Warwick Writing Programme in Schools (WWPS) is a year-long course which seeks to offer MA in Writing students the opportunity to run workshops for children and young people in local schools, and schools the chance to work with talented, emerging writers. The course is run by Naomi Alsop, a writer who teaches creative writing and runs writing workshops for children and adults in schools and the community. Now in its third year, the course is designed to support students as they examine their own creativity and practice as writers, and to use the insights they gain as a basis for building their own workshop philosophy and practice supporting others to develop as writers.
Wherever possible, the course will allow students to follow their own interests in running workshops such as, perhaps, working with children with learning difficulties or working with adults. Students will work closely with teachers from local schools in planning and delivering a number of workshops, enabling them to gain an understanding of the classroom environment, the possibilities and constraints of working within schools, and the National Curriculum. A series of guest speakers from within the Warwick Writing Programme (WWP) and the wider writing community will give students a range of perspectives on the different approaches and philosophies of running writing workshops.
The course will also have a strong focus on the practical side of working as a writer in schools, looking at safeguarding, finding work, applying for funding, behaviour management, planning, delivery and evaluation. By the end of the course, students will have a greater understanding of how they work as writers, how to use that knowledge as a basis for running workshops, how they can support others in developing their own writing practice and will have practical experience of running workshops. Students who complete the course to the satisfaction of the course leader and the teachers they work with will be given a testimonial from the school which they can use to promote themselves when looking for work.
As well as the benefits for students in understanding the ways they learn and create, and how they can share that with others, the project aims to achieve strengthened links between the Warwick Writing Programme and local schools, to the benefit of local children, teachers and WWP. This will be a strong legacy of the project.
MA students volunteer to run the workshops in schools. Schools won’t be charged a fee for participation, and students won’t be paid.
There are some areas in which specialist speakers will be necessary, for example in the areas of contracts, finding funding and approaching schools. Collaboration with Writing West Midlands and the National Association of Writers in Education, who are jointly running a half-day course on such issues, would be valuable to students and would help to strengthen links between the university and these outside organisations, another key legacy of the project. The course will be open to writers from across the region, offering WWPS students a good chance to network and exchange ideas, and would be substantially better value than anything comparative we could offer ourselves.
WWPS is aimed primarily at MA in Writing students, but the talks by WWP tutors will be open to all, and advertised within the Department of English and Comparative Literature. Last year, ten MA in Writing students ran workshops in schools, some choosing to run as many as eight.