along another writer.
At Robert May's School in Hampshire, where Richard Shepherd wrote about his love of jazz, his teacher Veronica Beck and her head of department John Teasey have dreamt up an apposite scheme.
A West Indian poet already known to the school, Martin Glynn from Handsworth in Birmingham, is going to be working with Richard and the music department towards an evening of words and music. This will be part of a celebration of music and poetry during the first week of March, when Martin Glynn will also take poetry workshops with other Year 8 pupils.
Performance is integral to the curriculum at Robert May's and everyone in the lower school takes part in drama and music, so the scene is set for a heady mixture of language, rhythm, steel bands and jazz. John Teasey says the pound;400 will cover about half of this, but the school is happy to contribute as much again for something so enjoyable and worthwhile.