I do a lot of work in primary and secondary schools throughout the UK and abroad (including schools in Jakarta, Cairo, Bucharest, Budapest, Johannesburg, Doha, Manila and Lagos). I am unusual in that I write across the age-ranges and on all kinds of subjects from fairies to football, so I can work with children at any stage in their school life, from nursery to GCSE. My sessions are usually a mixture of a talk about reading and writing, readings from my work and question-and answers. I also run writing workshops for children and adults. I have public liability insurance and an up-to-date DBS, and am a member of NAWE (National Association of Writers in Education).
My main focus is on writing from real life experiences and interests – whatever the genre explored – and I believe passionately in the importance of writing as self-expression. In recent years I’ve created rhyming stories with reception children, garden poems with Years 1 and 2, modern fairy-tales with a mixed age group, tales in different genres, and lots more. I have a variety of story prompts, games and stimuli, including my own Jibber Jabber Storyteller writing device, based on the popular “chatterbox” or “fortune teller” origami device, that has a range of applications and has proved very successful. I’m very flexible about the projects I undertake. I’m not a teacher. I try to help and enthuse children in their writing through sharing with them some of the strategies and techniques that I use in my own writing
Over the past few years I have gained a particular reputation, I suppose, as a motivator of reluctant boy readers and writers and I do like working with boys – but my stories have plenty of elements that appeal to girls too and I am equally happy working in a mixed environment. The most important thing, it seems to me, with any writing project is that it should be fun and inspirational for everyone involved.
Starting at 9.30, I am willing to do as many sessions as can be fitted into the day’s timetable. Writing workshops require at least an hour, and, for Year 5 plus, an hour and a half. I am happy to work for a single day or a whole week or over a number of phased visits. Basically, I’m open to any suggestion!