Heart of England News

Children Rap up Stratford Literary

Last week, Thomas Jolyffe Primary School enjoyed a visit from author Steve Cole, and surprised him with a very special performance.

Steve, who has sold over 3 million copies of his books which include the Young Bond novels and Cows in Action, visited last Tuesday to round off a term of events inspired by his work. The school gave Steve a very warm welcome and surprised him with a rendition of ‘The Steve Cole Rap’, written by deputy head Matthew Penn.

Thomas Jolyffe is currently halfway through a two term initiative with Stratford Literary Festival, Exploring Stories, which aims to engage reluctant readers and bring them to reading via a different route. As part of this, this term the children have been working on a project called My Author. Enabled by a grant from Stratford Town Trust, the project kicked off in October with an initial visit from Steve, who entertained the children with stories and writing tips.

In the weeks following, all the children spent time engaging with his books through a variety of activities. This included a workshop with year 4, delivered by youth theatre group, Playbox Theatre, an afternoon making sculptures inspired by Steve’s Astrosaurs book with year 5, by local group Escape Arts, and creative writing with year 6, led by local storyteller Kate Coleman. Last Tuesday’s visit marked the end of the project and the children presented their work to Steve and talked to him about what they had learned.

'What I love about the Stratford Festival is that it allows the author to plant creative seeds with a school and then return a few weeks later to see how they've grown,’ said Steve. ‘The children clearly relished being able to present their work – which was impressive and imaginative – and I loved the inclusivity of the entire school serenading me with the brilliant 'Steve Cole Rap'!' 

Deputy Head, Matthew Penn said, ‘Although the curriculum at Thomas Jolyffe Primary is wonderfully diverse, the opportunity to meet star authors such as Steve brings the school alive. Where else would you find a performance of theatrics, rap, sculpture, creative writing and artwork such as this? Steve was an inspiration and we are indebted to the Festival and Stratford Town Trust for everything they have done to help.’

‘Reading books and sharing bedtime stories, which is so important, is sadly becoming rarer for young people,’ says Annie Ashworth, Festival Director. ‘We hope that through projects like this we can engage children, and show them the joys of reading. It was brilliant to see what the children had been up to, and to witness their excitement and enthusiasm.‘

The Exploring Stories initiative will continue next term in Thomas Jolyffe, with a visit from another published author, a Bedtime Story Party, and Friday afternoon story time, led by Festival volunteers.

For further information: stratlitfest.co.uk