Fact and Fiction for Y7 with Christopher Edge

What an interesting morning we had with author Christopher Edge, a writer who incorporates scientific theories into his story lines. He was not daunted by the prospect of talking to all 270 Y7 students in our theatre, and didn’t wrong-foot on the Chicago set (ready for our school production)! He was here to promote his recent novels, The many worlds of Albie Bright and The Jamie Drake equation.

Christopher spent an hour checking what scientific knowledge we had before offering his own versions of the workings of parallel universes and thoughts on alien life communities. Students were engaged and keen to contribute throughout the presentation. As groups returned to their classes around 80 students stayed to purchase a book of their choice and speak to Christopher while he signed it for them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After a quick break we had him up and running again but this time in the smaller setting of our Reading Room, where he ran a workshop for 30 students who had asked to come to find out the best way to begin a story. If you look at our photos you may recognise some of the opening lines that Christopher used to illustrate the best way to tackle this; from authors like Patrick Ness, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Christopher gave  everyone the opportunity to choose their favourite and then encouraged them to begin writing a story of their own to follow it. There was just time to read out his favourites.

We would like to say a BIG THANK YOU to Christopher for coming to visit and share his work with us. The students for participating in both events and their teachers for giving up their lessons for Periods 1 and 2.


The power of stories: Non Pratt working with Year 9.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hurrah, we invited Non Pratt back into school, after a great day with her last year – and she accepted!

She will be giving a presentation to half the year group in the afternoon about her work as a writer and the Power of stories – as usual bringing in ideas from films, TV and the news, not just books.

In the morning two lucky groups of students, chosen by their English Teachers, will be working more closely with her on Character creation and Doing the Dialogue.

Students Y8-10 who are not doing English P5 on Wednesday 10th May can come to the library and ask for a ticket for the Presentation, The power of stories.


Yr 9 Avoiding Trouble with Non Pratt

It took a while to finalize dates and events with the new writer on the block, Non Pratt, but so worth it! She came into school on Wednesday after a 5.15am start from Enfield and worked with our Y9 students non stop until the end of school.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We ran 2 workshops in the morning for selected students, on Character building and Devilish dialogue – and the Library Ladiez think they were our most successful ones to date. Non came well prepared to deliver 1hr 20 minute lessons with pace, humour and plenty of feedback. All students eagerly participated in describing characters from popular culture (from Dora the Explorer to Cat Woman) and reading aloud from their work to collect positive and constructive feedback from Non. The dialogue students worked on creating interesting and insightful words that might have been spoken by Hansel & Gretel – with the help of a Norwegian badger (but that is another story!).

Great fun! The activities were good and got you thinking very easily.      Ben & Rowan

I was expecting someone trying to make an aspect of writing I thought boring, sound fun in a cheesy over-excited manner but Non wasn’t like that at all. She made everything sound interesting, even fairy tales.        Helen

I really enjoyed the workshop! Non made even the simplest things seem exciting. She was hilarious and all the activities were very interesting. The time flew by and I wish it could have been longer.       Amber

We invited some keen readers and writers to a picnic lunch with a couple of English teachers and our Library Link Governor before taking over the 6th form theatre – for Non to present a thought provoking show about Gender stereotypes in popular culture to 150 English students.

Non was very engaging and the issues she talked about were relevant. She used points that were correct and persuasive. she made you think.      Molly

The talk that Non gave was really interesting because I didn’t realise how much women are stereotyped and put into passive roles in films and books. I really enjoyed the talk and it made me think.      Becky

Totally rad.        Anon

The talk made us think about how girls don’t get as much credit/opportunity and Non addressed it to the right audience.    Lucy, Chelsea & James

Find more words and information from Non at https://authorallsorts.wordpress.com/non-pratt/


Thank you Non, for stirring us up for the day. We now have waiting lists for you books!

David Gatward was here!


Year 9 (all of them) will know what this means. The rest of you will need to read the rest of this post to find out!!

The Library Ladiez have had their eye on David for a while, having heard reports of his entertainment value as well as his enthusiasm for promoting reading and writing. So when we found he had some days free, we booked him up to work with the whole of Y9.

