Ian Haigh, Teacher of English, Farlingaye School, Woodbridge
“Following my two experiences with the YWSP workshops [Note: both at National Trust site, Sutton Hoo], I’ve really enjoyed hearing the students’ positive feedback. They like that they were given time and space to ponder and for their writing to develop over the course of the day. Quite a few of the students said that they’d never really had an experience like it and a few of them said that, to get the same feeling again, they were going to make an effort to get themselves out into nature and leave technology alone sometimes… Educationally, it’s good for the students to have time to find their own voices with their writing and, for the people that attended, I’m confident that they feel more confident with their writing…
Several of the students ask me when we can do something similar again and I know that a few of them got a lot out of being sociable with people they wouldn’t normally interact with. Some of them don’t necessarily interact with people at school in such a mature way and I’m keen to do something similar with them on a more regular basis. As a school, we’ve now set up a Creative Writing classroom one lunch-time per week where students can relax, get informal feedback and learn about upcoming competitions (including the YWSP) and this is very much off the back of the workshops with you.”
Dr Jos Smith Academic Director of the British Archive of Contemporary Writing, University of East Anglia
We employed the Young Walter Scott Prize to offer training to a Writer in Residence and eight postgraduate volunteers working on an HLF-funded project here at UEA, ‘Suffragette Stories: Women’s Heritage in Norfolk’.
The challenge of the project was take objects and stories from a suffragette archive out to various schools and libraries across Norfolk and help participants think themselves back into the shoes of the suffragettes. The writer and volunteers found this to be invaluable in preparing them to work with school groups. The methods and techniques they explored were dynamic and engaging (in body and mind) and have helped us to produce workshops that have worked well in a variety of contexts, from small community libraries in low income and marginalised areas to busy city centre colleges.
There is a very strong pedagogical assumption underpinning this approach which seems to communicate to participants that ‘everyone can do this – everyone has something valuable to offer’ and that privileges the creative process itself over the product. This inspires confidence across the board, in the volunteers leading the workshops and in the participants themselves.
Laura Wood. Author of A Sky Painted Gold shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag YA award 2018
I had the enormous privilege of hearing some of the work from students in Cornwall and it was very moving. The writing that was produced was incredibly powerful, often exploring a sense of identity and belonging, inextricably wrapped up in the dramatic landscape and rich history of storytelling specific to Cornwall’s wild and beautiful moors and coastline. Whether it was writing about evacuees or mythical beasts, these young authors brought a thoughtfulness and honesty to their work that inspired me and reminded me of what is best about working on historical fiction – that forging a stronger connection with our past only helps us to better understand our present.
Tan Twan Eng, Author of The Garden of Evening Mists (winner of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2015)
You and your team and everyone involved have my utmost admiration.
Patrick Gale, Author and Artistic Director of the North Cornwall Book Festival
For several years now North Cornwall Book Festival has featured a readings and prizegiving event for the Charles Causley Young People’s Poetry Prize, of which I’m the patron but inevitably, as a prose writer and novelist, I felt something was missing. So it was a delight to be able to showcase the results of the Young Walter Scott Prize workshops alongside the prizewinning poetry this year. It was evident that Steph Haxton’s workshops with the young writers had been hugely worthwhile. The work produced was incredibly varied, energetic and richly imagined and it was lovely to see some evident pride as the writers took to the stage in turn to read their work out to a pretty big audience.
The combination of Cornwall’s remoteness and its pretty desperate poverty mean that its state schools get all too little in the way of either live literature events, field trips or the chance to produce imaginative work outside the confines of the national curriculum. I would dearly love to see more workshops like these rolled out in the county, not least because I think the teachers benefit from them as much as their students.
Lucy Farrant, Director of the Young Norfolk Arts Festival writing in 2017
Young Norfolk Arts’ relationship with the Young Walter Scott Prize is invaluable. Working together we are able to offer over 70 Young People, in this year’s Festival alone, free opportunities to develop their literary talents with workshops delivered by YWSP’s experienced writers and authors.
By taking young people outside of their school environments and giving them free exclusive access to historic locations, such as the Norwich Castle, Holkham Hall and Blicking Hall, has helped to develop each young person’s creative career pathways.
It is important to keep these opportunities free so they are accessible to the widest possible audience. This in mind, we wish to continue working with YWSP to deliver these unique workshops.