Literacy project returns to Shropshire’s rural schools

A project aimed at enhancing literacy skills and creativity among pupils in some of Shropshire’s smallest and most rural schools is set to return this year.

Pupils at St Lawrence CE Primary School who took part in last year’s Rural Schools Write Read Inspire Project
Pupils at St Lawrence CE Primary School who took part in last year’s Rural Schools Write Read Inspire Project

The Rural Schools Write, Read and Inspire Project will take place from June 10 to June 14 and applications are now open for primary schools to apply to the initiative to receive a fully-funded author visit.

Founded by award-winning author Lorna McCann, from Childs Ercall, in partnership with The Rural Charity – an offshoot of the Shropshire & West Midlands Agricultural Society – the project ran successfully for the first time in 2018 and involved five rural primary schools.

This year, as the project continues to expand, a further five schools will be selected to take part, giving Key Stage 1 pupils the opportunity to meet a real-life author and experience creative workshops linked to books and storytelling.

Lorna, who has published two Amazon bestselling books, one of which was crowned Best Children’s Product at the 2018 BCA awards, said: “We are absolutely delighted to announce the return of the project in 2019 and we are even more excited to reveal that we have two more children’s authors on board who will be delivering storytelling sessions and creative workshops in schools during the week-long initiative.

“Telford-based author Sarah Griffiths and Liverpool-based children’s writer and professional storyteller Jude Lennon will be joining the project this year as we continue to build on its success and inspire a love for reading and writing among primary children.

“It really is an absolutely fantastic opportunity for teachers to enhance literacy education within their schools and we look forward to hearing from those who would like to be involved.”

During their visits to schools, authors Lorna, Sarah and Jude, who are part of the Team Author UK network, will talk about their careers as writers, read from their books, share some of their writing tips with children and conduct creative workshops.

Each visit will last approximately two hours and there will also be an opportunity for pupils to ask questions and receive a signed copy of the author’s books.

Ian Bebbington, chief executive of The Rural Charity, which is the project’s primary sponsor, said: “Last year those schools involved in the project had an absolutely fantastic time learning to be author-illustrators and producing their own front covers and short stories.

“We are thrilled to be funding the initiative which was developed around the idea of providing opportunities and new experiences to children in small schools which might not otherwise be accessible due to funding limitations.

“Budgets are tight in many schools but especially in those where the pupil numbers are low. It’s also often the case within small schools that parents get asked to support and financially contribute to extracurricular activities on a regular basis which can be difficult.

“This project is about overcoming those hurdles by providing fully-funded author visits with zero cost to the schools involved. It really is an opportunity not to be missed.”

A school visit from an author can benefit children in a number of ways from improving literacy to inspiring reluctant readers. It can give children confidence, broaden knowledge of literature and help develop creative writing skills.

As well as enhancing literacy education in schools, the project will also support the creative work of independent authors like Lorna, Sarah and Jude and the week-long programme has been designed to coincide with Indie Author Week UK, which runs from June 8 to June 15.

The closing date for applications is Friday April 19. Schools interested in being involved can find out more and download the application form at www.lornamccannauthor.co.uk via the Projects page or email Lorna at lorna.mccann@teamauthoruk.co.uk.

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