Developing teachers’ confidence and skill to practice and teach creative writing is central to our mission. One of the ways we support teachers’ professional development is through our partnership with the Institute of Continuing Education at the University of Cambridge. We offer two bursaries for their PGCert in Creative Writing to teachers who write, or writers who teach, working in schools in low-income communities. Angela Andrew is a teacher at one of our schools, Haven High Academy in Boston, Lincolnshire, who won a bursary in 2019.
It was an ordinary afternoon in school when the opportunity of a lifetime dropped into my inbox.
I hadn’t been looking for additional study or commitments, but the Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching Creative Writing caught my attention immediately. The First Story programme, into its second year in our Academy, had awoken a love of writing and creativity within me. So, the prospect of finding out how to teach this in a more effective way and inspire the students was incredibly enticing. The other motivating factor was the location: the lure of Cambridge University pulled me in.
The workload was spread over the year, after each weekend there was an assignment to complete. This was daunting at first, it had been a few years since I had written in an academic way, but the words soon started to flow.
I count myself as very lucky to have had this amazing opportunity to develop my skills and confidence. I have learnt that I am able to achieve a great deal when I step outside of my comfort zone.
The reading has been interesting, giving a theoretical depth to what happens day-to-day in the classroom. It does require some time-management and a conscious ignoring of housework for a couple of weeks, particularly around deadlines, but I have honestly found this part of the course less difficult than I had thought. I even managed to complete an essay around work, my son’s birthday and GCSE exam marking! (Although the ironing was neglected for a few weeks…)
The residential aspect of the course has been a real treat. I remember heading up the drive to Madingley Hall for the first weekend, full of nerves and anticipation, and gazing in wonder at the beautiful building ahead. I would describe the weekends as a bubble – a picturesque space to think and share with like-minded creative people.
The days are busy: 9am–7pm on Friday and Saturday, and 9am–3pm on Sunday, but every lecture was interspaced with coffee and great food! The course leaders, Dr Midge Gillies and Dr Lucy Durneen, are approachable and knowledgeable. The course programme was varied with a range of speakers and ideas; plus, all of us students were from different backgrounds and cultures which added to the fun and learning. We were all sad to say goodbye at the end of the final weekend but a group of us are still in touch and sharing ideas.
I count myself as very lucky to have had this amazing opportunity to develop my skills and confidence. I have learnt that I am able to achieve a great deal when I step outside of my comfort zone. I have made some good friends and have benefited from space to think – a luxury in today’s world. I may even get around to my own writing soon. As for the students I teach, I am more effective at helping them to explore their own creativity and enjoy writing.
The application was made possible through the support of a number of important agencies: the bursary from First Story made the course more affordable and was very welcome, the Academy was incredibly supportive both professionally and financially, and finally my loving family were prepared to lose me for weekends and essay writing times. A big thank you to all.
What advice would I give to anyone considering this course?
- Apply now
- Make sure you book your accommodation at Madingley Hall to fully appreciate it
- Allow yourself time to enjoy and absorb everything.
Applications for an ICE bursary are open until 31st October 2019. Full details here.