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Creative Writing for Gambian Schools

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Special Note - Sadly, Julie Laslett has died since this page was originally published. Consequently Pageant has no plans for further Creative Writing Workshops. However, we are leaving this page largely in its original form, both as a record of a successful Pageant project, and as an inspiration to anyone who might like to run similar workshops.

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The Creative Writing Project

The Creative Writing Project was started by Julie Laslett and Caroline Webster, after a holiday to The Gambia in January 2011.

Julie (an ex-teacher and then director of Dramatic Media) and Caroline (actress, director and photographer - see Caroline's website had worked together previously, creating education resources for English and PSHE. During their visit to The Gambia they were struck by the absence of any creative writing in the schools' curriculum, despite all teaching and learning delivered in English.

The Gambian people are proud of the fact that they speak English, but for cultural reasons, plus the lack of literature resources, their use of the English language is extremely formal. Textbooks tend to use formal texts, either written or translated by writers for whom English is not their first language. Formal English is fine for use in a formal context, but for any context outside of the 'formal', it is extremely limited and often inappropriate.

Julie and Caroline therefore decided to create a resource specifically for The Gambia, aimed at stimulating creative thinking and enhancing the vocabulary and context of the written word.

The resource focuses on storytelling and writing, examining the structure and key features of fictional stories, with a modelling approach to generating content and the use of descriptive language.

Through their contacts with the Albion School in Banjul, the SOS Senior School, and Pippa and Ian of Pageant, Caroline and Julie delivered a series of one-day workshops to teachers and trainee teachers in January 2012. The aim of the workshops was to assist teachers in understanding and writing short stories, and learning how to use the resource with pupils in their own classroom.

Trainee Teachers  at the College writing their first ever short story
Trainee Teachers at the College writing their first ever short story
Caroline Webster and Trainee Teachers with their copy of the creative writing resource
Caroline Webster and Trainee Teachers with their copy of the creative writing resource

The workshops were great fun and extremely well received by the Gambian teachers, and by the end of each day, all of the participants had written their first ever story and enthusiastically took away a copy of the resource.

Click here to see the resource (PDF document - download reader & see note at bottom)

So What Happens Next?

After the success of the workshops, and the enthusiasm of the teachers in The Gambia, the aim is to support and develop the project further under the auspices of Pageant.

In order to achieve this, two initiatives are under way. Firstly, Julie and Caroline will oversee the creation of an Exemplar Scheme of Work that will give Gambian teachers clearly structured lessons for one term. The style of teaching required to deliver the Creative Writing project is very different to the formal methods used in The Gambia, and therefore the resource needs to carefully scaffold and model not only the learning content for the pupils, but also the delivery notes for the teacher.

The Exemplar Scheme of Work is currently in development, and once it is written, will be sent to all of those teachers who attended the workshops. It will also be available for download from this site.

Secondly, (and this is where you can join in the fun) Julie and Caroline also plan to run a training day for teachers interested in delivering and supporting ‘Creative Writing’ in The Gambia. If you would like to get involved and find out more, please get in touch.

The Story Bank

Teaching resources are scarce in The Gambia, and there are very few fictional texts available. Therefore, Julie and Caroline would like to develop an online story bank, providing Gambian teachers with fictional resources appropriate to their learning needs.

The first three stories are currently available on this website, and include two fabulous tales that were devised by teachers during the workshops. Both 'Morike The Hippo' and 'The Song Of Peace' are charming, quintessentially African tales, and deliver a clear moral outcome.

To explore descriptive language, the class take on the role of 'Morike' the hippo
To explore descriptive language, the class take on the role of 'Morike' the hippo
<< To explore descriptive language, the class take on the role of 'Morike' the hippo

Special Note: In our original version of this page, we requested English teachers or budding writers to send in short stories to add to the 'story bank'. Sadly this is no longer active, but if you are planning any Creative Writing Workshops of your own, you might find the criteria and examples below of use.

If you would like to tell us about a Creative Writing project or if we could help in any way, then please email Pageant
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The criteria for stories are:

To read the stories and see annotated versions for the teacher, click on the links below (PDF documents)

Note - some of these PDF documents may initially be displayed sideways, particularly when using older browsers. If this happens, you can get the correct orientation by 'right clicking' your mouse, and selecting 'rotate clockwise'.

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