Monday, 14 March 2016

St Crispin's

Last Thursday, I spent a brilliantly creative morning with Years 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 at St. Crispin's in Leicester.

Now, I've done author visits and creative writing sessions for younger pupils, (Like when I went to St. Michael's or ran a storytelling day at a local primary school) but this was my first foray into KS3... I was a little apprehensive, more from a point of view of maintaining discipline than anything else, because I know from teacher friends and my own children how hard it can be to keep that age interested and occupied.

Anyway, I arrived, finally found somewhere to park (I had to nip out after an hour to move the car, as I ended up in a limited time parking bay - not good for an all morning session. Thank you Mr L for moving your car so I didn't end up with a parking ticket!), and booked in.

The school is lovely - a small independent school with around 120 pupils between nursery and Y11, so class sizes are small; Y9 had four pupils... It's situated in two enormous Victorian villas, so there are a lot of steps and big high-ceilinged rooms, but I was in the library. (Glad to see an amazing array of books, with some really interesting fiction on offer.)

We started with a Q&A session, which Y5 & 6 gatecrashed. It was great though - some really good, intelligent questions were asked, about whether I wrote about my children (no...well, not that they would notice!), what was my favourite story I'd written (Granny Rainbow and the Black Shadow - responsible for a lot of things, that story), who was my favourite author (Terry Pratchett) and had I ever given up on writing (yes, after I got a really bad report from an editor after she read the first version of StarMark). And many more...

Y5 & 6 would've been happy to ask questions all morning, I think, but the KS3 bods had some work to do. I'd been asked for sessions on character development and creating settings, which I was happy to provide.

The twenty eight pupils were brilliant. They threw themselves into the tasks wholeheartedly, and came up with some really strong ideas. The character who stuck in my head was the assassin who would only ever eat red things because it reminded him of blood... and the setting I couldn't forget was the cottage in the woods, with the eerie strains of 'I'm a Barbie girl' heard coming from the trees...

We didn't have enough time to read out the end results, when the pupils put their characters into their settings, but I hope the children will continue to work on them.

We were all so busy, I didn't take any pictures at all, but Mrs M took a few snaps - here's one of me reading from 'A Seeming Glass', when I was trying to explain how you could dribble the description of a setting into a scene rather than describe everything up front.

One thing that astounded me was that every pupil over Y8 takes part in NaNoWriMo! At which point I applauded them, because I can't stick to the discipline of writing every day. I come close, but it doesn't work for me to be that strict with myself. I look forward to seeing what they produce this November - who knows, perhaps we'll have to get together again, have an editing session?

The morning was over way too soon. Thank you to everyone at St Crispin's who made me feel so welcome and shared my love of writing by creating such brilliant work! 

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