Three Bradford Schools have become the first in the North to adopt a new scheme designed to get more pupils involved in literature.
First Story is a scheme that works with pupils from deprived areas who may not normally be engaged with writing, introducing them to established authors who help them write their own short stories and poems, drawing from their own experiences.
These works are then published in an anthology at the end of the school year, with the finished book logged in the British Library.
Already a success in London, Oxford and Nottingham, the scheme is run in schools in deprived areas of cities, and has never been tried in the North before. The Duchess of Cornwall is a patron of the project and it is hoped she may visit some of the participating schools.
Jess Summers, an English teacher at Immanuel College, Thackley, set up the scheme in Bradford and it started last month, teaching groups of 15 to 16 pupils from each participating school.
Young poet Andrew McMillan is working with pupils from Carlton Bolling College, while Bradford-born poet Kate Fox works with a group at Feversham College. Richard MacSween, author of children’s novel Victory Street, is working with a group at Belle Vue Boys Grammar School.
Over the school year they will pay numerous visits to the schools to work with pupils to offer them advice on how to come up with their final pieces.
Mrs Summers said the project was a great way to show young people what they are capable of, adding: “The pupils get to see their book on sale and we arrange a book launch. These are kids who might normally find it difficult to engage in literature. The work they produce tend to be either short stories or poetry.
“We’re going to make this a success. It is worthwhile and such a good opportunity for the young people involved.
“The authors make them comfortable in writing about their lives. A lot start out writing about something outside themselves, but they are encouraged to think about their lives – that’s what we’re trying to develop.”
As part of the scheme, a group of pupils from Belle Vue school attended the Young Writers’ Festival at Oxford University last week to give them a further taster of life as a published writer.