A touch of magic as Sheffield primary school enables pupils to experience world of imagination

Pupils at a Sheffield primary school get to experience the world of imagination like no other as a way to get their creative juices flowing especially after a year of uncertainty due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Year 4 pupils at Byron Wood Primary Academy, which is part of Astrea Academy Trust, have been taking part in an immersive and magical creative writing experience that they will never forget, thanks to a £150,000 grant from Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Teacher Development Fund.

The grant will support a unique partnership and programme of teacher continuous professional development (CPD) between Astrea Academy Trust and ground-breaking literacy charity Grimm & Co – with Byron Wood one of the first to benefit.

The innovative ‘Chapter & Verse’ teacher CPD programme will bring the magic of Grimm and Co’s Apothecary – a place that transports its visitors to fantastical places of imagination and dreams – into the heart of each school, enabling Astrea teachers to truly bring to life the creative writing process.

A creative writing workshop at Byron Wood Academy with Inspector Arty. Picture: Chris Etchells

A travelling theatre, styled in the theme of The Iron Man, the pupils’ class novel, has been built at Byron Wood Primary Academy, providing the stage for unforgettable creative writing lessons designed to develop the children’s imagination, confidence and skills.

During this unique CPD programme, the practitioners from Grimm & Co are working in close partnership with Byron Wood’s Year 4 teachers, modelling an innovative, pupil-led approach to facilitate the creative writing process through a blend of drama, music, poetry and storytelling.

Following a year blighted by school closures and a lack of cultural experience, Chapter & Verse provides pupils with a mesmerising school experience, as well as representing a shift away from the often outcome-orientated writing process that dominates education today.

Bee Wood, Principal, Byron Wood Primary Academy, said: “I am thrilled we are one of the first Astrea schools to host Chapter & Verse – an incredible opportunity that is already having a positive impact on the children. They are all incredibly excited to step into the world of The Iron Man and I can’t wait to see their creativity flow.”

A creative writing workshop at Byron Wood Academy with Inspector Arty. Pictured is Rebih Mohammed, nine. Picture: Chris Etchells

Rowena Hackwood, CEO Astrea Academy Trust, said: “I am delighted that our unique partnership with Grimm & Co is giving pupils a memorable experience that will help reignite their passion for writing, as well as embedding an innovative approach to creative writing strategy across our schools.”

Deborah Bullivant, Founding CEO of Grimm & Co said: “When we applied for the funding to do this project we had no idea there was a global pandemic ahead. Grimm's exhilarating technique truly brings the curriculum and children's writing to life through the journey into imaginations and the joyful discovery of stories.

Catherine Sutton, Head of Programme - Education, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, said: “Chapter & Verse will support and empower teachers to embed creative storytelling and story making in the curriculum. This programme will create inspiring, child-led opportunities for pupils to develop their creative writing, and to improve their confidence and wellbeing.

During the two-year project, Year 4 teachers at the 10 participating Astrea schools will collaborate with Grimm & Co practitioners to embed this innovative pupil-led creative writing strategy into their practice, reshaping the way creative writing is experienced by local children.

A creative writing workshop at Byron Wood Academy with Inspector Arty. Picture: Chris Etchells
A creative writing workshop at Byron Wood Academy with Inspector Arty. Pictured is Brindley Said, nine. Picture: Chris Etchells