Write Times 2

The SQA recently published Write Times 2 to celebrate the writing of pupils in National Qualifications.  Leanne Welsh went along to the launch event to represent SATE. 

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Opportunities are often taken to celebrate the success of pupils involved in physical activities such as sporting achievements and practical accomplishments; however there are not always opportunities to celebrate the written accomplishments of young people in Scotland – until now.

Write Times 2 is a collection of fantastic creative writing produced by SQA candidates over the past academic year.  The book includes: fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama. The pupils in this collection of writing have used their talent to share compelling personal experiences, as well as thought-provoking pieces on fairy-tales with a twist.  The work in this collection is inspirational and a free copy will be sent to every school in Scotland!

The SQA Write Times 2 launch was a fantastic night filled with fascinating readings and performances from pupils across Scotland.   We were introduced to the event by John Loughton who is the chief executive officer of leadership training company Dare2Lead and a motivational speaker. John stressed the importance of putting young people’s voice at the heart of what we do as they are, after all, the future. Their views need to be taken into consideration and prioritised as they will be the ones who will inspire positive change for future generations to come.

The Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, followed on from John’s speech and he also emphasised young people’s shrewd awareness of current world affairs. Some of the pupils in this collection have chosen to write about these concerns and the affect they have on them personally. This is one reason why this collection is so inspiring.  The collection clarifies what our young people are capable of. They are often more aware of what is going on than we are because, as we get older, we are often too wrapped up in our own world to see the bigger picture.  The pupils show maturity when dealing with the major issues of today and there is no doubt that this collection reflects the talent and ambition of the young people in Scotland.

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All Illustrations by Adrian B McMurchie

In addition to these fantastic speeches, we were also lucky enough to hear some of the pupils read their work at the launch event. Hannah, from the High School of Dundee, started the readings with her creative story: ‘Gone Mad’.   This piece is a fairy-tale with a twist and tells the story of what really happened after Cinderella met her Fairy Godmother and animal friends. Hannah’s use of language in this piece is superb.  An example of language is shown through her description of a hut as ‘showing the scars and wounds left by the forest and its harsh climate’.  She also adds humour to her story and, again, shows young people’s awareness of the issues around them with the lines: ‘Well ladies.  Never invest all your happiness in happy ever after – develop your own independence’. ‘Gone Mad’ is an enjoyable and, at times, dark piece and I’m sure it will inspire many pupils in Scotland to have the confidence to adapt another fairy-tale or story.

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All Illustrations by Adrian B McMurchie

Another amazing piece of writing came in the form of a poem by Mahee from Kelvinside Academy. Mahee’s poem, titled ‘My Grandfather’, describes his experience of being a first generation Scot and the difficulties that can derive from the confluence of two cultures. One of the many lines that stood out to me was: ‘he holds my soft hands in his calloused paws’. Mahee’s use of language clearly shows the contrast between his roots and the life he lives now. Many pupils have shied away from poetry in the past, however I hope that Mahee’s piece will inspire many to take on the challenge and create their own poems in order to express their own thoughts and ideas.

 

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All Illustrations by Adrian B McMurchie

The final reading of the night came from Michelle, from Eastwood High School, and this was a performance to remember.  Michelle created a non-fiction piece titled: ‘Nyumbani Means Home’. The audience were lucky enough to witness this piece as a theatrical adaption. Tram Direct Theatre supported Michelle, and her co-star Asante, with the performance and it was spectacular.  Michelle took on the role of herself in Scotland, and Asante performed as Michelle from Kenya. In this piece Michelle explores her experience of both Scottish and Kenyan culture and the potential for conflicting feelings to arise. We were treated to Kenyan culture and ceilidh dancing as Michelle tried to decide where she really belonged. However, by the end of the performance, Michelle stressed the importance of being an individual with the powerful line: ‘I’m Michelle Mwende Nyawira Musyoka, daughter of all counties and citizen to none.’  The performance was truly inspirational and Michelle’s piece can be read in the non-fiction section of Write Times 2.

The launch event filled me with ideas to share with my own classes and I’m sure pupils, from across Scotland, will read these pieces and be inspired to create something that is just as powerful and thought-provoking. I was enthused, but not surprised, by the confidence and talent showcased at this event. I’m sure that all the young people in this collection will go on to inspire the next generation of pupils to be ambitious and original.

