The wow! factor

1st October 2004 at 01:00
Windows, an independent educational charity, was set up to send writers into play schemes in 1976. It has grown to run about 800 sessions a year in schools across the North West and sometimes further afield. Kevin McCann is one of 25 writers on the charity's register who work with schools. Windows gets more than 10,000 hits a month on its website. Schools work out their requirements (performance or workshop, one-off event or a series of events, curriculum aims) and Windows takes care of all the practicalities.

It has produced a schools resource pack and can help tailor a programme.

"Teachers need to pinpoint who will benefit most because a writer can't deliver to a whole school in a day," says Siobhan Twomey, education officer. "And that's where we can offer our expertise. To be creative is to be human. It is almost a need, and one that the government is recognising has to be incorporated into the curriculum. If a school wants to get its literacy levels up, a poet like Kevin provides that extra wow factor for around the same cost per day as a supply teacher. We've been lucky with Forest on a Leaf because Knowsley has an excellent arts unit and partnerships are key to our work."


Tel: 0151 709 3688

The Write On! project is a year-round programme run by the Orange Birmingham Book Festival. About 15 writers work in 60 schools over the year, recruited through Birmingham, Solihull and Staffordshire local education authorities (individual schools should approach their LEA first).

The project will soon be extended into Wolverhampton. The package offered to schools includes writing workshops for teachers and parents, and celebratory events at the end of each term. Funding usually comes from schools and LEAs, underpinned by Arts Council England.

Write On! project manager Jonathan Davidson also has three journalists available for schools work. "Anyone who uses language creatively and can inspire children could be a role model to give an understanding of how writing can be used in adult lives," he says.

Write On! is administered for the Orange Birmingham Book Festival by Book Communications, an independent agency that offers project management, training, research, marketing and fundraising, focusing on creative writing and reading.

The Orange Birmingham Book Festival runs from October 7-22. See Contact Book Communications

Tel: 0121 246 2770


* See today's Friday magazine for a feature on Sunderland's EAZ-wide writing project with New Writing North


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