Our Poetry Residencies allow us to work in a sustained way with a group of pupils and their teachers, over the course of a half-term or full term. This enables us to invite children to wade deeper into the waters of poetry, giving us time to read poetry, analyse it, write our own and perform.
This longer-term deployment - usually involving weekly sessions - enables us to really practise what we preach, and work alongside teachers to show how the teaching of poetry can not only develop children's abilities as writers; it can provide space for reflection, for the development of self-understanding and for us to work with children and their teachers to look at the relational dynamics at play in our class.
Our first residency has been at Glade Primary School, working with Year 6s across September and October 2020. Glade has a beautiful forest area within the school grounds, which gave us the opportunity to get out into nature each week. Many children had had very limited opportunities to be outdoors during the COVID lockdown, and the headteacher requested this project in order to support the children's social and emotional needs as well as the academic development of their writing.
Our second residency worked with the school's Year 3 pupils, with a focus on nonsense poetry. Sessions began with word games to build vocabulary and to give reluctant speakers the chance to speak up - this has proved helpful for pupils who are hesitant to join in, and those who are new to English. Our poetry focus has been on nonsense, and the children had the chance to get stuck into Lewis Carroll's 'The Jabberwocky', before roaming the forest and getting inspiration for their own nonsense quest poems. See their video below!
This model is one that underpins our Poetry Residencies. The project is explicitly designed to support children's emotional and social learning, alongside the development of an authentic writing community. We will ideally make use of the outdoors, whatever that could look like for a school: a forest, a park, a field or the city itself.
We are committed, at all levels of our work, to the importance of representation. Our sessions invite children to discover and explore poetry and stories from writers around the world. So our nonsense poetry is as much about Sukumar Ray, Daniil Kharms and Anushka Ravishankar as it is about Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll. Alongside Shakespeare sits Rumi.
Our projects are ambitious and challenging, whilst always seeking to be enjoyable - poetry can be pure jollity and it can also be the joy that comes from passing through a period of linguistic struggle.
We strive for both sides, and all that falls in between.
And we are unashamed about this being something that brings laughter and happiness.
School isn't preparation for life... it is life.
As such, we strive to make these residencies something that all children can enjoy.
We can dynamically shift our approach to meet the needs of the pupils we work with.
Poetry is for everyone.
Our residencies help children and their teachers to see this to be a truth, rather than a platitude.
"IT INSPIRED ME SO MUCH AND MADE ME LOVE POETRY AGAIN. IT LET ME FINALLY TAKE A DEEP BREATH, AND BREATHE. IT ALLOWED ME TO LOOK INTO A DEEPER MEANING IN LIFE AND EVERYTHING."
YEAR 6 CHILD GLADE PRIMARY
"I AM ONE WITH NATURE AND NATURE IS ONE WITH ME.
DURING THIS ADVENTUROUS TIME, I FELT ABSTRACT AND I LEARNED SOMETHING WHICH AMAZES ME IN SO MANY WAYS. I WOULD DO ANYTHING TO DO THIS AGAIN."
YEAR 6 CHILD FROM GLADE PRIMARY