We work with a team of professional writers from the West Midlands who are experienced at working with children and young people. Here are details of a few of them. If you are interested in your school or college working with one of these writers, please fill in our Spark Writers in Schools Registering Interest form by clicking here.
She has produced several radio plays featured on the BBC Asian Network and was the founding editor of the Network’s British Asian soap, Silver Street, which ran from 2004 to 2010.
Awards include New Writing Initiative by Tamasha Theatre and Birmingham Rep Writer’s Attachment (both 2001). Publications include Aqua Blue (short story, Her Majesty,Tindal Street Press, 2002) which was used as part of the curriculum for a European course in Modern English Literature and A Solitary Dance (short story, Whispers in the Walls, Tindal Street Press, 2001). Naylah was the lead writer for the Birmingham Young Writers group, working with young writers aged 12 – 16 in 2014/15.
Deborah is a poet, workshop leader and qualified HLTA. She has been published several times in Ink, Sweat & Tears, her poems have also featured in Artemis, Under the Radar, Flarestack Poets’ Obsessed With Pipework, Worcester Literary Festival’s magazine – Be:Mag and the Wenlock Poetry Festival’s 2012 anthology. She has been three times shortlisted for the Roy Fisher Poetry Pamphlet prize (2010, 2011 and 2013) and was highly commended at the Ledbury Poetry Festival competition 2011, amongst other things.
Since April 2012 she has run a project called ‘Emergency Poet’ in her 1950s ambulance at poetry and literary festivals and in schools including Poetry Parnassus at London’s South Bank centre, Birmingham Literature Festival, Wenlock Poetry Festival, Poetry On Loan, Solihull and Coventry libraries, and Shropshire County Council amongst others. Deborah is also Writer in Residence for Arvon The Hurst Spring 2013.
She has worked as a lead writer for our Hereford, Shrewsbury and Ludlow Spark Young Writers groups. In addition to this Deborah has worked as HLTA in primary schools since 2009, with particular expertise in literacy, since 2011 she has worked as part of a residency for the Courtyard Theatre Hereford, working with poetry and people with dementia. This project has seen the publication of two books In the Pink and Singing Under Our Breaths.
Her work is suitable for any age and in addition to her normal workshop exercises, she can work in schools in the persona of Emergency Poet, dressed up as Poetry Doctor complete with 1960s ambulance and attached awning space to run workshops in the school playground or within the school.
Jean Atkin is an award-winning poet and experienced educator, based in Shropshire. Her collection Not Lost Since Last Time is published by Oversteps Books, and she has five poetry pamphlets with various other presses. She has also published The Crow House, a children’s novel for 9-12s, and runs a rather spooky workshop with a taxidermied crow. She‘s worked in both England and Scotland and been a poet in residence in schools, libraries, gardens, museums, festivals, farms – even on a beach.
She is a past winner of the Torbay Poetry Prize, Fire River Poets Prize, Ravenglass Poetry Prize, Dartington Hall Ways With Words Poetry Prize – and runner up in many others. In 2014 her poem ‘What’s Human’ was chosen for Scottish Poetry Library’s annual anthology 20 Best Scottish Poems, and in 2015 she was commissioned to write and perform a poem for Radio 4. She’s performed and run workshops for many poetry and literary festivals all over the country.
Jean is also one half of The Wordshoppers, with Liz Hyder. The Wordshoppers provides active, fun and fast-paced workshops to schools and other organisations. More at www.wordshoppers.co.uk.
Jean leads a regular young people’s creative writing workshop for Writing West Midlands, and has worked for several years with elderly people in healthcare settings. She is also a tutor and guest reader for Arvon. Her workshops are noted for their warmth, energy and invention.
“Jean’s workshops were so well-constructed and delivered that every student was able to produce an authentic, personal and high quality poem whilst also having a lot of fun. She combined just the right amount of rigour, humour and energy to enable students to turn their initial ideas into something more crafted and considered; we were delighted with what they produced. More importantly, the students definitely got a buzz from creating their own little bit of poetry magic.” – Ms Rawles, Literacy Coordinator, Shaftesbury School
“I thought you would like to know that our Deputy Head asked her year 7 group on Monday what hints they had learned from you. They immediately came up with 10 different hints and that was 4 days after the event – brilliant! Thank you again!” – Frances King, School Librarian, Sibford School
Lindsey is a writer, teacher and workshop leader. She writes poetry and short stories and is Lead Writer at our Burton Spark Young Writers’ Group, having previously worked as an Assistant Writer at our Polesworth group.
