Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Thoughts on GSAL's Speak Up Festival

The Speak Up project at the Grammar School at Leeds has been in development for a while. It is a project Jennifer Webb and I have felt very passionate about as an opportunity to promote writing, reading and speaking in our hometown. Our enthusiasm for the project has not gone unnoticed, and we have had tremendous support from the rest of the school, the writers involved, and those primary schools we have partnered with.

Speak Up is different to the programmes going on elsewhere in the country, because it actively fosters collaboration and skills-sharing between schools. It has been invaluable for teachers, who have expressed their excitement at sharing best practice with other local primaries, and in sharing resources. The Grammar School is privileged to have excellent resources many state schools do not have, and in Speak Up it proves once again that it meets the responsibilities that come with that.

Children from across Leeds get to see how students in other schools work. They get to celebrate their achievments together, with healthy doses of competition, fun and teamwork. Most importantly, they can experience English and creative writing in new ways that make the written and spoken word something exciting. The focus is taken away from dry readings of the canon and towards creating as an individual. It is about empowering the next generation from Leeds to speak up and speak out, and to contribute to the legacy of a city-wide voice that is specifically their own.

Pupils and teachers have enthused about the excellent standard of the writers involved in the programme. This isn't just a one-off 'drop-in' project. The effects should and will be long-lasting. Teachers can take forward new skills and ideas; pupils can gain a real passion for literature as well as seeing, firsthand, local writers who make a living from words. This is about language and literature as vibrant, living media for expression and understanding, sharing and cooperation.

This has been a wonderfully rewarding process for all involved, and I hope that next year I will get the opportunity to work with the Grammar School to expand on our original successes and see how we might make our impact bigger, wider and longer-lasting.

This year we've been lucky enough to work with a very talented pool of writers. They are (in no particular order): Rommi Smith, Seni Seneviratne, Sue Shaw, Simon Murray and Khadijah Ibrahiim. A big thank you has to go to all of them for making this festival such a wonderful project!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the thumbs up Adam. I am really looking forward to working with the schools in my old hometown, Leeds. Most up to date info on me best found at: www.seniseneviratne.com