Laureate calls up the troops for poetry war

25th February 2000 at 00:00
Student teachers are to be instructed on how to bring verse alive. Sarah Cassidy reports

AN ARMY of poets is to be sent into teacher-training colleges to show student teachers how to bring poetry into the classroom.

The project is the result of relentless lobbying by Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate, whose first act on his appointment in May was to call for a poetry to be revived in Britain's schools.

Andrew Motion, professor of creative writing at the University of East Anglia, has said he is

troubled by children's lack of interest in poetry and pledged to make promoting verse in schools a priority.

Previous projects have taken poets into the classroom, but this initiative aims to reach more children by enthusing teachers.

At his first public engagement as Poet Laureate, Professor Motion explained the problem facing poetry in schools.

He said: "I think a lot of teachers find it difficult to teach. I think parents find it difficult to understand.I think children feel it has got nothing to do with them."

He expressed his disappointment that his own children, Jesse, 12, and 11-year-old twins, Sidoine and Luke, spent little time on poetry in their schools.

Professor Motion is due to launch the project next month with Education Secretary David Blunkett at Morpeth school, in Bethnal Green, London.

The initiative, to be run by the Poetry Society and funded with pound;83,000 from the Department for Education and Employment, will include a website with advice on how to bring poetry to life as well as offering teachers in-service training. The project will run for at least a year.

Christina Patterson, director of the Poetry Society, said: "The project is about developing pupils' imaginative lives rather than just improving their literacy."

Many teachers do not feel confident about teaching poetry, she said. "There is a long history of putting poets into schools but this is about inspiring teachers."

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