TESTIMONIALS FROM TEACHERS
At Inspire to Write, we like to publish testimonials from teaching staff with whom we have worked. We appreciate the time that busy staff take to compose and send these to us
Year 4 teacher
Brandlehow Primary School, Putney
David's workshop was utterly inspiring. The high quality acting he enabled our children to produce led to some beautiful writing. Not only were the children inspired but so were all of the adults who were lucky enough to attend. Seeing David's methods, theories and demeanor made for great CPD and left us wanting to change the plan for our writing for the rest of the term. David has a magical way of drawing children in and getting them to learn through experience.
Kings Road Primary School
The children of Kings Road Primary school had the wonderful experience of Dave Mason in February 2016. It was enlightening to receive input that was free of the restrictions of a tight curriculum and the pressures of end of Key Stage expectations whilst still whole-heartedly fulfilling them. The children enjoyed how Dave’s child-friendly delivery expertly revealed the creativity of his books whilst enthusing the children to become writers themselves. I would recommend Dave, his books and his warmth to anyone.
For the past 15 years David has been a regular visitor to the island. At Queen's College, an international school following the New National Curriculum, David has been "adopted" as our creative writing partner. His yearly visits are eagerly awaited by the whole primary department. Working alongside the staff David blends drama with writing tips to stimulate story writing. He asks the children to act out a situation so that they can more easily relate to it. Recent starting points have been closely and successfully linked to topics in history as well as circle time themes as well as work on describing a scene by "living it".
David has an excellent knowledge of the curriculum objectives but is able to teach them in a more vibrant and exciting way. The quality of the subsequent writing reflects the children's focus, on their senses and on a heightened understanding of how literary techniques may be used in a more meaningful manner.
The students at Queen's admire David's informal but practical style of teaching. They know that they will be able to try out and remember some of his techniques. The fact that he is a writer and he signs the books they are eager to purchase is exciting for them, it makes the whole experience more personal and special. His recitals never cease to make the children laugh, contemplate life or ask for more! The children have plenty of time to ask questions about his inspirations, what makes him "tick" as well as inside information about his travels, work and family ( many feel that after so many years he is their friend! )
On several occasions David has taken part in staff discussions about English teaching where our conclusions are usually an agreement that we should not take the creativity out of the curriculum but put in an extra dose for good measure!
Abbotsbury Primary School, Morden
London Borough of Merton
Writer in Residence 2015-present
At Abbotsbury Primary school, we wanted to raise our attainment in writing and decided to start by improving our children’s vocabulary
David was recommended to us and we are now into our third year of him working with our children and staff as our writer in residence. The children always look forward to his visits, as they enjoy his sessions so much and can see for themselves the improvement in their writing after his input.
Through drama, the children learn how to describe scenes, feelings, actions and emotions, using high quality vocabulary. The movement is slowed down to give them time to listen to David’s narration or build a narration of their own. This type of work is accessible to all abilities and behaviours, transcending differences between children. The children have immediately been able to transfer this piece of work into their books, using the same or similar vocabulary to liven and improve their work. They love and are very proud of the results.
The staff are very enthusiastic about David coming in as it refreshes their own practice and enables them to see the impact that he has on the children’s writing. Improving writing does not happen overnight and we are constantly working with David to produce bespoke work for our children and INSET for our staff, so each time that he comes there is a slightly different emphasis to move us on to the next steps.
While asking our children about how we could improve writing in school, one child wrote, ‘more Mr Mason’. Out of the mouths of babes…
Assistant Head Teacher
Castle Hill Primary School
David engages and motivates children with his drama. He immerses the children into characters and takes them away into their imagination… the impact of this experience is clear in the pupils writing
Several parents, pupils and teachers have approached me to give me feedback on the two days that David spent with us.
‘I really enjoyed that Miss, is he going to come again?’ Y5 pupil.
‘Come and look at my writing I did after the drama!’ Y6 pupil.
‘It was really fun doing the drama, it gave me better ideas of what to write, about World War 1 and I learnt what ‘shell shocked’ meant.’ Y6 pupil.
‘David’s work with the children, really inspired me to give more time over to drama in my lessons. The children were engaged and really ‘buzzing’ with enthusiasm. It helped me to see how drama can lead to a really good piece of purposeful writing and strategies that I can build on.’ Y6 Teacher.
‘My son was telling me all about the drama man. My son had to imagine he was the sergeant, in the trenches and he thoroughly enjoyed it.’ Parent of Y6 pupil.
‘I’ve not seen this class work this well together, before.’ Y5 teacher
‘The poetry performance was excellent!’ Y4 teacher.
Poole Grammar School
Writer in Residence 2010-present
David works with great physicality and intensity to communicate his passion for writing in order to inspire the boys. He is very approachable and engaging but demands excellence from students. His impact remains long after the sessions have finished. Older students will chat to him on his return visits about how much they enjoyed and valued his sessions and how useful they found them in developing their writing skills. From my perspective as Literacy Advisor, I very much value his work with the pupils as it enriches their experience of English outside the normal boundaries of the curriculum. To watch classes of Key Stage 3 boys totally absorbed in thought and creation during the writing process is a sight to behold and, unsurprisingly but very pleasingly, the outcomes reflect this.
If you want to improve your students' writing standard through an inspirational teaching experience then I would unreservedly recommend David Mason.
