School poetry project gets Halifax pupils well versed

PoetryQuest helps pupils find a new creativity and life skill with words''Year 5 pupils at All Saints' Junior & Infant School, Halifax take to the stage.
PoetryQuest helps pupils find a new creativity and life skill with words''Year 5 pupils at All Saints' Junior & Infant School, Halifax take to the stage.
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A project to get primary school children in Halifax writing and performing their own poetry with the help of established poets has been hailed a success by teachers.

The national PoetryQuest scheme, created and run by arts education charity Children & the Arts, has been working with 158 pupils aged between eight and 11 years old in four schools, with the aim of getting children with little or no experience of poetry to understand, create and perform it.

PoetryQuest helps pupils find a new creativity and life skill with words''Year 5 pupils at All Saints' Junior & Infant School, Halifax take to the stage.

PoetryQuest helps pupils find a new creativity and life skill with words''Year 5 pupils at All Saints' Junior & Infant School, Halifax take to the stage.

During the finale of the event last week, pupils performed their own creations solo and in groups, and as a whole class recital. Plans are now being made to carry on the poetry work once the project finishes.

The schools taking part were Warley Road Primary School and All Saints’ Junior and Infant School in Halifax, St Mary’s C of E Junior & Infant School in Sowerby Bridge and St Chad’s C of E Primary School in Brighouse.

The schools were split into two groups with poetry workshops and performances organised and delivered by Halifax-based Square Chapel Centre for the Arts, working with poets Keith Hutson and Winston Plowes.

Whilst PoetryQuest is in its fifth year, this is the first time it has ever been run in Halifax. The last time it went ahead in Yorkshire was in Wakefield in 2009. The scheme has also been funded by Halifax-born supporter Jonathan Moulds.

Claire Brice, a Year 5 Teacher at Warley Road School said: “My class moaned when I announced that we would be writing our final poem last week; they have been absolutely enthralled by the PoetryQuest extravaganza.

“Every Year 5 pupil competed in our grand ‘Poetry Slam’ finale - with not a sign of hesitation, nervousness or notes. A life skill that many adults would struggle with and one that they will never forget.”

Caroline Greenwood, a Year 5 Teacher at All Saints’ Junior & Infant School said: “The children have been totally engaged from the start. Studious, enthusiastic, excited. It’s been a golden opportunity to be able to work with two professional poets.”

Poet Keith Hutson said: “Both Warley Road School and St Mary’s have thrown themselves into it and I’ve watched the children respond to poetry, grow in performance confidence, and produce work that is not only well-crafted but funny and profound.”