Saturday, 22 October 2011

Wigan and Wells

I've been fortunate to visit schools in Wigan twice this month. There must be many wildlife enthusiasts in Wigan!

Abraham Guest High School

At the first school, Abraham Guest High School I was made to feel very welcome by students and staff. The students had produced a great Sky Hawk display and there was great enthusiasm for ospreys and wildlife. I shared a creative writing workshop with students too, and there were loads of fantastic ideas flying many ideas just in an hour...far many more than most authors come up with in a week!

We were so busy that regrettably I forgot to take photos of the amazing display the students had produced for Sky Hawk. They had produced some terrific wildlife writing too.

One of the really great things about Abraham Guest High School, a newly built school, is that it has incorporated the community library into the school building. Students have access to a wide range of books and audiotapes and reference books. It was great to see the library packed with children at lunch time and after school! Absolute proof that libraries are essential for schools and communities. Mixed into this, of course were some very enthusiastic librarians. At a time of library cuts and closures (my local library in now only open 2 days a week) it is refreshing to see libraries, librarians, teachers and students having the opportunity to share books and instill and develop a love of reading. Maybe politicians who view libraries as a superfluous waste of money should visit Abraham Guest and see for themselves the benefits of books...not just for increasing literacy levels, but for sharing stories and finding out about the wider world.

So a big thank you to staff and students at Abraham Guest High School for two fantastic days working with you.

Wells Festival of Literature 2011

I felt hugely honoured to be invited to talk at the Wells Festival of Literature. It's been a successful year again for Wells. There have been some big names, children's authors and local authors including Matt Frei, Melvynn Bragg, Pam Ayres, Shirley Williams, Gillian Cross, Emma Craigie...the list goes on.

As I descended into Wells, the cathedral was lit in the golden light of an autumn evening. It was stunning. Children from various schools in Wells came along and asked some very interesting questions too. I received a lovely ceramic plaque of Wells Cathedral and and anthology of poems shortlisted from this year's competition. I know which one I'm voting for!

Back to Wigan and Winstanley Community School

I had a fantastic day yesterday. Again, both pupils and staff had put a huge amount of time and effort into making me feel very welcome. The children had been working hard on an osprey Sky Hawk display and have been plotting Ozwold's journey. They were delighted that they were the first to hear of Ozwold's safe arrival in Spain...the news came in from Roy Dennis during assembly.

I was impressed by the art work and writing the pupils had produced from reading Sky Hawk. One of the year 5 teachers said the children have been going osprey crazy...drawing pictures of ospreys. Y5s had even produced an anthology of poetry about ospreys. Each child had written and illustrated a poem about...'If I were an osprey...'
It was wonderful to see so much enthusiasm for wildlife and conservation. Two children had written and illustrated a comic about ospreys. I laughed out loud at one picture...the word bubble said..."what's for supper tonight?"...answer..."Fish! as usual!" and another of an osprey sunbathing in Africa saying, "Man, it's hot!"

Osprey poetry anthology

Staff and the Sky Hawk display...and me!


Jenny said...

I am in the middle of Sky Hawk. I just thought i'd like to let you know that it is now one of my favourite books now, i just can't stop reading.

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