Aspirations and Achievement

A couple of weeks ago, I received a phone call from a Primary School to ask if I would like to go and speak to the children. As part of their Aspirations and Achievement week, the children had been asked to suggest the kind of people and jobs they would like to know more about. From Infants to Juniors, they wanted to know about being an author or writer. I was thrilled to be asked and last week I gathered my Winnie the Pooh story (visit to watch it), my note books, my poetry and some props and I set off to the school. 

The children were split according to their ages and over the course of the afternoon, I saw them all from Nursery to Year 6. They had clearly enjoyed their week and all the children (including the youngest ones) could tell me what Aspirations and Achievement meant. 

First came the easy bit, reading my Winnie the Pooh story. As it’s set in Liverpool, it was nice to be able to ask the children which landmarks they had recognised. 
Second came the Question and Answer section. Anyone who has ever worked with children will tell you the same: always be prepared for anything. As I looked out over the sea of raised hands I wondered what the questions would bring…

Here is a selection of the questions I was asked and the answers I gave. 

1. What inspired you to be a writer? Books, Books, Books! A love of stories. And the person who encouraged me to publish was Gerard Durcan a Headteacher I worked with in London.

2.  How long does it take to make a book? A long time. You never know how long the writing will actually take. Sometimes the words fall out of your pen onto the page. Sometimes you’ve virtually finished the story and decide you don’t like it anymore and start again. Once the story is written, you have to leave it for a while and then go back to it and re-read it. I always ask other people to read it too. Then, you have to change any of the things you don’t like. Finally, when you are totally happy with it you have to find a publisher! A long time!

3. What was your favourite book when you were little? This is hard as there are so many great books. When I was in the Infants I loved Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll. I also love the Blue Balloon by Mick Inkpen and Ollie the Stomper by Oliviere Dunrae. When I was in the Juniors I loved The Enchanted Wood, Famous Five, The Naughtiest School Girl all by Enid Blyton. 

4. What qualifications do you need to be an author? Creativity, imagination, a love of books, good speaking skills (you have to be able to tell a story before you can write it), reading, writing skills, patience. 

5. What was your favourite subject at school? English especially Reading and Creative Writing and History. 

How many books have you written? Books: I’ve written 3 and had poems published in two others. Stories: I’ve written 10 in this folder, another 10 in this notebook and in my head at least another 10 in there at the moment. I always keep a notebook with me in case an idea pops into my head at any time!

This is just a small sample of the questions I was asked. As you can see they were wide ranging. I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon and speaking to the children helped to remind me why I like to write. Never underestimate how inspiring children can be. 

One of the children asked if I would read some of my poetry at the end so I chose two poems to share and I’ll finish with one of them now.

The Staffroom
A healthy school, the logo says.
We encourage the children to eat their veg.
Lots of salad and fruit to eat.
Sweets are just an occasional treat.

And yet, in the staffroom, a different story.
Chocolates and biscuits in all of their glory.
Hands reach out and mouths are filled.
With cakes and goodies and none get spilled.

The age old message from us to you.
Do as we say and not as we do!

For some reason this went down very well with the staff….

Thanks for reading.

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