As a registered charity, Wells Festival of Literature is entirely run by volunteers and funded by ticket sales, competitions, and our generous local sponsors and Friends. It is thanks to this support that the Education Team can help fund educational projects in local schools throughout the year. Enjoy the highlights from our varied projects during 2023, including our exciting Year 6 event in Cedars Hall, visits from authors, illustrators and poets, prizes, theatre trips, visits to Waterstones, book vending machines, book clubs, books for libraries and so much more.
Our 2023 Events
Year 6 Event
Our Year 6 Author Event is one of the highlights of the year for local schools. This year we invited the award-winning and bestselling author M.G. Leonard to Cedars Hall. Over 3 days 876 pupils were mesmerised and inspired by her tales of beetles, owls, fairytales, trains and how reading and writing shaped her life.
We heard her read from her brand-new book The Ice Children and the children were able to ask questions before she signed hundreds of books for some very inspired and excited children. Wells Festival of Literature were able to fund both the transport and costs of M.G. Leonard’s visit and also sell over 1,500 subsidised books.
Matt Dickinson visited Fairlands Middle School, Wookey Primary School and Kings of Wessex Academy to talk about writing, filmmaking and climbing Everest. He also spent a wonderful week at St. Benedict’s Junior School in Glastonbury as their author in residence for an ‘Explorer’s Week’. Year 5 pupils were all given a copy of one of Matt’s books.
Ashcott Primary School had a visit from author Naomi and illustrator James Jones for their book week. Every child in the school was able to work with them to produce their own wonderful, bright and imaginative characters! After the event many children decided that they would become authors and illustrators when they grow up! It was a wonderful, busy day packed with inspiration.
There was a real buzz of excitement around The Blue School as Year 7 students were treated to an assembly and creative writing workshops with author Fleur Hitchcock. Fleur talked about growing up, her influences and her writing process, leading two writing workshops.
School Book Club members also got to meet Fleur in the library later to ask questions and delve deeper into all things books. As well as funding the visit, Wells Festival of Literature provided every Year 7 pupil with a free book.
Poet Rachel Piercey visited Ashcott, Butleigh, Ditcheat , Upton Noble and Bruton Primary and St Cuthbert’s Infants. The visits were arranged by the Somerset Literacy Network and funded by Wells Festival of Literature.
AF Harrold visited schools at East Harptree, Ubley, Evercreech and Lovington. Pupils loved meeting and working with the poet who had been sending them weekly poems on a postcard. We were also delighted to contribute towards poet James Carter’s visit to St John’s Infants in Glastonbury
A Day at the Theatre
Pupils from West Pennard School visited the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil to watch a play based on the book Zog by Julia Donaldson. The theatre visit will help the children to develop story writing, rhyming and character description in their Early Years written work. Shepton Mallet’s All the World’s Our Playground Festival in July is programmed and selected by young people from 7 local schools. We were pleased to fund the brilliant Jellyfish Theatre, who performed The Jungle Book to a packed audience of young children and families and also did some walk about theatre across the town. A Christmas treat for Key Stage 2 pupils at Hemington Primary School was a trip to The Egg in Bath to see Wendy: A Peter Pan Story, for which we funded the cost of transport.
In Other News!
When Kings of Wessex Academy requested help with their Year 9/10 Tutor Group Reading Scheme, Wells Festival of Literature were able to fund 150 copies of both Tasting Light and A Change is Gonna Come. The Head of English explained that these short story collections have real variety and include some great topics for tutor time discussion.
A December visit for eight pupils of Croscombe School to Waterstones in Wells had a very festive air! The children explored the book shelves of the Children’s Section to select books which they then took home. Waterstones staff and teaching staff were on hand to encourage and advise and the pupils were thrilled with their choices, and some began reading them before they left! This is one of a series of such visits funded by the Festival.
Small Schools Book Club
West Pennard School have been participating in a Small Schools Book Club for the last two years with Wells Festival of Literature providing books and organising for several local schools to meet up to discuss the books. Laura Harding, Year 6 TA, told us that their Year 6 pupils have loved being involved: reading a few chapters at a time, dissecting what’s happened, predicting what might happen next and really getting to grips with the characters. They can’t wait for the next book! Laura said a massive thank you to Wells Festival of Literature for all their generosity and support with the book club, which they would be unable to run without Wells Festival of Literature’s continued support.