Al Dapre – a writer’s view of Get Write in! (2017)

 

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A large part of my childhood was spent in children’s homes and foster care. Thinking back, the adults I remember most were the ones who offered me consistency, gentle guidance and a chance to express myself creatively. Self-expression is so important because care institutions – however well-meaning – can at times be soulless rule-driven places. Some days I felt the walls close in so I withdrew into my imagination or took comfort in children’s stories. Books were always a reliable refuge; small doors into big worlds full of comforting themes and nurturing narratives. 

Children, regardless of circumstance, often look for stability. They value love and caring support. I remember being driven in a minibus away from my primary school and watching my pals  with their parents. Holding hands. Happy. Carefree. Parenthood, to me, is a wonderful life-affirming opportunity. A privilege too. I always wanted a family of my own. Becoming a father gave me a real purpose in life. Hopefully, I will inspire my child to find her feet in the world. To then take a big run up – and fly. As high and as far as she wants to go.

GetWriteIn! (2017) had high hopes too. It was an inspirational creative writing competition that sought to inspire looked after or care experienced children to write. It hoped to bring out their creative voice, and get them writing from their imagination or personal experience [on the theme of ‘Random Moments’].

An online post by Raymond Soltysek brought the competition to my attention. As soon as I read about its child-centred intentions I was motivated to write the organisers at CELCIS a note of support. I was delighted that such a valuable initiative was available. I loved writing as a child – still do – and it would have been a dream to enter something specifically tailored for someone like me. 

Before long, the team at CELCIS invited me to attend the Get Write In! Winners’ Event. The stories presented that day were poignant, funny and thought provoking. As I read through an accompanying booklet, I was moved to tears by the power and honesty of each child’s story. These were truly unique voices – freed from labels –  speaking passionately about random moments from their lives and imaginations. I sat alongside my wife and daughter and thought about my journey. My family. A wave of happiness flowed over me. Lucky man.

A short while after the Winners’ Event, I was invited by CELCIS, to run a creative writing session for some of the competition finalists. Supported by NATE & SATE, it was full of upbeat practical activities based on my zany Porridge the Tartan Cat books. The children who took part were quiet at first, but soon began to express themselves creatively. There was a lot of joining in, shouting out, silly wordplay and quirky problem solving. The bright, colourful location in Glasgow’s city centre really added to the upbeat atmosphere. The young writers who took part left with big smiles, happy to be valued for their considerable writing talents.

Looking back, I believe the GetWriteIn! (2017) competition was successful because it bypassed stereotypes, and reached out to a section of society that isn’t often heard. It offered care experienced children an opportunity to say something personal.  I have a deep admiration for every young writer who took part. It takes courage to say something from the heart, in public.

I hope the prize winners will continue to write. Writing for pleasure is an important thing. Writing for other people can be a challenge. And I’m so glad the children were up for it, because what they wrote was inspiring. 

For everyone.

About the ‘Porridge the Tartan Cat’ series:
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In this funny, furry new series for young readers, Porridge PURRfectly CAT-a-logs the family’s hilarious adventures from a cat’s-eye perspective.

With wacky twists, zany wordplay and MOGnificent illustrations in every chapter, readers won’t even want to paws for breath.

Book Summary of my latest book: Porridge the Tartan Cat and the Unfair Funfair

In Unfair Funfair, sneaky Fangfair owner Fangus McFungus turns Roaring Ross into a Scarewolf to help him stink out Tattiebogle town & steal stuff while everyone is asleep. But Porridge has plans to save the day and turn Fangus into a silly Scaredy-Cat! Me-howl!

Reviewers have picked up on the engaging wordplay, positive energy and zany humour (see reviews below). 

AUTHOR & BOOK INFO:

Here are some links to my www.alandapre.com website: bionewsreviewsinterviews). Also my Live Lit profile which sets out my published books, writing background & experience to date.

New SATE seminar with Kenny Pieper

Sate are delighted to announce a SAE seminar with Kenny Pieper on the 28th of September at Larbert High School.

All teachers of Literacy and English, whether working in the primary or secondary sectors, are welcome to this – the latest – of the popular series of SATE Seminars. In this session – “Books – A Passport to Everywhere” – author Kenny Pieper will discuss the importance of books in our lives, how they lift and transform us, and how they may provide the key to improved life chances for all our children. He will also discuss the strategies he has used successfully in his own classroom. There might be speed-dating!

Tickets are free to students, £10 for members of SATE/NATE and £15 for non-SATE/NATE members.

Book here:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sate-seminar-theres-more-to-life-than-booksbut-not-much-more-tickets-42742931258

Buy Kenny’s book here:

https://www.crownhouse.co.uk/publications/reading-for-pleasure

See you there!