He agreed to 2 talks (so we could have 1/2 the year group in the 6th form theatre at a time during their English lessons) and a writing workshop for 25 students, put forward by their English teachers. Inbetween these we managed a “Literary Lunch” with 4 boys keen to meet David close up, and a few English staff. All in all, a busy but successful day. We will let our pictures speak for themselves, but scroll down to read what the students’ thought of the events – because we wanted to make a good impression upon them. I think we did!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Chloe said: “David Gatward was a brilliant author to have visit. He instantly got our attention when he told us he wasn’t one of those ordinary authors that just read their books in front of us! He told exciting stories about his life and why he started writing. overall, a great talk.”

Ellie attended the writing workshop and said: “David Gatward was one of the most bombastic and hilarious authors I have ever had the pleasure to meet. His ways of conjuring a story from the depths of his mind are far from the ordinary. However, after he shared them with us I have to admit that they did work extremely well. Through everything he said he weaved in the fact that to be a good writer you have to have the confidence to be able to read your story aloud to others. I think now I have finally grasped that idea! David’s talk later, was far from dreary, especially when he got into his climbing tights from the 1980s, which were so bright they almost made you feel ill!! His talk also inspired me to do a bit more with my life, with some crazy things thrown in, because ordinary is boring!”

Ed said, “David was great! He was funny and told us what he did to get where he is today, which was really interesting”

You can find much more information about David on his website here.

Ex-student runs a writing workshop for Y7.

We were thrilled to invite Sian Norris back into school who has become a published author since we last saw her in 2003.
She ran two writing workshops for Y7 students who were being rewarded for fantastic reading this year in their Library Lessons, based around her book Greta and Boris

Cover 2

Students listened to her beautiful reading of a chapter and then prepared descriptive details for their own characters and settings. Here are some of the mind maps the students created:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sian was happy to sign book plates and answer questions about her day job as a copy writer for an agency supporting the work of charities as well as her personal writing.


“It was really good hearing her inspirations for her book and how it was written and then illustrated. ” said Ben

“Her book sounds very emotional and heart warming. If I had made this book, I would be very proud of myself.” said Emily

“Meeting Sian Norris was amazing because she went to Backwell School and then became an author.” said Imogen.




Fairy Tales, revisited with Melvin Burgess.

Having read his first novel, The Cry of the Wolf, back in 1990, Mrs Gibson has been a fan of Melvin Burgess ever since, so she was not going to turn down the opportunity of having him visiting Backwell School! As he usually writes for older teenagers these days, she was pleased to offer an event for the older students in school. Rather than the traditional “author talk”, she and the English Department arranged for Melvin to run two workshops for Y10-12 students who enjoy writing and wish to learn more about the craft.

What a thought-provoking morning we had! Melvin emphasised the importance of structure, and proceeded to use fairy stories to analyse character and event. We dissected Jack and the Beanstalk and Snow White – great stories, seminal characters and known world wide, even in the Congo. Then we attempted to recreate our own modern stories with the same bare bones – not so easy, but some great ideas. 

For those who are interested in writing, he recommended the ARVON Foundation  who run residential writing courses across the country. He also spoke highly of the Creative Writing Degree course at Bath Spa University . 

And don’t forget the Rule of 10,000 hours (which includes reading)!

Dead bodies and pot-bellied pigs.

The Library had a busy day on Tuesday when author, Tanya Landman, came to visit. In the morning she worked with two Year 10 groups, encouraging them to think about planning when writing. What better way to do this than plan a murder. We needed a celebrity victim, a nasty death, plenty of suspects with reasons to hate and a confession. Victims included Noel Edmonds, Psy, Michael Gove and Spencer and the opening scenes and final conclusions were varied and atmospheric. Well done to all those attending.

Setting the scene with a murder involves a celebrity drowning in her own toilet!
Setting the scene with a murder involves a celebrity drowning in her own toilet!

After a picnic lunch with some Year 7 readers, Tanya entertained 80 students with smelly tales of pet pigs (inspired by Charlotte’s Web as a child), some historical background about early explorers, Native Americans and Aztecs, involving a large inflatable globe whilst explaining how she writes and  works with her publisher.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

At the end of the event, students  were challenged to remember what they had seen on a tray as they entered the library. The 10 items are shown below and we have picked two winners, who will receive a signed copy of one of her books.

Did you remember all of these?
Did you remember all of these?