Schools supported by Wells Literature Festival 2023
|Ashcott Primary School
|Hemington Primary School
|St Benedict’s Junior School, Glastonbury
|Baltonsborough Primary School
|Hindhayes Infant School
|St Cuthbert’s Infant School, Wells
|Brookside Academy, Street
|Horrington Primary School
|St John Infant School, Glastonbury
|Bruton & Upton Noble Primary Schools
|Keinton Mandeville Primary School
|St Joseph & St Teresa Primary School
|Butleigh Primary School
|Kings of Wessex Academy, Cheddar
|St Paul’s Junior School, Shepton Mallet
|Catcott Primary School
|Lovington Primary School
|St Vigor & St John Primary School, Chilcompton
|Chewton Mendip Primary School
|Mark First School
|Stoberry Park Primary School
|Coxley Primary School
|Meare Primary School
|Stoke St Michael Primary School
|Croscombe Primary School
|Norton Hill School, Midsomer Norton
|Strode College, Street
|Ditcheat Primary School
|Nunney First School
|The Blue School, Wells
|East Harptree Primary School
|Oakhill Primary School
|Walton Primary School
|Elmhurst Junior School
|Priddy Primary School
|West Pennard Primary School
|Evercreech Primary School
|Shepton Mallet Infant School
|Willowdown Primary School
|Fairlands Middle School
|St Aldhelm’s Primary School, Doulting
|Wookey Primary School
|Fosse Way School, Radstock
Welcome to our review of 2022, where we will be sharing some of the inspiring projects we have supported in local schools during the year. We have responded to suggestions from teachers and to provide access to books, authors and theatre. From virtual events to live events, competition prizes, online library subscriptions and a huge number of book donations – we have funded some amazing opportunities. Catch up with some of them …
Year 6 event
One of the highlights of the Education Team’s year is our Year 6 event, where we invite pupils to listen to an author event, meet them afterwards, and purchase subsidised books, thanks to the support of Chicken House publishers.
This year we were delighted to welcome Dan Smith who brought Cedars Hall to life with his inspiring stories and adventure tales. Over two days, Dan spoke to 25 schools and 815 children about his books, including Nisha’s War and The Crooked Oak series.
Key Stage 1 event
The brilliant Tracey Corderoy brought her magic to over 500 Key Stage 1 pupils at St Cuthbert’s Infants, St John’s in Glastonbury, Hindhayes in Street and Shepton Mallet Infants. The pupils were enthralled and every child received a copy of Shifty McGifty: Pirates Ahoy!
St John’s loved the session so much that they invited Tracey back in December to talk about her new Christmas book – and yes, all the children received a book!
World Book Day saw Maz Evans at Ashcott School and Laura Dunne at the Fosse Way School. Historian Emily Mayhew extended her visit to the Literature Festival in order to run a workshop with Year 9 students at the Blue School and she is now the first author on the school’s “Author Wall of Fame” in their new library.
Poetry, prizes and more!
- Award winning poet AF Harrold sent a weekly Poem on a Postcard to children at Evercreech and Lovington School
- We helped Wookey School install a new Libresoft online library system.
- Competition prizes went to Coxley Primary and the Blue School
- St Aldhelm’s, Doulting, and West Pennard School were each given a set of poetry books recommended by the Somerset Literacy Network.
- Whitstone Year 7 pupils joined the Bookbuzz reading programme run by the Book Trust
- Baltonsborough Primary introduced the Read, Write Inc Phonic system for Years 1 and 2
- Children from Bowlish Infant School went to see The Snow Mouse at The Egg in Bath and 30 Hemington School pupils also enjoyed the pantomime in Bath
- Our support for Make the Sunshine’s community work in Shepton Mallet continued. More than 100 students from six schools came together to create and perform 374 Ways to Change the World, followed the next day by All the World’s our Playground Festival, a magical array of theatre, dance and walkabout fun across Shepton Mallet and the grounds of St Paul’s Junior School, programmed by young people from the area.
A truly spectacular evening!
In November, 28 pupils from St Paul’s C of E VC Junior School performed Macbeth to a packed theatre in Frome. This was the culmination of many hours of hard work by both staff and pupils, from the excitement of being part of a theatre company, learning lines and backstage preparations to trying on of costumes.
The children were word perfect and clear; you could feel the buzz of confidence and pride that they had achieved something amazing in front of an audience. The Coram Shakespeare Schools Festival is a magnificent event and it is very rewarding to witness the power of performance on such young children.
