Case Study: Jurassic Coast Teaching School Alliance

In 2014 the Poetry Society worked with Woodroffe School of the Jurassic Coast Teaching School Alliance to develop an INSET programme for 9 Secondary and 3 Primary schools from Dorset’s Jurassic Coast area.

The project was set up to empower and inspire teachers with exciting and effective ways of using poetry in the classroom, drawing on the ancient Beer Quarry Caves as inspiration. The Poetry Society brought in experienced poet-educators Mandy Coe and Paul Hyland to develop a range of teaching resources and to lead the INSET workshops, whilst commissioning local poet Greta Stoddard to write a poem as a celebratory legacy for the programme. 

Prior to the day, Paul and Mandy developed a range of bespoke teaching resources aimed at different key stages and abilities, ready to workshop them with teachers on the day. On the 2nd May 2014, more than 30 teachers from across the 12 schools gathered for the event, launched with a plenary session led by Paul and Mandy on the value of poetry in schools – and the rich possibilities of using geographic sites as stimulus. This led to a series of intensive workshops culminating with teachers sharing their own poems. 

Over the weeks following the INSET, all participating teachers took their pupils to visit the Beer Quarry Caves to gather inspiration before returning to the classroom to implement the creative techniques and lesson ideas developed with Paul and Mandy. In these lessons pupils all created their own poems in response to the caves.

As students wrote their poems poet Greta Stoddard worked on her own poem exploring the caves and their place in local heritage. Greta’s poem was a tangible example to all involved of how poetry can come out of workshops like this, and will be part of the celebration of project which will take place at Exeter Cathedral in January 2015. 

To find out more about bespoke INSET sessions from the Poetry Society, please contact us.

Feedback from teachers: 

 “I can’t remember the last time I have felt such a buzz of excitement from students about my subject. The Cave project seems to have triggered of a real passion for creative writing… I have had actual goose-bump moments in the lessons following Cave day where I’ve seen people who have struggled all year to engage with imaginative, figurative and descriptive writing, suddenly draw on the experiences of the day and produce”

Andy Brown, Head of Year 8 Woodroffe School

“I came away from the afternoon with lots of ideas for teaching creative writing and poetry. In fact, I have already tried out one of the techniques for writing poetry with my Year 7 group and they were amazed at their own abilities! ”  

Teacher, The King’s School, Ottery St. Mary, Devon

“They struck the right note between pragmatic approach and encouraging creative thinking. In addition, the course provided a rare and welcome opportunity to share ideas with other teachers on teaching creative writing. Thank you. “

Teacher, Colyton Grammar School, Devon