Lindsey is a UK qualified primary teacher with 6 years of classroom experience in settings including London and Dubai. She has a BA Honours degree in Creative Writing which she says was worth every penny even though “[It] taught me more about life than it did about writing.” In 2009 she graduated from London South Bank University with a PCGE. Teaching young people she says “reignited a flame for my love of literature.”
Her work is suitable for all ages.
Matt lives in Leamington Spa, and writes in a shed, under the overhanging branches of an apple-tree. His collections for children are Goblin In The Fridge (Poetry Book Society Children’s Bookshelf Summer Choice) and The Owl and the Pussycat and the Turtles of Fun (Two Rivers Press, 2014).
Matt has worked in schools for 20 years, with visits lasting anything between 15 minutes to 2 or 3 years. Ranging from serious and educational to crazy and sublime, he specializes in tailor-made visits or projects to suit the school. Outcomes are anything from great pleasure, new skills and satisfaction, to daft prizes, to published books, and recent books from school projects have been – Where In The World (Reception, Years 1 and 2), The Wy Factor (primary school inc. staff and local community), Working Heroes (Year 5 boys), King Cabbage (environmental project), Post Stress Cake Disorder (secondary school, with First Story).
Matt has also worked in schools in Germany, U.S.A., Ireland and in further education colleges and universities. He was Derbyshire Poet Laureate 2011-2013, and invented the world’s first Poetry Jukebox. He loves to work with other artists and musicians.
‘The impact on the school has been enormous. All the children want to write now, it’s amazing.’ – Kate Nash, Headteacher, Roughwood School
‘Matt’s workshop was brilliant. He genuinely engaged and inspired the children, who loved every second’ – David Jenkins, Onchan School, Isle of Man
Brenda is a poet, playwright and workshop leader. She has performed her own poetry at several literature and poetry festivals including Swindon, Cheltenham, Ledbury, Brighton, Glastonbury, Worcester, Birmingham and Exeter. She also performed in the semi-final of BBC Radio 4’s national poetry slams. Her poems have been published in several journals and anthologies, she has three collections of poetry Where edges meet, Tightrope and Edgeways she also has two one-act plays published, one of which, Cuffed, was awarded the Geoffrey Whitworth trophy for best original play in the 2010 All UK Theatre Festival. A self-published collection of poetry, Arbitrary edges, was released in 2013.
She has been running creative writing workshops since 2001 including 10 residencies with Writing West Midlands’ Spark Writers in Schools programme, mostly Key Stage 2 and she also leads the Pershore Spark Young Writers group for those aged 8 – 11. She has also completed a residency at a nursery school in Bristol, worked with under-achieving boys and Gifted and Talented groups worked on cross art form projects and the Shake the Dust poetry slam project with teenagers. In addition to this, Brenda has also been Writer in Residence in a prison, worked with older people in GP surgeries and in the Oncology Unit of Cheltenham Hospital.
“To work with Brenda is fantastic as she gives us great things to work with and brilliant ideas. She encourages us to be as creative as we want and I enjoy that.” – Writing Squad participant, KS2
“My writing itself has dramatically improved since beginning to take Brenda’s advice on board, particularly my writing of dialogue or description-heavy scenes, and through the process I’ve also created a couple of great characters I can see myself developing further in future projects.”– Writing Squad participant, aged 17.
She has developed a toolkit of writing exercises and games to help young people and adults overcome inhibitions about writing, and to encourage each participant to find the joy in expressing their own ideas in their own way.
Her work is suitable for all ages especially those working at Key Stage 2 and above.
