Workshops are tailored to suit schools’ exclusive requirements, with the core foundations of demonstrating and teaching succinct, concise writing remaining solid throughout.
The number of sessions delivered will be at the school’s stipulation and workshops can be adjusted accordingly for varying numbers of children. In all scenarios each child will be guided throughout.
The sessions are primarily aimed at Year 5 / Year 6 as this is an age when children are usually very receptive to expanding their language skills and a little extra help can go a long way. It’s also the most effective time to encourage children to develop and understand the importance of structure and clarity in their writing.
Costing varies according to each school's specific needs. As an example, a primary school recently took five half-day workshops at a total cost of £800. This included all materials.
How will it work?
This usually begins with a short explanation of my role as a journalist, highlighting the importance of strong writing skills. I want to emphasise what good writing can bring - the benefits and the excitement of a career that’s never boring but also how writing is crucial in every life choice they make in life.
We’ll then discuss a potential story as a group. It can be anything from a ‘staged’ incident in school (always causes a stir and the children love it) or a subject the children have perhaps been discussing in school. Once a topic has been decided children are invited to discuss what they will need to construct a good story - will they include short interviews etc?. We will also talk about the importance of a strong, clear introduction.
In journalism, we use the Inverted Pyramid when writing a classic news story, introducing Who, What, Where and When as soon as possible. This is to immediately bring the most important piece of information to the reader’s attention. It also help the writer to form an early structure of the story in their head or ‘jotted’ down on paper.
It would also be beneficial to show pupils examples of appropriate short newspaper stories and how they are written, both regional and national and First News.
I usually begin by demonstrating how to write a strong, concise introduction to their stories. ‘Intros’ for newspaper stories should be, on average, no longer than 26 words - usually less - and this is a supreme way of encouraging the writer to select the most succinct words to express their message clearly. This method of thinking carefully about the words they use will be carried through the whole story writing process.
If short interviews are needed, we can ‘mock’ them up and then include them in the story. Also we will talk about why journalists have to write to a deadline and a word count , accentuating again the importance of clear and fluid writing.
Pupils continue to work on their stories with my supervision at all times. I go through sentences and paragraphs with them and discuss/ask for alternative words that might be used to express more effectively what they want to say.
Sessions 4 and 5
They complete their stories, usually on laptops or computers, comparing them to the original newspaper pieces they saw on day one. Pupils are also asked to think of headlines to accompany their story - again a good way of polishing writing skills, as they must use very few, carefully chosen words for maximum impact.
Stories are printed out at the end of the session and taken away to be set on individual front pages, complete with the school masthead. These will be delivered to the school within five working days.
Will it tick the right boxes?
Writing workshops will support pupil learning in the following ways:
- Literacy: Writing for and with a purpose
- Writing with structure
- Gathering information
- Different types of writing: persuasive, informative, review
- Communication skills: Interviewing
- Confidence in asking questions
- PSHE: Awareness of what is going on around them
- Working together towards the end product