Skill Sharing Day: Leicester 2012
This event was hosted by De Montfort University.
Around 50 writers attended the event, jointly organized by Writing East
Midlands, Writing West Midlands, De Montfort University and NAWE.
Introducing the day, I found myself describing it is a branch line of
the NAWE Conference, its principles being the same: those of peer
learning and mutual support, the very same things that underpin NAWE’s
mission as a whole – sharing the art, craft and imagination.
Sue Horner gave the opening address, stating what she considers to be
the challenges and opportunities for writers in schools. With a new
curriculum that seems to have ignored the expert panel that gave it such
detailed consideration, writers are perhaps once again to become the
‘antidote’, but we still have power to steer teachers’ subsequent work.
We do however need to help teachers understand the writer’s process; we
need to become better at explaining what it is that we do.
Sue stressed the importance of ‘group power’; writers are sole traders
and it is only by forming a community of practice that we have
influence. This, again, underlines the importance of NAWE (and the folly
of ACE in ignoring that fact).
In making my own closing remarks, I endorsed Sue’s views and applauded
the assembled community of writers who were effectively placing
themselves at the forefront of work with young people, demonstrating the
necessary commitment to sharing their practice, improving their own
skills and reinforcing our strength as a group.
It is particularly important that peer learning continues to
characterize professional development for writers in education. The
whole writers-in-schools movement grew because writers found that their
work with young people enriched their own practice. That experience has
been passed on with ever greater sophistication, and our Navigator
partnership is currently working to complement that which we know works
well. It may well be that some radical new training opportunities are
developed. It is however crucial that any such development is undertaken
with the full support of the community. We can therefore ensure all
NAWE members that we will use the Navigator partnership to the best of
our ability, ensuring that the combined voice of some 25,000 artists is
heard when any new measures are introduced.