What is the structure of the creative writing classes?
Each block of classes (sometimes 6 classes, sometimes 12, depending on the theme), has a theme. For example, ‘magic’ / ‘the underworld’ / ‘twisted fairy-tales’ etc. Usually, the first couple of sessions of the theme, we will make art within it, to inspire ideas that will go into our stories. We may also create poems / short pieces of writing, around the theme. Most lessons we will also play creative games to warm-up (e.g. for 5-10mins), e.g. story-telling as a group orally / creating connections between words / word associations. When we have generated enough ideas for our stories through the artwork and short pieces of writing, we will start to build characters and plots for our stories. We will story-board ideas (using pictures) / brainstorm orally as a group / write plans for our stories. At this stage, we start to work on introducing interesting literary techniques, some of which we will have already looked at in the creative games (these vary for each age group, but may include, for example, similes / metaphors / personification / sentence structure / show not tell / using the senses etc.). We then start to write the stories in stages, usually with discussion after each stage (we all read our stories out loud and give feedback to each other). Finally, each student will finish writing their story; read it out to the class, and I will take it in to mark and give written feedback on it. Here is an article I’ve written on how I teach creative writing, as published in Families magazine: https://paintwritenow.co.uk/2016/12/04/how-i-teach-creative-writing/
My child is preparing for the 11+: would the creative writing classes suit them?
The classes are not geared towards 11+ but towards increasing enjoyment of writing. We learn gently, as I have found this is most effective, doing art and games alongside the writing. For example, in half of a term we may do 3 x lessons of art (related to characters / places we will write about) and games (aimed at expanding different skills in writing / the imagination), then a week of writing poems; a week of planning our stories; a week of story-writing. We do not go over any 11+ past papers or study reading or comprehension; the class is purely about enjoyment of writing, accessed through art and games.
Do you teach classes in half-terms and holidays?
I teach term-time weekly classes, and courses in the summer holidays. I do not have availability to teach courses in other holidays.
Are there trial classes for new students?
Each term, I designate a couple of classes, usually in the second half of the term, where students can pay £20 as a one-off fee to come to do a trial lesson with one of my regular classes. There are very limited spaces for this. I must be contacted in advance to organise this – please do not turn up on the day and expect to be able to try the class, as it is likely you will not be able to. If a student would like to meet me 1-1 for a session before starting the group classes, I can organise this and would charge £50 for the hour.
Are you a trained primary school teacher?
No, I am not. I have developed my methods and ethos for teaching writing from:
– teaching experience in small groups and 1-1 for the past 10 years
– my degree in literature from Oxford
– my degree in law from the College of Law (which included barrister training for 1 year)
– writing reports for judges in the Court of Appeal for a year
– researching a wide variety of teachers and writers, including, but not limited to: Pie Corbett, Jane Considine, Mary Roche, Steve Bowkett, Michael Rosen, Cressida Cowell and Neil Gaiman
– writing myself
– teacher training days including with The Literacy Shed (upcoming), The English and Media Centre, and others