We are often asked what makes creative writing (or any other supposedly ‘academic’ subject) any different from school classes when taken as an extracurricular activity. Indeed, there are plenty of extra learning activities out there which precisely recreate the classroom environment outside of school to optimise learning. We, however, are keen to create a sense of separation between school and CYW. First and foremost, we are a club – not a lesson! Perhaps one of the most notable results of CYW is some of the lasting friendships that the children make, a testament to the fact that they come to have fun and socialise as well as to write.
Not only does the club environment allow children to bond with their peers over writing, but it alters the relationship they have with their course leader. We keep our group sizes small for this very reason; in the club, rather than the classroom environment, each child has the chance to create a relationship with their course leader which is closer to mentorship than conventional teaching. Rather than learning coming from teacher to pupil, as is often inevitable in large class sizes, small group sizes allow learning to be a dialogue between the young writers and their course leader. Each child’s wants and wishes are taken into account, making the sessions a space in which children can stretch their wings and write stories because they want to – not because they’ve been told to.
Libby Norman is a practicing writer and performance artist based in London and the South West of England, making work within live art and experimental writing scenes. Having first started working with Chelsea Young Writers as a Teaching Assistant and now behind the scenes within Social Media and Digital Outreach, she understands how CYW operates from the ground up, and loves writing content specifically tailored to our wonderful community of young writers and their parents/guardians. Libby holds a First Class Honours degree in Performance Arts from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and is currently studying for a Masters degree in Poetic Practice at Royal Holloway.