Helen is a poet and arts critic. Her first collection of poetry Dance of the Swallows will be published by Perdika Press (London) in 2013. Notable journal publication can be found in The London Magazine, The Lampeter Review, Helen Ivory’s Ink Sweat and Tears, the anthology Bugged and the official Hansard for UK parliament, among others. She also writes critically for the Wales Arts Review, the Birmingham Mail, and The Birmingham Press and is Writer in Residence of the Clent Hills, in association with The National Trust.
“A distinctive at best, and in the best sense, uncompromising voice” – Mario Petrucci, Perdika Press
“Beautiful, challenging, angular, fluid; her poems weave an unusual, almost alchemical, spell” – Greta Stoddart
A qualified practitioner of arts, graduating from the Black Swans Partnership Training Programme in 2011, Helen has extensive experience working in education, in areas of creative writing, and critical writing. She runs regular creative writing projects in both primary and secondary schools, specialising in outdoor workshops, utilising areas of urban and/or natural beauty to inspire the work.
She writes distinctive, experimental poetry on a variety of themes, though with a particular interest in the vitality of the natural world. The musical and lyrical nature of this kind of writing encourages a similar freeness of mind (and hand) with young adults, and most workshops focus on gathering raw material, and the process of shaping this into a poem, a monologue, or a story. Helen encourages free experimentation with language – playing with words and ideas first, before editing and crafting.
Helen was the lead writer of the Birmingham Spark Young Writers group, which she worked on from 2010 till 2015.
Her work is suitable for children aged 11 – 16, 16 – 19 and up, and can be altered to suit children in both mainstream and special education.
Elisabeth Charis, a Room 204 writer for Writing West Midlands, is a thinker, writer, teacher, facilitator and permaculturalist currently living on her boat in England. She mostly writes and reviews poetry though is also working on a novel. Her short story, So Far from Home, published by Nine Arches Press, 2014 was part of a project Elisabeth coordinated, for Owl Productions, commissioning retellings of stories from Homer’s Odyssey for the anthology, A Midlands Odyssey. In 2013 she was shortlisted to be Birmingham Poet Laureate.
Elisabeth is interested in the transformative possibilities of creative writing and has recently undergone training to work with mental health service users and completed a level 3 qualification with The Orchard Foundation in Writing for Well Being. She often works with marginalised or vulnerable young people and adults. She has a diploma in Neurolinguistic Programming.
Elisabeth has a first class honours degree in English Language and Literature and is a qualified teacher (QTS and TESOL) with many years of experience teaching young people and adults and facilitating workshops in and out of a variety of educational contexts. She has lived in China, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and, most recently, Syria where political unrest forced her to return to the UK. Her travelling, her current itinerant lifestyle and her love of the natural world feed into her exploration of our relationship with time, place and language.
‘My writing also explores freedom and responsibility; ‘love’; the journey we are all on within ourselves and what it means to be a woman, in our world, now. This last is also called feminism but, like the other themes, it is really just a questioning of the world from the only perspective I know. Most importantly, I try to be honest, though that can be the hardest thing.’
Elisabeth is a member of WRB and Tindal Street Fiction Group.
Maeve is a novelist, short story writer and creative writing tutor who also writes for stage and radio. Publications include, The Real Deal (Franklin Watts, 2009), Passport to Freedom (Drum Magazine, 2004), What Goes Round (Tindal Street Press, 2003), Give us the Money (Oxford University Press, 2001) and Letters A Yard – Whispers in the Walls: An Anthology of New Writing (Tindal Street Press, 2001).
“The workshops where fantastic and the general consensus is staff and students really enjoyed them especially when they had to guess what was in the bag, also ‘ Ringa ding ding check mi bling and ting’ as quoted by the students they loved that part, so thanks once again for such a good workshop.” – Roger Morris, Washwood Heath Technology College, 2010
She has previously been the leader of Writing West Midlands’ Walsall Young Writers group and has run creative writing workshops in schools and libraries through the region. She has recently led creative writing workshops with refugees and asylum seekers in collaboration with English PEN. Maeve was Writer in Residence with English Pen in 2012, a book of work produced Big Writing for a small World (in collaboration other English PEN Writers in Residence) was published in 2012.
