Sunday 9 December 2018

How do we create a writing-friendly environment?

Writing will not flourish unless we create a writing-friendly environment. The main ways we can do this is through publication and performance. This makes it sounds grander than it is. What I mean by ‘publication’, is any means by which we can enable the pupils’ writing to be seen by other pupils, friends, family and the world at large. This might be through legible wall-displays, booklets, books, magazines, using the school bulletin, creating blogs, printing off writing ‘pamphlets’, creating ‘guides’ to places that the pupils have visited, and indeed any writing outlet at all. This involves re-thinking the ideal outcome of pupils’ writing as not being the ‘good bit of work in an exercise book’ but a ‘piece of writing that will be seen and read anywhere’.

This builds in expectation, purpose, audience and feedback, the great motors for writing of all kinds.

Same goes for ‘performance’. Here I mean writing things that can be performed in class, in assemblies, sound tracks for powerpoints, or blogs, videos, films, sound tracks, plays, poetry cabarets, late-night spooky readings and so on. Again, this builds in expectation, purpose, audience and feedback.

Together, when pupils see that their writing has a home and a place and is part of processes that involve readers and viewers, the whole matter of ‘getting it right’ takes on another meaning - and it’s the same meaning that ‘real’ writers use: how will I interest and affect ‘real’ readers?

By doing this we immerse the pupils’ writing into the world of writing at large. This also means creating reading-friendly environments through a thorough and thought-out reading-for-pleasure policy. I’ve written a plan for this: see

There is another here:

And there is an ongoing programme here:

These are all vital and should be adapted to suit purpose for all schools, all teachers and - more importantly - for all pupils and parents.

If we want to create an environment in which children want to and can write, it has to be a reading-for-pleasure environment too.