Why have poetry in school?

How do children and young people engage with poetry?

In 2018, NPD carried out a survey with the National Literacy Trust. Here’s what we found out:
• Poetry appeals to boys (41.7%) as well as girls (52%).
• Poetry can help students feel creative and free in their writing. They see poetry as having fewer rules than other forms of writing, and more freedom
over the subject they are writing about.
• Poetry can help young people to connect on an emotional level, and to express themselves and their feelings.
• Poems become bridges over time and space, helping students feel more connected to how others think and feel.
• Poetry is relatable in youth and popular culture (‘like a song without music’).
• Children and young people who read and write poetry in their free time have improved literacy outcomes.
• Children who receive free school meals are more likely to spend free time on poetry than those who do not (55.7% vs. 43%).





Our EAL students clearly enjoyed seeing their cultures represented in the form of poems. They felt “seen”.
Teacher, Coventry

Here’s why poetry in schools is so important:

• Teachers are key influencers in whether children and young people consume and/or create poetry. Almost half of those who engage with poetry (44.8%) and more than half of those who write poetry (50.1%) said their teachers were their main source of encouragement – more than their parents, carers, friends, or even celebrities.
• The lack of engagement with poetry is a greater issue as children get older. Almost three quarters of those aged 11-14 (70.2%) told us they don’t engage with poetry at all. You can help to address this issue by introducing and reinforcing poetry engagement throughout the school years.
• A lot of children and young people are ‘put off’ by poetry because they think it’s boring (50%) or doesn’t cover topics that they are interested in (40%). You can challenge these assumptions in the classroom by taking a fun and informal approach to poetry, and by looking at examples that have relevant themes.





Evidence of impact

Engaging with poetry can have many positive impacts for learning and wellbeing, and National Poetry Day is the perfect time to get started. Bringing poetry into your school can support literacy skills and language learning by integrating reading, writing, speaking and listening in meaningful ways (1). Exploring poetry offers in-roads to challenging themes and issues such as culture and identity (2), and finding that people have similar feelings and experiences can promote students’ empathy for others (3). Creating poetry can also be therapeutic, helping to alleviate anxiety, reduce stress, and improve emotional resilience (4) (5). It can be an empowering experience for children and young people to discover their own poetic voice, and the process can improve their self-awareness, self-expression and self-esteem (6).