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NAWE trainees
Tue 2 Dec 2003
John Clarke (pictured) and Matt Black are two of the trainees from last year's NAWE training programme to be featured in the latest edition of Writing in Education. A further eight trainees are now embarking on the new year's programme.
John Clarke describes a project to produce 'enhanced labels' for visitors to the City Art Gallery, Leeds, with visual impairments. Matt Black reflects on what he personally gained from NAWE's programme for more experienced writers working in schools.

NAWE advertised a further 5 traineeships for writers wishing to work in these settings but we have finally offered eight writers the opportunity to benefit from the programme, and we are publishing a brief introduction to each of them.

The traineeships are aimed at writers who have yet to gain substantial experience in running workshops in an educational setting, or those who would benefit from further training and support. The focus of the training will include working with young people in schools who do not see themselves as active readers/writers - schools in education action zones, inner city areas, etc.

Each trainee works with a mentor/coach and undertakes a placement as part of the course. It is an excellent way to gain further experience in this field of work, make contacts and be given a national profile through NAWE.

Graham Denton lives in East Yorkshire with his wife and two children. As a musician, he has performed at both the Hull Literature and Edinburgh festivals, as well as writing commissioned pieces for theatre and dance performances. He is both an avid reader and writer of poetry for children. Through his own small press, Hands Up Books, he has published two anthologies and is currently putting together two collections of humorous verse for children by the American poet Robert Scotellaro. Some of his own poems for children have been published by Red Fox and Macmillan, and he was recently commissioned by Macmillan Children's Books to compile an anthology of poems for children on the theme of 'superstitions', (to be published in August 2005). Though his experience of working in educational settings is at present limited, he sees the NAWE traineeship as the ideal opportunity to gain the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and confidence to develop his work and, ultimately, secure regular employment in schools.

Meg Harper has a background in teaching, and has taught drama out of school for ten years. She is passionate about interactive, hands-on education and is currently studying for an MA in Drama and Theatre Education. Meg is a professional writer for children, primarily in the realism genre and believes that young people can benefit from writing alongside herself, or in response to her input. Her publications include My Mum and the Gruesome Twosome (Lion) and The Ghost in the Gallery (Lion 2001). Her most recent publication is Grandma's Party.

Jasmine Johnson was born in Jamaica. She came to Britain as a teenager, where she finished off her secondary education at Hatherley Girl's school in Gloucester. After a few years of corporate life, Jasmine embarked on a university degree at the University of Wolverhampton, where she gained a BA Honours Degree in Media and Communications studies. However, way before that (back in Jamaica as a little girl) Jasmine's passion for creative writing - poetry, songs and short stories - had always been a fervent one. Her first poem was published in an anthology called Modern Poets '76 in 1976. Her debut novel (Mr Soon Come) was published by The X Press publishers, London. It won her the New Nations Writer of the Year Award 2001. Her second novel (The Devil I Know) is due out in a few weeks. These are both adult novels, but Jasmine also writes for children. Although inspired by the likes of Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Terry McMillan and Alice Walker, Jasmine admits that Maya Angelou is the most inspirational. Jasmine's aim is continually to share her creative knowledge and experience with both adults and children, and hopes one day to become freelance in her field.

Holly Lyons is currently working as a staff writer on Emmerdale. She has worked as a writer and script editor on shows such as 24 Seven and Girls in Love for Granada Kids. One of her 24 Seven episodes was nominated at Prix Jeunesse 2002. Holly has also worked as a writer for Tracy Beaker, Fireman Sam, My Parents Are Aliens, and she wrote the pilot script for Siriol's new animation project, Holly's Helpline. Last year, Holly participated in a Media Exchange programme where she spent a week as an Intern in the story office of the US Drama series, The District. In 2000, she won a EBU Pygmalion Grant to develop her series Hamlet's Diner in conjunction with the BBC. She also has several of her own projects in development. Before moving to the UK in 1999, Holly worked in Sydney as a writer/script editor on Home Away for Channel Seven Australia, and also on Water Rats for Southern Star Australia.

Virginia Monson is a performance poet and writer. A former career journalist in the fields of newspaper, broadcast and trade media, she has expertise as a PR consultant in the marketing, retailing, business and market research industries. She currently runs a Pier Playwrights reading group and last winter completed Anna McGrath's Sussex University-based course - Writing for Stage and Radio. She recently re-edited Three Pennyworth of Dark, a book by her late uncle, Tony Hounsome, which chronicles in detail how cinematography came to the Sussex market town of East Grinstead. She is interested in the role creative writing can play as a developmental and therapeutic tool in healthcare, education and therapy.

Anne Ryland worked in London as a schoolteacher of German before moving to Berwick-upon-Tweed six years ago. She is now a tutor of adults at her local community centre, teaching literacy and related subjects, as well as a Writing Poetry course. In 2002 she gained a distinction in the MA in Writing Poetry at Newcastle University, and is presently assembling her first full-length collection. Her poems are widely published in magazines, including Acumen, Staple, Smiths Knoll, Orbis, Other Poetry, Northwords, Envoi and The Interpreter's House. Her poems also appear in the anthologies Entering the Tapestry (Enitharmon) and Making Worlds (Headland). She has published poems and book reviews on the Internet, and an article in the Basic Skills Agency's magazine, on how poetry can be integrated into adult literacy teaching. Drawing on her experience of teaching adults and children, she now hopes to develop a role as a freelance writer working in educational and other community settings. The NAWE traineeship represents an important step in that direction. In particular, she values the learning opportunity offered by the placement and the guidance of a mentor. She is looking forward to blending her love of writing and teaching in new and fruitful ways.

Amanda Swift was originally an actress and got into writing through stand-up comedy and devised plays. She has written television, radio and books; in recent years these have been mainly for children. She has worked on the first two series of My Parents Are Aliens and was lead writer on the first series of 24 Seven, both for Granada Kids/CITV. She adapted Jacqueline Wilson's Bed and Breakfast Star and The Dare Game for Catherine Bailey Ltd/BBC Radio 4. She is currently working on I Dream, a musical drama vehicle for S Club 8 made by CBBC/19. The Boys' Club, her first novel for 9 - 12 year olds, is being published by Simon and Schuster in March 2004. A second is commissioned.

Carolyn Thomas is a special needs teacher working on a part-time basis with children who have learning disorders such as dyslexia and dyspraxia. She has always been a keen writer and has had a few things performed, most recently excerpts from her sitcom, Going Critical, which was selected by TAPS (Television and Performance Showcase) and enabled her to attend their intensive weekend writers' workshop. She is currently working on a children_s novel and a comedy radio play. She is hoping to run creative writing workshops as a lunchtime activity for pupils in her new teaching post and is organizing a creative writing group for her local community. She is a founder member of an online writing group called 'Scriptreader'. She also attends creative writing evening classes run by Todd Kingsley-Jones. She lives in West Sussex with her partner, son and dog.

Contact Information:
National Association of Writers in Education
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Anne Caldwell
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