Gifted and Talented Children from primary schools throughout Balsall Heath have been selected to take part in the ‘Able Writers’ programme. Hosted by Heath Mount Primary School and devised by the school’s Inclusion Manager Angela Mitchell, the programme consists of three one day workshops where the pupils meet guest authors and take part in practical activities devised to challenge their skills and imaginations.
Performance Poet Adisa, the latest author to be brought in under the initiative, provided a range of interactive activities aimed at stimulating the pupils’ imaginations in the run up to creating their own poems. Selected through the ‘Authors Abroad’ organisation which provides specialist authors for workshops and training events, the ‘Able Writers’ programme has proven a huge success with both the pupils and schools involved.
Describing his approach to working in education as ‘Edutainment’ Adisa said of his role as an educationalist “I do these sessions because I like the banter of young people, I like the conversation and there are always good ideas, it’s good for refilling the poetry tank. I like sharing ideas of poetry and showing how powerful poetry can be. It’s changed my life and I believe it can change young people’s lives as well. I’m really passionate about exposing young people to different forms of poetry, particularly before they get to secondary school where sometimes they can switch off from it where they’ve got to study these particular poets and they may not feel a connection with it. But I like saying look there’s always some sort of poetry you’ll like, there’s always a style you’ll like and I like to bring that across in my workshops”.
Funded through the extended schools cluster for Balsall Heath, the programme was described by its creator and co-ordinator Angela Mitchell, Inclusion Manager at Heath Mount School as an attempt to continue the cancelled national gifted and talented scheme but at a local level. The result of the programme is that the pupils from Clifton, Tindal, Heath Mount, Anderton Park and Nelson Mandella Schools have been able to work with their peers and develop their interest in the field further. Angela said of the initiative “We’ve got talented young people in Balsall Heath and these workshops are about finding the writers of the future and helping them to evolve”.
The first ‘Able Writers’ event featured Ian Billings whose career spans twenty years as an educationalist and whose accomplishments include forty plus professional pantomimes, eight children’s books and writing for television shows like ‘ChuckleVision’. Through using interactive drama techniques Ian introduced the children to character sketching and plot structure techniques.
As an on-going feature of the programme the third workshop like the second will be devised and built around the expectations and needs of the young people through a consultation process.