In June 2016, A&L Goodbody created a new three year partnership with Business to Arts to support and fund (€30,000 over the period) a new initiative called the Writer in Residence programme under the Docklands Arts Fund. This initiative places a professional writer to work with St Joseph’s Co-ed Primary School to further enhance its pupils literacy skills and improve their attitude to reading and writing. Catherine Ann Cullen, a children’s author and poet, was selected as the professional writer. She has been working since October 2016 with third class pupils (October to February) and fourth class pupils (February to May) for an hour each week to develop their creativity and literacy skills. The venture marks the first time that a business in Ireland has engaged a Writer in Residence programme with Business to Arts and Dublin City Council.
This programme complements A&LG’s ongoing work with Suas to boost literacy levels in the docklands neighbourhood and has created an exciting new dimension to engage and inspire children in the local community through literacy. St Joseph’s Co-ed Primary School in East Wall was the ideal partner as A&LG has supported them over the last 4 years through the Suas paired-reading programme.
The aim of the project is to:
Catherine Ann is focused on connecting their creativity with their local East Wall community as well as the wider world. Some of the classes’ creations to date include:
Another lovely element to the programme is that the pupils ‘commission’ Catherine Ann to write a poem on a theme they choose every week. She has produced a book of 14 poems for 3rd class, “HomeworkPoemwork”, with subjects as diverse as Pyramids and East Wall Troll. She has worked with 4th class on themes like Dresses and Football, and hopes to use some of these poems in her next collection.
Because of the success to date of the project, there is already agreement from all parties that Catherine Ann will continue as the Writer in Residence for the next academic year. Teachers report that the pupils involved in the programme are enjoying reading more, are much more confident about reading out loud and coming up with more creative ideas for their writing projects in class.
The Principal, Ellie Kennedy, said: “I visited third class today and saw the fantastic work you [Catherine Ann] have done with them…..Ms Boyle [teacher] also commented that even the children who find writing challenging came up with great ideas and were very excited to be putting their ideas on paper. . Thank you for inspiring children to put pen to paper and facilitating their impulse to write. Ms Boyle has said you have given her brilliant ideas for lessons going forward.”
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