She likes exploring different styles of writing and enjoys working with children and young people from different backgrounds and cultures. Her work is suitable for primary school children between the ages of 7 – 13, but can also work with all ages.
Current commissions include: Dealing with Dreams; (Birmingham REP, 2014) Alice in Wonderland; (Theatre in the Quarter,2014) Passion, a play about the First World War and the exit from Afghanistan, (AsOne Theatre, 2014) and A World Beyond Man; (co-pro Arena Theatre and tour, 2014).
Recent work includes Chester Mystery Plays; (Chester Cathedral, 2013) and an adaptation of Moonfleet; which will tour the South West (Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, May – June 2013). Believe Me (nominated for the Tinniswood Award 2011, BBC Radio Four, 2011) and The Witches’ Promise (Birmingham REP @ Weoley Castle Ruins, July 2012).
Stephanie teaches Applied Drama at Loughborough University, Writing and Devising at Birmingham School of Acting and is a visiting tutor on the Mphil in Playwriting at the University of Birmingham.
Stephanie has facilitated playwriting workshops in over 500 schools, colleges and universities and has facilitated over 50 pieces of community based theatre projects. She has also written four large- scale plays for schools.
Garrie is a writer, poet, workshop leader and teacher. He writes edgy adult fiction and poetry about the dark knuckles of the earth, the pauses between stations and the hiss of the city. He has performed his writing at various events including Naked Lungs, the Writing West Midlands Short Fiction Celebratory Reception in April 2013, City Voices Wolverhampton, Poetry Bites (Birmingham), Polesworth Arts Festival, Kings Heath Floral Trail and Offa’s Press’ anthology launch. His work has been published in Naked Lungs’ magazine, Earth Love anthology in January 2013, Offa’s Press’ anthology 2012, the Birmingham Post, The Cannon’s Mouth, 3:AM magazine, and he has a collection of poetry and prose called Notown, which was published in 2007 by Blackheath Books.
“I thought it was interesting about how you can make a poem or short story with two words.” – Bartley Green Young Writers’ group member, 2013.
“I think today went brilliant and we used our imagination a lot and it was very fun.” – Bartley Green Young Writers’ group member, 2013.
He is the lead writer of our Birmingham Young Writers’ group and previously worked as the assistant writer at the Bartley Green group.
Whilst not all of his work is suitable for children the principles of good writing are universal and he strives to make his workshops fun and engaging. He encourages children to have fun writing but to also be critical of what they write.
Lorna is an emerging playwright who began writing professionally in 2007. She co-authored the play, These Four Streets, with five female playwrights for Birmingham Rep Theatre. Rehearsed readings of her work have been presented at Birmingham Rep, Young Vic, Soho Theatre, Oval House and New Wolsey Theatre. In 2008-9 she was Pearson Writer in Residence at New Wolsey Theatre and she has also undertaken attachments to the Royal Court Theatre and Birmingham Rep. Lorna has written for the BBC Asian Network’s radio soap, Silverstreet, and she has won the Alfred Fagon Award for playwriting.
She was the leader of our Spark Young Writers’ group in Birmingham (12 – 16 group) from 2014 – 2016 and has also worked with the group helping to edit their anthology which was published in April 2013. She has mentored two aspiring playwrights to help them develop their skills, volunteers as a drama workshop assistant for Peckham Shed and also co-delivered drama workshops in a London high school as part of Almeida Theatre’s Trainee Workshop Leader Course from 2010 – 2011.
Her work is suitable for those aged 11 – 18.
Julie Fulton is the author of three picture books: Mrs MacCready Was Ever So Greedy, Tabitha Posy Was Ever So Nosy & Miss Dorothy-Jane Was Ever So Vain. The fourth in the series – Daniel O’Dowd Was Ever So Loud – is due for publication in January 2015. She is also a poet and an editor.
