Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature have teamed up with award-winning educator, Kate Clanchy to support pupils’ transition to secondary school. City of Literature has launched a new creative writing programme Young Voices, which aims to make pupils’ transition to secondary school as smooth as possible by helping them discover the joy of creative writing, develop their skills and showcase their talent by publishing their work.

The MyVoice: Young Voices programme is a series of five creative writing workshops for Year Six pupils and teachers and for Youth Justice Service teams. The workshops take place throughout January and February and will be facilitated by a team of six experienced professional writers. Schools around Nottingham and Nottinghamshire are taking part. The programme will develop the confidence and writing skills of students, as well as celebrate their progress by publishing their best work and celebrating their achievements with an event in March 2020.

Director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, Sandeep Mahal has said: “MyVoice has been developed on the belief that creativity is crucial within education and more broadly within society. We know that pupils who engage in creative writing interventions attend school more regularly, achieve at higher levels than expected and are significantly happier. Last year 1 in 3 pupils in England failed to achieve a good grade in English language at GCSE, so it’s really important to maintain pupils’ interest in reading and writing when they reach secondary school. We hope the young participants will be inspired by our writers to develop their own self-belief, confidence and creative spirit. We can’t wait to read their work”

The workshop and training programme aims to combat negative thought patterns and behaviour, fear of change, and low self-esteem; feelings which are at their peak ahead of the transition into high school. Children will spend time reading and discussing poems, stories and songs, giving them a time and place to safely direct their life experiences into a creative output.

The programme also includes training one staff member from each school to become a skilled creative writer, aimed at equipping educators with a range of creative ways to engage and inspire pupils and young people.

Workshops will be facilitated by a number of local celebrated authors and poets: Panya Banjoko, Joshua Judson, Paula Rawsthorne, Tuesday Shannon, Aly Stoneman and Jamie Thrasivoulou. They will be joined by award-winning writer and educator Kate Clanchy who has over 30 years of teaching experience and has recently published the acclaimed ‘Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me’. Praising Clanchy’s incredible work creatively engaging students from disadvantaged and refugee backgrounds, Philip Pullman has described Clanchy as “doing the most important job in Britain, and doing it magnificently”.

The programme has been funded by the Nottingham Violence Reduction Unit(VRU). For this project, Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature has sought to focus on areas with an elevated risk of knife crime and youth violence. Young Voices is supported, managed and administered by Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature as part of their MyVoice project – the city-wide creative writing competition for 10-25 year olds, closing on the 13th of January, as well as creative writing workshops in collaboration with the Nottingham City Hospitals Charity. The MyVoice celebration event takes place on March 20th 2020 and invites participants and winners from all three strands of the project to attend and celebrate their success.