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Wriggle Room Writers by Marion Rose

April 26, 2013

The Evening Standard has highlighted London’s literacy problems in schools – sometimes shockingly – with statistics such as ‘one in three children is starting secondary school with a reading age as low as seven’. Its campaign to get children reading has been popular and successful.

So, when an email popped up from an inner London primary school seeking a writer in residence for its Year 3 classes, I was intrigued. The email said they were “looking for creative ways of investing in our children’s education, to inspire and motivate their writing.” Such a fresh, innovative approach should not be ignored I thought, but sadly I did not have the time. Would the school be interested, I asked tentatively, in having more than one writer share the residency?

The school leapt at the idea. And so did five other writers from Islington Writers for Children (the group behind this blog which has met fortnightly for 18 years to support each other’s writing). The fact that we, as published writers, are all totally different in our approach to writing suddenly made sense in terms of what we might offer kids.

Some of us work with a rough plot idea, some start from a character, others are inspired by an image, a name, or a sense of place. As individual writers in school, we would have the freedom to offer alternative ways in to writing, fun ways that might help kids doodle with ideas, and discover the fizz of pleasure there really can be in writing something that satisfies. (Yes really! One of the saddest questions I have ever been asked on a school visit is ‘Do you enjoy writing?’ accompanied by an astonished look.)

And so, the Wriggle Room Writers project has just begun. For six weeks this half term, a different children’s writer will spend half a day with two classes at Burdett Coutts & Townshend CE Primary. We hope it will create a buzz about reading as well as writing, and that it may stimulate interest beyond Y3. We’d like to learn from this project and do more residencies. And most of all – we look forward to featuring some of the children’s Wriggle Room writing on this blog, for everyone to see…

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 27, 2013 9:38 am

    I think this is totally brilliant, Marion. I love the idea of using different approaches to get that buzz about reading and writing. I’m looking forward to hearing more.

  2. Megg Nicol permalink
    April 27, 2013 8:18 pm

    Yes I agree….I can remember the first time my Year 3 teacher, Miss Anderson .. read us an Edward Lear poem and told us it was ok to ‘make things up’ and that stories didn’t need to be true. It felt like she had handed me the key to unlock a secret door that I’ve been walking through it ever since!

  3. Alison Allen-Gray permalink
    April 30, 2013 2:08 pm

    A really interesting post, Marion. I love the whole concept of ‘wriggle room writers’ and I wish it all the best and hope to be involved one day. I also look forward to seeing the children’s writing on our blog.

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