“Authors in Residence has been our door sign for the past few weeks so we were thrilled when Julie visited our school to share her love for writing with the pupils. They were excited to discover that some of their favourite books were hers as well and after the visit one of the main Writer’s Tips that stuck with them was ‘Read, Read, Read!’ The ‘Writer’s Tips’ that Julie shared with the pupils were so relevant to what they have been learning and the visit has really inspired and motivated them….” – Seana McLaughlin, Grove Primary, Malvern
“We were very lucky to have Julie come and open our library…..she also went round all the classes to speak to the children…..the fact that she used to teach meant she was able to talk to them at their level and engage them in what she was saying. We hope to be seeing her again sometime….” – Head teacher Sue Warmington, Flyford Flavell First School
She has taken part in the Stratford Literary Festival, working with junior age pupils on the craft of writing, and was a part of their ‘Different Worlds’ workshops & performance in 2013. She hopes to inspire a love of reading and writing in children of all ages.
William is a tutor, scriptwriter, performer, journalist and book author. He writes Doctor Who radio drama for BBC/Big Finish and his books include the definitive reference works to Blake’s 7 and The Beiderbecke Affair as well as The Blank Screen, a guide to productivity for creative writers. He’s a performer on the spoken word cabaret circuit in the West Midlands and teaches writing and communication to all ages and backgrounds: he’s previously worked in prisons and presented at events including the Birmingham Literature Festival.
William’s writing has appeared extensively in Radio Times and BBC News Online plus, the Independent, the Los Angeles Times and on BBC television plus national and local radio.
“Offbeat characterisation and world-building – creative and atmospheric Doctor Who storytelling at its best” – SFX Magazine
“William neatly tipped [our] idea on its head by incorporating us. The situation created by William the playwright became one of mutual inter-dependence and trust in dramatic expression. Masterful! It was a very powerful and exhilarating experience.” – Carol Aubrey, Birmingham City University.
He is the lead writer of the Spark Young Writers’ group in Rugby and has previously worked with our Burton and Walsall groups, he also edits Write On! Magazine for school-age children. He has led various workshops for adults, children and young people including at South and City College, Birmingham, Pow-Wow LitFest, Birmingham Literature Festival (2013) and he assisted at a Doctor Who writing class for children and young people.
His work is suitable for all age groups.
Jenny is a Worcestershire-based writer, poet and editor. Her poems have been published in many journals including The Rialto. Her debut poetry collection, Petrolhead, was published in January 2010 by Oversteps Books.
“The students were totally engaged with the subject matter and it enabled them to really think about their life experiences and what and who is important to them” – J. Preece, Woodfield Middle School.
“It made me realise what is important to me” – Josh year 7, Woodfield Middle School.
She delivers creative writing and poetry workshops to both adults and young writers. Many workshops have been within festivals or community settings. She was the leader of our Spark Young Writers’ group in Worcester from 2013 – 2016 and she also works in the University of Worcester’s Disability & Dyslexia Service. She has read her work at many events and festivals and her work has been broadcast regularly on Radio Wildfire.
Jenny also co-runs the Word and Sound which is an ad-hoc spoken word and acoustic music open mic event in Worcester. She can work with all age groups.
Liz is an experienced workshop leader and writer. She trained with Spread the Word in London to run creative writing workshops and is currently Assistant Writer with Writing West Midlands’ young writers group in Hereford. She’s run workshops everywhere from schools to mosques and libraries. She’s script read for Film Four and script edited for BBC Light Entertainment, is currently developing several theatre projects in the West Midlands and is writing her first YA novel. She’s also an experienced copywriter and features writer and has won awards for her short films. As a freelance multi award-winning PR Consultant, she’s worked with big name authors, broadcasters and presenters on everything from the CILIP Carnegie Medal to the BBC.
Nina Lewis is a poet, teacher and workshop leader. Her poetry has been published in many anthologies, the most recent by Paragram and Paper Swans Press. She has had poetry published in magazines including Under the Radar and Abridged and Fairacre Press have included her poems in e-books for the Maligned Species series.
Nina’s poetry has also appeared on the Wenlock Poetry Trail and in an Art Installation. She has performed at Poetry Festivals across the UK and in 2014 was commissioned to write and perform a piece about the city at Birmingham Literature Festival.
She is the Lead Writer at our Worcester Young Writers’ group for those aged 12 – 16, having previously worked as a Mentor and Assistant Writer for Writing West Midlands.
