Saturday, 24 November 2007


The Head and students, Gateway Academy
Yesterday, I went to Gateway Academy, Tilbury, to meet with the staff behind an invitation to two of us from New Writing South, a playwright (Jo) and a prose writer (moi) to work with groups of Year Nine students after Christmas.

It was a wonderful introduction to a City Academy. As we sat in the reception area, waiting for the Head of Dama, there was a helluva din coming from the assembly hall right nearby... shouts and yells, screams.

"Are they OK?" we wondered, as the screams increased in volume.

"Is there a member of staff in there...?"

Then a policewoman went in. Shoulders set.

"Oh God. There IS something wrong..."

The screams continued.

We looked at each other. Then two boys came out, sauntering away down the corridor. Shaven heads.

"Cor, that was tough, mate."

"Yeah. Not easy..."

And the policewoman came out... grinning.


It was a doughnut eating contest. The doughnuts were too fresh. Apparently, it aint easy eating a doughnut fast when its fresh.



The meeting went really well. Both Jo and I will be working at Gateway next term, for ten two hour sessions.

The group I will have ... fifteen Year 9s. And there's SO much we can do! The Academy has taken a community newsletter under their wing... we can look at journalism, for that. Editing. Advert writing.

We can spend as much time on Creative Writing as we want... look at what they are reading, talk about that, why they like some stuff, why not other stuff. See who's writing anyway quietly without telling anyone.

Talk about writing the stories THEY want to read themselves. Working perhaps to a theme of regeneration. (Tilbury is at the centre of a huge regeneration project, seems to me.)

We can look at stories, flash fiction, all the craft stuff... we can work together as a group, or in pairs, or singly, creating characters, and fun stories, scary stories, wierd stories, stories from real happenings, thought provoking stories, stories about Tilbury's past, Tilbury's future...because these kids are Tilbury's future, aren't they?

I'm thinking about a short story competition, a poetry competition, about working with the great staff we met to use this series of sessions to create a real buzz about writing!

And talking about regeneration... The school is moving next year to a purpose built school nearby. It looks fabulous. Seen from the sky, it is in the shape of a capital 'G'. Extraordinary!!


Shameless said...

Corrr, I was waiting for a story of student mayhem and blood! Sounds like a great experience ... it's often in settings like that that we get real satisfaction in what we do. I think it's to do with sharing and seeing people full of hope, not too conditioned by the world. :-)

Vanessa G said...

Hi Shameless

I think you're right.

Keep the world away from kids, thats what I say!