Books for classes & clubs
We donated over 1,300 books to children and schools in 2022.
There were gifts of non-fiction books to St Benedict’s, Glastonbury; class books to Butleigh School and the Fosse Way School; book club books to the Blue School; 140 books to Whitstone School; poetry anthologies to West Pennard and St Aldhelm’s; and pupils attending Michael Morpurgo’s event at the Literature Festival had the excitement of taking a book home.
“The children are over the moon with their new books. Your generosity has given us a new range of diverse non-fiction books.”St Benedict’s Junior School
Evidence shows that reading for pleasure plays an important role in developing a child’s confidence and self-esteem and boosts academic achievement. That is why we support Coram Beanstalk, a reading charity that trains and supports volunteers to work one-to-one with reluctant readers or children who have fallen behind with their reading. In 2022 we funded support for 18 children in 5 local schools.
And for older students…
We also funded four speakers for Strode College’s English & Creative Writing Degree faculty.
Throughout 2021, we have supported inspiring projects, creative activities and a love of literature for
local schools in our community. By adapting our approach to work around the many uncertainties
that have faced education, we have been able to fund a wealth of ideas from virtual events and live
streaming to live theatre, competition prizes and book vending machines! Catch up on all of our
latest news and events…
One of the highlights of the Education Team’s year is our years 5 & 6 event, where we invite local
schools to listen to and meet an author, with the opportunity to purchase subsidised books, thanks to
the support of Chicken House publishers and Wells Festival of Literature. We were absolutely thrilled
that we could hold the event this year both live and online, reaching as many local schools as possible.
The amazing Lucy Strange was our guest author this year, going above and beyond to inspire the
children and bringing her books to life. Between them, the children bought over 1600 copies of Lucy’s
books, Sisters of The Lost Marsh, The Ghost of Gosswater, Our Castle by the Sea and The Secret of
Throughout 2020, in spite of the uncertainty facing schools, we were delighted to be able to help and support our local schools during the problematic times and despite the many challenges faced. It was a busy year for the education team!
At a time when books have provided escape, magic, comfort and inspiration, we were able to find new and exciting opportunities to support schools and colleges, from reading sheds and library books to poems by post and virtual author events. We have been working closely with authors and publishers to provide children with access to books, as well as with opportunities to read and to inspire their imaginations.
“It is amazing to hear about how many different schools you have supported over the past year despite the difficulties everyone has faced. It’s interesting to read about the different initiatives and the new ways of encouraging reading across the area. Thank you for all of your support and we look forward to seeing you soon!”
Richard Briar, Head Teacher Ashcott Primary.
In 2019 we aim to provide another full programme of projects which schools are unable to fund themselves. And of course we will continue to support our regular projects such as the Small Schools Book Clubs, the Plays in the Playground Initiative and Poems by Post.
Other initiatives already arranged this year include a visit from performance poet Hollie McNish, and a schools workshop with author Emma Carroll. We are also collaborating with the Somerset Literacy Network and are sponsoring performance poet and educator Josh Seigal who will be working in 24 schools later in the year.
Finally (for the time being) we are delighted to announce that the speaker at our special Year Six event, which happens every year during Festival week, will be Maz Evans, author of Waterstone’s Children’s Book of the Month last year – Who Let the Gods Out?
2018 saw the Wells Festival of Literature continue to encourage a love of literature by helping to fund many more education initiatives across all age ranges including, amongst many others:
A Poetry by Post project with poet AF Harrold (the recipient school received a specially written poem on a postcard each week through the term, together with a visit from the poet).
Tony Walsh spent time with local schools in October, and Inja visited Fosse Way School and the Mendip School.
We arranged a visit from the team responsible for Channel 4’s The Secret Life of Four Year Olds for Psychology and Media students, and an event with Andrew Motion for Lower Sixth and Gifted & Talented children, as well as a literature event with Professor John Mullan for Sixth Formers from eight Somerset schools.
A week of workshops in Primary schools with author Ross Montgomery
The purchase of 37 set books (Much Ado about Nothing) at St Dunstan’s School and 20 copies of A Monster Calls as part of the Exeter University Grammar for Writing project.
2017 was a very busy year for the Education team, working with schools and colleges to help fund literature and literacy projects for all age groups.