Her work is suitable for any age group.
Roy was born in Birmingham and has held the role of Birmingham’s Poet Laureate and Starbucks’ Poet in Residence. A regular on the stage he has performed in festivals and theatres, from the Tate Gallery to Amsterdam, from the Birmingham Town Hall to a market setting in Shrewsbury, from a tent at a Jazz festival to the home of Shakespeare in Stratford upon Avon.
Roy’s writing has appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe 2012) and Celebrate Wha? (Smokestack 2011).
Roy’s an experienced workshop leader who loves to inspire individuals to write and share words.
Ian is a writer of science-fiction and fantastic fiction. His most recent novel, Wake Up and Dream, won the Sidewise Award for Best Alternate History, whilst his previous works have won the Arthur C Clarke, John W Campbell and World Fantasy Awards, and been translated into many languages.
“And an extremely big thank you to you…you were great! The workshop went incredibly well, Meadow Arts are really pleased and we are delighted that the school wants to pursue their links with the Museum.” – Annie Millen, Creative Learning Office for Herefordshire County Council.
Ian has taught and lectured on writing for many years, working with a wide variety of groups including professional, graduate, junior, secondary, adult and special needs, both in the UK and abroad, and have worked in dozens of schools across the Midlands. He has worked as lead writer of our Spark Young Writers’ group in Worcester and has led several sessions for year 5 & 6 children in a Hereford museum.
He is a specialist in narrative, which is both one of the most appealing and demanding of the creative skills to grasp, and in which many children strive and aspire to express themselves. The steps of controlled play, investigation, creativity and increased confidence involved in taking an idea from inception to a story that works on the page are readily transferable to other areas as both academic and non-academic skills.
His work is suitable for any age group.
Kurly began writing lyrics whilst looking to make his name on the music scene but was later inspired by a live poetry event that tempted him into the world of spoken word poetry. Since then Kurly has been shortlisted for Birmingham Poet Laureate twice, in 2010 and again in 2012. He was a collaborative writer for the ‘Torch Song’ which premiered at the Adrian Boult Hall and welcomed the Olympic Torch to Birmingham. He is a regular participant in poetry slams and delivers workshops across the region. Kurly is also a trained Arts Award advisor offering nationally recognised qualifications for 7 – 25 year olds and a lot of his work fuses poetry and music as a means of intervention for at risk groups of young people.
Mez Packer was a Broadcast Journalist with the BBC before becoming a Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication and visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing at Coventry University. Mez has various creative writing interests from developing character scripts for mobile phone apps to writing poetry and short stories. Her first novel, Among Thieves, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, 2010. Her second novel, The Game is Altered, was published in February 2012.
Emma is a writer, performance poet and workshop leader. She writes for children and adults and has led workshops with all age groups in a variety of locations including schools, libraries, canal festivals, writers groups and art groups.
“Emma’s workshop was great. .thought-provoking and focused and inspired me to do some writing which I feel compelled to work on the next day. She had a real way of working with the group but also attending to us as individuals. She paid attention to our work and picked out positive, encouraging things for everyone. I would definitely do another one with her.” – Poetry workshop participant, Lichfield 2012.
“Thanks again for a great workshop – you were so natural and easy with the group and made it really accessible for everyone.” – Amelia Burr, Sound It Out Community Music.
She regularly performs at poetry and spoken word nights and at literature festivals as a solo perfomer and also as part of a trio called Funny Women for Offa’s Press. In 2011, she won the Wenlock Poetry Festival Slam, she has also lectured on reading and writing poetry at the University of Wolverhampton. Her work is published in a variety of anthologies and small press magazines, her poetry plays and community plays have been performed at various venues across the West Midlands and her first novel Scratters, was shortlisted for the Mslexia Unpublished Novel Prize 2012. She has also worked with well-known photographers including Martin Parr and David Goldblatt on text to accompany exhibitions and photography shoots.
She has worked on Write On! for several years as a writer in schools and she has led the Stoke-on-Trent Young Writers’ group since 2013. She previously led the Stafford Young Writers’ group. Her work is suitable for any age group and for children with special educational needs. She has experience of working with dyslexic adults.
