Search

How a Dagenham teacher’s impromptu lesson led to pupils publishing their personal stories

PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 February 2020

Sam Norwood and fellow Robert Clack history teacher Katy Staten with some of the pupils who curated their own exhibition. Picture: Ellie Hoskins

Sam Norwood and fellow Robert Clack history teacher Katy Staten with some of the pupils who curated their own exhibition. Picture: Ellie Hoskins

Archant

One teacher’s impromptu idea for a history lesson has led to young people having their family stories published and shared in exhibitions.

Write Back aims to boost pupils' self-esteem and share their own stories. Picture: Sam NorwoodWrite Back aims to boost pupils' self-esteem and share their own stories. Picture: Sam Norwood

The Write Back scheme aims to boost self-esteem and confidence among young people by training them in storytelling and publishing their work.

It's run by Sam Norwood, who helps pupils identified by their schools as lacking in confidence or in need of a creative outlet.

Sam, a teacher at Robert Clack School of Science in Dagenham, explained Write Back originated after he had to come up with a lesson plan at short notice.

"The next project was going to be about migration," he said. "I took it from there.

Some of the work produced by pupils. Picture: Ellie HoskinsSome of the work produced by pupils. Picture: Ellie Hoskins

"They wrote down and spoke about their experiences."

Those young people went on to interview family members, produce stories for a book collated by English Heritage and curate their own exhibition featuring stories and objects relating to family history.

You may also want to watch:

Five years on, Sam now teaches part-time alongside running the Write Back scheme - an evolution of that project - for 13 to 16-year-olds.

Sam Norwood and fellow Robert Clack history teacher Katy Staten with some of the pupils who curated their own exhibition at Valence House. Picture: Ellie HoskinsSam Norwood and fellow Robert Clack history teacher Katy Staten with some of the pupils who curated their own exhibition at Valence House. Picture: Ellie Hoskins

He works with six schools and runs the 10 week programmes at Future Youth Zone, on the edge of Dagenham's Parsloes Park.

Pupils involved in the Write Back scheme have taken part in a variety of projects, from creating books about their personal experiences of migration or stereotypes to producing exhibitions for Valence House.

"We look to publish the work they do," Sam said, explaining how the young people involved in each project get to decide how they want their stories to be told.

"There are young people who started the project are now volunteers, leading sessions."

Write Back's ethos is that every young person has a story to tell and the capacity to tell it, and that collaborating with others is often the most powerful way to learn.

Sam explained that he received training from the Freedom Writers Foundation, a California-based organisation that supports those teaching at-risk or vulnerable young people, which has helped him to deliver the project.

For more information about Write Back, visit write-back.org

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad. Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our community has ever faced, but if we all play our part we will defeat it. We're here to serve as your advocate and trusted source of local information.

In these testing times, your support is more important than ever. Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Barking and Dagenham Post