The group was formed this year at the LATE / NWP / British Library conference in April 2013. It is made up of Primary and Secondary teachers from in and around London. This is the fifth time they have met this year.
They began with a quick writing exercise to orient themselves in the cavernous building - as one wrote previously, as well as being visitors, 'we are all exhibits'. They thought about story and voice and attitude - and they wrote for 5 minutes. Afterwards, borrowing an idea from writer Claire Steele, they 'gifted' each other with word or phrase taken from their own writing. This is a fairly painless way of sharing - protecting those who may be nervous. It not only sends writers back to the text as re-visitors, but also as miners and treasure-hunters - critics, in a way. Words and phrases from other writers can often be a good stimulus for new writing. These 'gifts' were stored in notebooks and the group went off in different directions to search for something to write about for an hour.
When they returned and shared, there were, amongst other things,
- tribal tales from the Ancient British fireside,
- Suffolk landscape conjured from some wooden Anglo-Saxon cups,
- gruesome anecdotes of what the tide washed up on the Irish coast,
- and the beginnings of surreal stories ticking with clocks.
You had to be there.
This is an example of how NWP groups nurture teachers' creativity. Teachers return to their classrooms empowered to inspire pupils as writers - and they are practising what they teach, refreshed by close encounters with the writing process, not merely reliant on schema and tropes, writing frames and decontextualised grammatical constructions.
Simon Wrigley, NWP outreach director