Volunteer reflections: words from Jack Young

Jack is undertaking an MA in Multilingualism, Linguistics and Education at Goldsmiths and has been volunteering on our core Free Writers project and our EYFS Creative ESOL project at Henry Fawcett Primary School where he works. The support he has given our children and young people this term is invaluable and we can’t thank him enough. As one final request we asked him to reflect on his experiences on the projects…

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Freewriters’ group on Thursday afternoons. It’s been a really invigorating experience being involved in a project which gives space to teenagers to write what they want to write. So many of the young people enter the space with the visible stress of week after week of practice exam, clearly feeling like the creative potential of education is non-existent, which is what makes the free writes all the more important and special. The bravery with which they explore how to create narratives out of their lived experiences, often from deeply troubling and difficult journeys of migration, always astounds me. to what is most It is refreshing, out of the confines I myself feel as a primary school teacher, to give them the space to shape the sessionsmeaningful for them and for them to articulate, in the way most pertinent to them, the stories they want- and often need- to tell. There should be more space for creative writing in mainstream schools, that is without doubt, but Free Writers has provided an illuminating glimpse into the vast funds of knowledge the young people we work with already have and should be allowed to tap into more readily.

I have also been working with Rewrite this term on a Creative ESOL project with EYFS (the first of its kind i believe!) at the school I teach in in Oval. Though the school was not new to the Creative ESOL model – we ran a session with our school last year- the layout, challenges and findings of our EYFS project has been pretty distinct.

We noticed quite quickly how much more structure and visual cues were going to be needed to maintain focus in the sessions, also discovering how vital multi-sensory stimuli were to engaging the children involved. It’s certainly been a challenge, but we’ve found through balloons, puppets, singing and dancing a formula that I think now works brilliantly. There’s such a fine balance when helping younger children with second language acquisition between the importance of spontaneous play and also the need for groups like Rewrite to boost social confidence and help develop a sense of belonging. As a pilot project with this age group I think we’ve learnt a lot about the need for consistency in the group and how repetition (with variation) of activities is crucial to the pupils’ feeling of confidence and security in the space. I think there could be exciting room for parents to also be more involved in projects like this in the future and for this to stimulate the participatory nature of Creative ESOL with younger children, to create an immersive and inclusive space. I’m excited at the prospect of Rewrite setting up more projects with this age group in the future as I think, through the trials and tribulations of our 10 weeks, we’ve honed down a really impactful model”

Emotion Collage

Emotion collages from Henry Fawcett

Thank you SO MUCH to Jack and we hope to work with you again in the future.