Tony Walsh, the poet made famous when he read This is the Place at the vigil after the Manchester bombing, stayed in Wells for two weeks while he worked with pupils from 21 schools around Wells, Shepton Mallet, Cheddar, Glastonbury and Street. Other poetry events included: Inja, poet and rapper, worked with English and Media students at Strode College and spent a day at Fosse Way School, Radstock, working with autistic children through the school. Poet AF Harrold spent a day with pupils at Ashcott School.
WFL arranged author visits to several local schools including Joffre White to Croscombe Primary, Steve Voake to West Pennard School and Marie Louise Jensen to St Dunstan’s Secondary School, Glastonbury Similar workshops and projects have been arranged with storytellers, poets and actors: Annie Fisher and Anne Harvey spent a day at Shepton Mallet Infants School; the Two Steves ran writing workshops at St Benedict’s School, Glastonbury; Chris Connaughton, actor and storyteller, worked with all the pupils at Baltonsborough School.
WFL buys books too – in one case so that children from Whitstone School, Shepton Mallet, were able to take part in the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards shadowing project. And in another case we purchased 210 books for a new transition project at Crispin School, Street, so that Year 6 pupils could work on the same book during their last term at Primary School and in their first term at Secondary School. We provided books for able readers in five small schools so that they could meet on a termly basis at a book club event. We also supplied Wookey School with books to start a school Book Club for higher ability children. And Coxley School’s Short Story Competition awarded prizes funded by the Literature Festival – all part of our on-going commitment to literacy.
We funded St Paul’s School, Shepton Mallet, to enrol with the Shakespeare Schools Festival, staging an abridged version of Romeo and Juliet at the Merlin Theatre, Frome. We also supported a Community event, including poetry workshops and theatre performances for families at the Bishop’s Barn, Wells. With the Theatre Royal (Bath) and with input from Mendip District Council, we funded Plays in the Playground – an ongoing initiative to bring theatre to school children, and their families, in Shepton Mallet. Throughout the year, Higher Beings, Paddleboat and Squashbox visited Bowlish Infants, St Paul’s, and Shepton Mallet Infants, performing for both children and parents and interacting with families in the playground. The Festival paid for transport so that Hemington School pupils could attend a performance at The Egg Theatre in Bath.
Nearly 320 Year 6 children from 11 schools attended talks by author Ross Montgomery in Wells, and 300 children plus staff came to his talks in Glastonbury. Every child was given the chance to buy a book for £3 (subsidised by WFL). 500 books were sold, and teachers expressed their appreciation that children who had never shown any interest in reading were queuing excitedly to buy a book.
St Cuthbert’s (Wells), St Paul’s (Shepton Mallet), Nunney First, Coxley School, Hemington Primary, Hindhayes Infants (Street), and Shepton Mallet Infants were all funded with Reading Helpers from the literacy charity Beanstalk, an ongoing project, supported by WFL. Helpers are each allocated three children in a school, and by working with them individually twice a week for a year they give children who may have fallen far behind the confidence to work at and enjoy their reading
Much of our original education work was traditionally focused on projects with primary schools, but as our involvement grows, we find we are increasingly working with secondary school students and older.
Our 2016 projects with primary aged children included:
- Our traditional festival event for Year 6 pupils grew: during the 2016 Festival Piers Torday spoke at two events
- Glastonbury Small Schools Book Club for five schools
- Reading workshops at Butleigh School led by author Joffre White
- Creative writing sessions at Wookey School, led by Joffre White
- Writing workshops for local Junior Schools led by Actiontrak and culminating in performances at Wookey Hole Cave
- Award of prizes for story writing competition at Coxley School
- Partnership with Shakespeare Schools Festival in their work with Horrington School culminating in a performance at The Egg, Bath
- Contribution to printing costs of pupils’ stories based on local history
- Workshop led by Piers Torday at Ashcott School
Our 2016 projects with older students
Many events in our Festival programme have attracted a number of students to the Festival. With topics such as literature, politics, science, poetry and history being covered by some of the leading experts in the country, our speakers continue to offer inspirational new insights to ambitious students.
In addition, projects instigated and funded by WFL in 2016 included:
- Seminars led by author Emma Craigie for students at Strode College, discussing novelists’ research methods and the use of the media.
- Shakespearean drama workshops at St Dunstan’s School
- Writing workshops for senior students with author Alison Rattle
- Partnership with Shakespeare Schools Festival in their work with Sexeys School leading to a performance at Merlin Theatre, Frome