National Poetry Day Schools Festival in Hull

July 14, 2017

This year, National Poetry Day will be launched from Hull, in honour of its status as city of culture. Hull, with its proud abolitionist history, via celebrated son William Wilberforce, is also behind this year’s NPD theme: FREEDOM. In May, the Hull No Limits Learning team invited National Poetry Day to run a poetry festival in Hull primary schools, a pilot project for future work in schools.
Poetry and freedom bird illustration
Led by NPD ambassador, poet and artist Sophie Herxheimer, five poets were recruited to work with the children over four days: Joseph Coelho, Chris McCabe, Kate Fox, Shazea Quraishi and Sarah Stutt.

Sophie and National Poetry Day manager Andrea Reece delivered a CPD day for the teachers, and everything was put in place for a week of poetry celebration, concluding with a public event at which the children would perform poems they had written.

And what a week it was! Poets and children worked together to share and write poems. In assemblies, workshops, lessons, even while exploring their local parks and streets, the children set their imaginations free; wonderful poems were written, and everybody felt inspired.

Teachers valued it hugely, as one said: ‘I have already used some ideas with great success and I know other teachers have commented on how many fantastic ideas they got from the sessions. Children have been inspired and have been making one-piece-of-paper poetry books at home.’

When asked, 95% of the children said that they enjoyed meeting the poets very much and that they enjoyed listening to the poets read their poems very much, 98% claimed to have enjoyed writing poetry themselves a lot or quite a lot.

Our poets too had a ball, enjoying having the time to get to know children and teachers. ‘It meant going out of my comfort zone with Year 3s’ said Kate Fox, ‘But it was fun and they produced some of the most visceral haiku I’ve ever read.’

Many of the ideas developed are included in our National Poetry Day toolkit which you can download for free.

Thank you to our poets and the teachers and pupils at Alderman Cogan, Collingwood, Ings and St Mary Queen of Martyrs primary schools for making this happen.