Rochi is a writer specialising in drama and scriptwriting. Her work has been featured at the Birmingham Literature Festival (Reliable Witness – an interactive storytelling installation project, October 2012), she has also worked on a play for 11 – 13 year olds called The Warrior Goddess, Eat! – site specific theatre production, a Script-in-hand performance for TypTap Young People’s Theatre Festival, mac; The Corner Shop – site specific theatre production and has worked with Black Country Touring, Birmingham Rep and Foursight Theatre.
She is keen for the scriptwriting process to enable us to think beyond the scripted page, and to work with other writing disciplines that can be used as narrative tools, or tools that help develop writing. She has led creative writing projects with pupils in Birmingham primary school and delivered writing sessions for young people outside of educational settings.
“They did lots of writing…good quality…we ditched the plans for the afternoon. They were so inspired, had so many ideas.” – Class Teacher, Clifton Primary
“[We] will definitely use the story boxes again. And it’s knowing we can use them for anything. It doesn’t have to be stories. It could be poems, reports, anything.” – Teacher, Clifton Primary
Workshops might include visualisation activities, role play, examining mysterious props and objects, moving to different locations to write, or starting with well-known stories and storybooks as stimuli which can be brought to life and extended through creative writing work. Projects may explore different elements of the creation of scripts and plays or might act as a series of self-contained workshops which explore a range of writing exercises – but with drama at the heart which will always play part of the writing journey.
Her work is suitable for both primary and secondary school children of all ages and levels.
Mandy has written over 60 children’s books, including Children’s History of Birmingham. Her latest picture book, Dominic Grows Sweetcorn (Frances Lincoln) is based on her neighbour’s story of growing up in Jamaica and coming to Birmingham in the 1950s. Twice shortlisted for Birmingham Poet Laureate, Mandy also writes poetry and plays for grown up audiences.
Mandy has had wide experience of creative writing teaching with children and adults in lots of different settings. She uses a variety of innovative approaches including getting writing off the page, writing outdoors, ribbon writing, and poetry maps – great for reluctant or under-confident writers. Lately Mandy has been supporting children’s speaking and listening through puppet-making story workshops.
Mandy is artistic co-director of Secret City Arts www.secretcityarts.com and enjoys cross-fertilising writing with music, drama and other art forms. She has worked with Mac, CBSO, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham Libraries, Ledbury and Much Wenlock Poetry Festivals, Birmingham Museums Trust and she has taught at Birmingham University and BCU.
“I’ve noticed a great difference in the way children will just have a go at writing particularly some of the children who perceived themselves as non-writers before the project began’”- Y2 teacher about Write On project at Chivenor Primary School
“I thoroughly enjoyed the creativity in tutoring that Mandy brought to each class. Our writing styles were challenged and extended, and I enjoyed the gradual development of trust in the group” – participant in Mac creative writing course
Emma is a scriptwriter, teacher, multi-linguist, translator and author. She has over fifteen years experience teaching students from pre-school age to eighteen and she also specialises in modern languages.
Emma is passionate about writing high quality content for children and has written over a hundred scripts for children’s television. She began her career with Ragdoll Ltd in Stratford-upon-Avon and has since written for both TV and Film with actors such as Rik Myall, John Nettle, Rolf Harris and Tim Healy taking lead roles.
She is part of the team of writers behind Alphablocks and Abadas currently airing on Cbeebies. Being a teacher herself she also writes educational shows for BBC Learning and Channel 4 including Magic Grandad, Blue Dragon, Kiplin’s Tales and Tales Around the World to mention a few. Emma is currently working on a couple of new animation series and a multi-platform series for teens.
Ruth Stacey is an experienced workshop leader, English tutor and published writer. Her background includes many years working as a copywriter and she currently works as a Librarian at King Charles I School, Kidderminster. She tutors a variety of ages and is the lead writer at our Wolverhampton Young Writers’ Group. Previously she worked with the Worcester Young Writers’ Group.
