In the news - Paul Munden

22nd April 2011 at 01:00

Paul Munden is director of the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE), an organisation that trains professional authors and poets to work in school classrooms. The Arts Council has just announced that from next year it will cut its entire grant of #163;137,000 to the NAWE.

#163;137,000 doesn't sound like a lot of money

It represents half the association's budget, a cut that Mr Munden says will jeopardise its future. "We are an extremely lean organisation, without an office, and everyone involved works from their own base," he says. "But the Arts Council grant has been absolutely fundamental."

So that's the end of that, then?

Not necessarily. "There is no official right of appeal, but we are fighting the decision," he says. "We are determined to survive, but it is very hard to know how this is going to work."

Why should schools care?

"If we closed, they wouldn't be able to ask us for advice on using writers in the classroom, or have a straightforward means of getting hold of a writer with a guarantee that they will be prepared, supported by a professional body and know what they are doing in the classroom."

Does having a writer in school make an impact?

Mr Munden says research, with classes without contact with a writer used as controls, shows it does. Not only did the writers raise average pupil achievement in writing in primaries by up to one national curriculum level, but: "The feedback we got from pupils through the research was that they had gained enormously in confidence. Many pupils said it was the highlight of their time in school."

Does the association have any outside support?

Lots. Writers including Michael Rosen, Ian McMillan, Jackie Kay, Beverley Naidoo, Ros Barber and Helen Dunmore are all rallying to the cause, alongside the National Association for the Teaching of English and academics from as far afield as Switzerland, Australia and the US.

What does the Arts Council have to say?

"The NAWE makes a valuable contribution in developing creative writing ... Unfortunately they did not demonstrate how they would contribute to the Arts Council's goals, or meet our governance criteria, as strongly as other applications we received. With limited funds available we had to make some very difficult choices."

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