At our primary school, the English leads are rolling out The Power of Reading, a reading training programme that supports schools in raising engagement and attainment in reading and writing. I have been into school and watched this programme being taught, through exciting texts and imaginative hook lessons. I have talked to children who were brimming with excitement and enthusiasm about reading and writing “we got to draw a picture first”, “we actually wrote a letter to the Prime Minister as if we were a soldier” and “before we even knew what the book was, we turned the playground into a Greek landscape and had tasks to fulfil in order to survive”!
Lesson plans within The Power of Reading programme encourage creativity, they allow children to have a thought and then express it, without constraint, just like we do in our workshops, this is why I am excited about writing in school and the part drama has to play in achieving good and thoughtful work.
In my role as an English link governor, I was also lucky enough to attend an inset staff training day on ‘Inspiring Writing in the class room’. I got to work alongside teachers, describing our feelings about a particular illustration: was or wasn’t the little girl a witch? What was it about her that made us feel the way we did? We talked at length about ways to make space, within a jam packed teaching schedule, for creativity. We talked too about the importance of teachers seeing themselves as writers, something I had not thought about before, but see how it makes perfect sense, children need to see good writing modelled!
I came away excited that children, of all abilities, might get the chance to make the link between what they read and experience and what they themselves will be able to write.
Fairy Tales I Superheroes I Roald Dahl
The aim of a Drama Hut Writing workshop is to help children enjoy the process of writing, providing them with a space to be creative -– as I mentioned earlier, something there is often little time for in the class room. We want to help develop a love of writing, encouraging the children to see themselves as writers. The Centre for literacy in Primary Education has a useful model:
Thought – Inner speech – Oral speech – Written language
A Drama Hut writing workshop comes somewhere in the middle of the above process. Hopefully, children will return to class and their written work, with a new enthusiasm and purpose. Because our sessions are designed to encourage creativity, they therefore engage children in a way that more classroom based, traditional methods, cannot, thus enabling all children access, they are naturally inclusive.
“(drama can provide) a striking immediate route into a fictional situation and help teachers and children to explore texts in an active way, enabling children to ‘live’ through fictions, by involving them in different forms of enactment.”
Susannah Steele and Fiona Collins in The Reader in the Writer, Myra Barrs and Valerie Cork, 2001
Some feedback from schools we have visited with an ’ Inspiring Writing’ workshop:
Every class was delighted with how engaging and professionally prepared the actor was.
The fact that the actor arrived dressed in character and was confident and engaging and at no time needed to refer to a script in their delivery of an engaging and interactive performance. Simply outstanding.
Hartlip Endwed Primary School
Thank you – the children were engaged, were able to use their knowledge and learn new information in a fun way.You brought ‘A Christmas Carol’ to life!
St Bernadette’s Catholic Primary School
Tailored extremely well to the ability of our SEN students. They all loved it and remained engaged throughout. Such a great workshop and lots of different activities. The material was completely age appropriate and related to the scheme of work the children have been studying.
Fun, Loud (!!!) and they got to express themselves in any way they wanted.
I would highly recommend the workshop to other schools and will be inviting the Drama Hut back to Meadow.
Meadow High School
A very enjoyable day taught by a great person. I would not hesitate to recommend your company. Many thanks.
Woodlands School Hutton Manor
Rebecca Gibbs Jan 2020