Sedgeford author aims to inspire pupils with new textbooks

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Norfolk past and present features strongly in a best-selling educational series – thanks to Sedgeford author and performer Gareth Calway.

He is the series editor and contributing author of the Key Stage 3 English textbooks Aiming for Progress in Writing and Grammar, and Aiming for Progress in Reading.

They are being published this month by Collins and are books which will help pupils in classrooms throughout the country.

Calway (pictured) says his aim is to inspire children to want to learn reading and writing skills.

He said: “My contributions include spreads on Norfolk tourism v farming (teaching analysis) and Boudicca (teaching summary skills). I think every schoolchild in Icenia (Norfolk, Suffolk, parts of Cambs) – every British child actually but from this region doubly so – should learn about her inspiring defiance of injustice, insult and invasion. It’s a birthright. But it’s not on the curriculum. Now it’s in a book that will be in classrooms all over Britain.

“The analysis spread on tourism and farming teaches how to argue but it uses Norfolk issues, stats and passions. This is part of my remit at Room at the Gin productions – telling Norfolk stories.

“Other personal contributions include a comparison of tabloid and broadsheet newspaper articles about ‘selfie harming’ and Malala (the Afghan girl shot for wanting an education). up to date spreads on football, folk ballads like Sir Patrick Spens and The Rime of The Ancient Mariner, the Hobbit movie, the blues, Usain Bolt, Oliver Cromwell, the Atlantic slave trade, new readings of Richard III since they found his bones, bees, Frankenstein’s monster, social messaging and blogs…

“I also contributed some excerpts from my own published books – Bound for Jamaica, Beat Music (about the Beatles) and Cromwell’s Talking Head.

“My journalist daughter Emma contributed a feature from her published blog on the Apprentice. (Handbags at Dawn)

“I was series editor of both editions and my principle remains: to use inspiring texts about issues that matter and give students tasks that tick all the numerous boxes required by the (umpteenth rewrite of the) curriculum so that teachers have the freedom to teach, and the security of knowing they’ve got it covered.

“The approach in the series is what I call the Narnia model – take students away via great texts (Orwell, Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Dickens, Shakespeare, UA Fanthorpe, Tennyson, Sue Townshend, Chaucer) to a magical level to face their demons, beat the demons there, then bring them back to the real world to apply what they’ve learned.

“Or to put that another way- make them want to learn reading and writing skills because it gives them access to these wonderful experiences, not to share our perspective and expect them to grind through literacy drills for their own sake.

“Or in the words of a recent parent at one of my shows – Inspire them.”

n Gareth Calway will be telling Boudicca’s story on his spring tour in April – Wild (Norfolk) Women – and will be giving a junior version to Lynn schoolchildren later this month.