Aim: To give students opportunities to improve their writing through activities such as workshops, competitions, visits by writers and links with universities.
Year 1: Questionnaires were conducted by staff and feedback from students recorded. Results at KS3, 4 and 5 were analysed and assessment was measured through progress reviews and trackers.
Year 2: A link with Essex University’s Film, Theatre and Literature department was established. Further feedback was gained from staff and students.
Year 3: The link with Essex University was consolidated and students wrote articles about visits made by professors. More theatre visits were arranged and a film club was established. A Literary Lunch for sixth formers was arranged – students read a particular book and discussed it with the owner of a local bookshop.
An enrichment day for KS4 was held - the author of The Pomegranate Tree came and spoke to students, shared her journalistic experience and raised awareness of the issue of refugees. Students were buzzing after hearing this author. In KS3 Antony Horowitz came and spoke to students about his writing. Students entered the Royal Mail writing competition. At KS3 regular reading competitions and the library sticker chart with prizes stimulated reading.
Evidence: Student feedback, exam results.
Impact: Outcomes for creative writing in coursework and controlled assessments improved: 98% of students achieved a C or above at GCSE in coursework or controlled assessments.
Students said that they enjoyed the writing and they had learnt new skills to improve their writing. They particularly found the university lectures, e.g. the lecture by Professor John Gillis on Antony and Cleopatra and talks on Volpone and Blake’s poetry ‘fun’ and ‘engaging’. Students had incorporated ideas from these lectures into their essays and two students received full marks in their exam scripts. This showed that the students were able to use this information to become more self-reflective in their writing.
One student won the Jack Petchey Award and with the prize money treated her form to a trip to the theatre to see a Shakespeare production.
Exploring connections between film or media and literature has been a useful way of engaging students, as have theatre visits and regular reading competitions at KS3.
Reflections: The challenges were that students had to be motivated to stay in for after-college workshops and to enter writing competitions, but this was achieved. Consistency is a key factor in ensuring that objectives are met, in particular ensuring that the project is extended across all key stages.
Contact: Ruth Burden firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com