“I have engaged Ruth to work on a number of different projects within the Gallery setting. On each occasion, Ruth has been a pleasure, and inspiration to work with. She is a professional facilitator – calm, collected and informative. But more than that, Ruth has the enviable ability to take her audience to another place, another world, another language. You are totally drawn in by her words and poetry.” – Kate Phillipson Access and Learning Officer, Museums Worcestershire
Ruth studied English & Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and has a master’s degree in Literature: Politics and Identity. She has been widely published in print and online, including Under the Radar, Brittle Star, Ink, Sweat & Tears and Envoi. Her pamphlet about mixed-ethnicity, Fox-Boy, was published by dancing Girl Press. Ruth’s first full length poetry collection was published July 2015 by Eyewear Publishing. Titled Queen, Jewel, Mistress it is a history of Queens of England and Great Britain in verse.
In a workshop setting Ruth works on building confidence and enthusiasm and focuses on all aspects of writing; to include performance skills and the habit of submitting work to competitions and journals. Ruth was trained by voice coach Kirstin Linklater as part of a course organised by Ledbury Poetry Festival. An artist as well as a writer, Ruth will often include visual and creative elements to writing sessions.
Naomi de la Tour
Naomi de la Tour lives and writes in the green gap between Coventry and Birmingham, and the landscape and its relationship with those who live in it, often finds its way into her stories. She enjoys experimenting with forms and taking creative risks and encouraging others to know the rewards that can stem from them.
“For someone like me, with fifteen years’ teaching experience in secondary schools, Naomi’s training was a fantastic opportunity to refresh my professional skills and to stand back and reflect critically upon the processes and practices which make up my day-to-day work.” – Mr J. Geldard. The Manchester Grammar School.
“I’d never met a writer in my life and I felt nervous and excited. [Naomi is] brilliant and inspiring. Probably one of a kind. It’s lovely to work with [Naomi] as she is so kind and helpful.” – Ellie, Coventry Young Writers’ group member.
She seeks to engage and inspire children and young people with an enthusiasm for reading and writing, while demonstrating the practice, hard work and resilience it takes to earn your living from words. She works with writers of all ages to help them see the possibilities of the written word and to develop skills that they can use to write for fun and which will also be useful to them across the curriculum. As well as working in school and community settings, Naomi teaches creative writing at the University of Warwick, where she trains writers to work in schools. Naomi can work with writers of all ages, and can deliver CPD for teachers and other members of staff. In 2012 she was nominated for a WATEPGR award for Teaching Excellence. Naomi has worked as part of the Write On! programme working in schools and she was the lead writer of the Write On! Young Writers’ groups in both Polesworth and Coventry 2012-14.
Best-selling author Cat specialises in creativity and inspiration workshops. She is an energetic and inspirational workshop leader who likes to create a supportive environment where young people can laugh and learn together. Cat is also one of Europe’s leading performance storytellers and has captivated audiences across Europe, into India and Africa and the Far East. She studied drama at university and her approach to all forms of work is bold and theatrical. She has worked on Write On! for several years and has worked with thousands of children in hundreds of schools as well as enjoyed residencies as both a storyteller and a visual artist.
‘Cat is one of our great storytellers, vivacious and inventive’ – Michael Morpurgo
Maria is a storyteller who believes that oral storytelling presents an immediate map for the riches of enquiry for children. Universal questions and truths are embedded in the stories and children can connect with them through characters, plot and landscape. By listening and watching an oral telling and then retelling that story children can build up resources of language and narrative patterning. They naturally begin to acquire confidence as tellers and writers. Before she became a full time Storyteller and Writer Maria was a Secondary School teacher of English and Drama. She was a Head of Department in a large Comprehensive School in Bradford. From there she became the Deputy Head of an Arts Centre (Ingestre Hall, Stafford ).
As well as performing stories in theatres, festivals, libraries and village halls she also runs creative writing workshops in educational and community settings giving performances, running workshops and INSET training courses for staff. Inviting a child’s natural curiosity through riddle and story can be a catalyst for purposeful motivation to speak and write.
Getting started as a writer in education
If you are a writer interested in working in education, see the information page provided by NAWE (National Association of Writers in Education), written by Roz Goddard, Getting started as a writer in education.