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Writers start new literacy scheme in Nottinghamshire
First Story student reading his school's anthology
The writers in residence will help pupils produce their own anthologies

Four successful writers are going back to school in Nottinghamshire as part of a literacy project to inspire pupils.

Each will be a 'writer in residence' at a local secondary school, running weekly creative writing workshops.

Booker nominated Jon McGregor is one of the writers involved in the First Story scheme.

He said: "I hope that by the end of the year my workshop will be considered as cool as being in the school football team. If not cooler."

The writers, who also include award-winning novelist Nicola Monaghan, playwright Kevin Fegan and author Clare Brown, will spend an academic year with the pupils.

Sense of excitement

McGregor, who will be working with Ellis Guilford School in Basford, said the opportunity to work with a group of students over a number of months appealed to him.

Author Jon McGregor
I hope to see the students begin to discover a sense of excitement about the things you can do with words
Author Jon McGregor

"I hope to see the students begin to discover their own creativity and imagination and sense of excitement about the things you can do with words."

In the final term the writers will help pupils produce their own anthology.

"The books produced by First Story groups in London and Oxford have been of a really impressive standard, but I'm sure the students in Nottingham can do better," said the author of If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things.

'No limits'

Nicola Monaghan will be working with pupils from Nottingham University Samworth Academy in Bilborough.

She said: "There couldn't be a better match. The academy is round the corner from where I lived for many years growing up and William Sharp, its predecessor, is where my sister went to school.

The group Nicola is working with will be mixed in terms of their abilities in mainstream subjects and their backgrounds.

"I think it's really important for these students to see that there are no limits to what they can do or achieve."

Like McGregor she is also excited about publishing the students' work in the final term.

"I have high hopes that it will turn out to be an inspiring project for all concerned," she said.

The other school signed up to the project is the Nottingham Academy in Sneinton and Bakersfield.

They will be working with two authors - Clare Brown will write with a group on the sixth form site and Kevin Fegan with GCSE students.

Great writers

The First Story scheme aims to celebrate and foster creativity and literacy in young people.

Nottingham is the third city the charitable organisation has set up in.

ABOUT THE WRITERS
Jon McGregor's first novel, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, won the Betty Trask and Somerset Maugham awards as well as being long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
Kevin Fegan is a poet and playwright and written over 40 plays for the stage, seven plays for BBC Radio 4, a few short films plus a had a spell as a Storyline Writer for Coronation Street
Nicola Monaghan won the Authors' Club First Novel Award for her book The Killing Jar which tells the tale of one of Nottingham's best known estates
Clare Brown is the author of two novels, The Creation Myths and Dream Laboratory

Founder and former head teacher Katie Waldegrave said: "Nottingham seemed ideal both because of its rich literary heritage and the brilliance of the authors currently living and working in the area.

She added: "There are also many schools of the type we want to work with in the East Midlands."

First Story has been specifically set up to work with schools in 'challenging' circumstances.

"'Challenging' refers to schools in which more than 50 per cent of pupils are considered deprived or in which GCSE results fall in the lowest third of the national distribution," she explained.

This year it is hoped that up to 64 students and 10 members of staff will benefit from working with a writer on a weekly basis but First Story said many more will benefit other events in the schools' community.

In 2011 Kate Waldegrave hopes to expand the project further in the East Midlands.




SEE ALSO
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14 Jun 10 |  Arts & Culture


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