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Tuesday, 28 March, 2000, 09:28 GMT
Poets go into classrooms
teacher reading poetry to class
Poets will work alongside teachers in classrooms
A scheme to try to make poetry more accessible to schoolchildren was launched on Tuesday.

The national programme will involve training a network of about 50 poets to work with teachers in schools, to encourage children to experiment with poetry.

The Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion,was joined by the poet Roger McGough, Brookside creator Phil Redmond, and the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, to launch the Poetryclass project at an east London secondary school.


Andrew Motion
Andrew Motion has said he wants children to learn poems by heart
The Poetry Society is being given an 85,000 government grant to fund the scheme.

Mr Blunkett said: "Poetry has an important part to play in education at all ages. It develops literacy skills, encourages children to explore richness and depth of language, and promotes the development of creative writing skills.

"There is a myth that poetry is just for highbrow intellectuals.

"That's not the case, it's for everyone and a wealth of poetry is accessible to all. Everyone is capable of creative achievements. Creative skills are vital in the knowledge economy of the future."

A second scheme to encourage creative writing is also being launched on Tuesday.

The Write Here, Write Now competition will challenge pupils aged from eight to ten to finish a story, poem, play or TV script penned by a professional writer.

The competition will use works by children's writer Jacqueline Wilson and playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn as well as Roger McGough and Phil Redmond.

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