This summer he was in school working with the students during our Ofsted Inspection and the sessions were observed very positively three times over the two days. Ofsted stated in the report that ".....visits by, for example, a poet, all help to develop students’ reading and writing skills." (Ofsted 2014). The inspectors commented verbally on how pleasing it was that his performance work with the boys resulted in them producing mature, creative written work. They were particularly pleased that there was a tangible end product.
Louise Austin, Headteacher
Dorchester Primary School, Sutton, Greater London
We have just finished four days of drama and writing across Key Stage 2 with David Mason, poet and writer.
The drama involved creativity, intense concentration and commitment from all the pupils. It was amazing (all the children participated including EAL, SEN etc).
The drama then stimulated some incredible writing from all the children mainly because they had felt and heard the words through the drama before putting pen to paper.
At the staff meeting led by David, looking at the books, the quality of descriptive language, composition and effect was at least a sub level higher than the week before.
Sometimes it’s worth spending some money to allow the staff to see an expert at work.
The children were enthralled by his poetry performances as well as what they had been capable of writing.
Ofsted says in “Moving English Forward 2012” page 15: “Teachers should be encouraged to be creative and adventurous in their teaching and (page 7) ensure the preparation for national test is appropriate, does not begin too early and does not limit the range of the curriculum or pupils’ opportunities for creativity in English”.
Take a risk!
Pete Talbot, Headteacher
Castle Hill Community Primary School, Folkestone, Kent
I have known David Mason for the past ten years. David has been leading Drama and Writing / Poetry sessions on an annual basis in the two schools that I have been Headteacher, in London and Folkestone. Both these schools have been in very challenging circumstances. He seems prepared to travel almost anywhere!
Most recently he has just been in my school for a four day period working in classes from Nursery to Year 6. As well as being a prolific author David has developed an excellent teaching style with the children. He is able to motivate and inspire them to produce some of their best writing and does this in his own unique style! He has a real passion for teaching creative writing and I am always happy to have him working with any of my classes.
David is someone who is not afraid to get really involved and is well used to leading the teaching of creative writing. He is extremely capable when dealing with reluctant workers and has been able to motivate some very difficult pupils. All teachers who have worked alongside him talk very highly of the work that he has done, and he has been able to inspire some of my more cynical members of staff. Many aspects of the work that he has done in the classroom has been carried on by the class teachers and he has supported them with this.
Through Drama, creativity and sharing of his own work David has been able to get children writing. He will identify the child who needs support very quickly, and is able to encourage them with an easy and supportive manner. I would have no hesitation asking David to take any class, or group of pupils in either of the schools in which I have been Headteacher.
Encouraging reluctant pupils to write is very challenging and I feel David has had a real impact in this area. His work in upper Key Stage 2 has had real impact through the school; his input has certainly helped in our drive to raise standards. He has a unique way of working that staff and children find refreshing along with a clear passion and enthusiasm for what he does.
I would recommend David to work in any school, or with any groups of children.
Irene Leeves, Co-Headteacher
Cranmer Primary School, Mitcham, London
David Mason is to be highly recommended! During my past twelve years of headship David has been inspiring children in both my current and my previous school. He is like a breath of fresh air as he takes both reading and writing sessions - motivating and inspiring the children!! He instills a love of literacy - a love of reading and writing!
David reaches children of all ages - and enables them to unlock their imaginations, often through drama, and then they go on to produce outstanding pieces of writing. He teaches them the skills of drawing in their readers through their writing. Most importantly, he makes children believe in themselves as writers. The standard of children's written work after a session with David is phenomenal. His input has contributed to our wonderful literacy SAT results within KS1 and KS2.
Recently David has focused on inspiring children to read and become regular readers - he ran a session for parents on reading with their child at home which was extremely enjoyable, entertaining, but most importantly reinforced the importance and value of reading. In particular he relates so well to the boys and is a wonderful role model for them
David's passion for and love of reading and of stories fires children's imaginations. They cannot wait to put pen to paper following their sessions with him - reaching their highest standards. David performances are breathtaking and awe inspiring - he reads his poetry, sings and engages the children with his wonderful sense of humour. I cannot recommend him highly enough!! Book him now - you won't regret it!!
Professor David Burnett, Deputy Headteacher
Westcliff High School for Boys, Essex 2011
Westcliff High School for Boys is a selective boys’ grammar school in Southend, Essex, with a student body of 1020. On four occasions it has been rated “Outstandingly successful” by Ofsted with the extra-curricular life of the School singled out for praise. The School’s specialism is Humanities and this has been the spur to find a writer-in-residence who could visit the School regularly and work with students and teachers on drama, poetry and prose. We also wished to offer the services of a writer-in-residence to six partner schools; three primary; two special schools; and one secondary. In that way we hoped to extend the School’s extra-curricular life still further, help our own students with their studies and bring a new and exciting dimension to our work with partners.
David Mason has inspired our students. On his first visit he held the attention of our entire Year 7 and Year 8 cohorts for around 90 minutes with his clever poems and dramatic performances. They were excited by words and the images he conjured in their heads. Working with small groups of 20 students thereafter, from Years 7, 8 and 11, he crafted a workshop experience which drew young people out of their comfort zone and the routine of classroom work and into the world of being a writer. Partner schools have had exactly the same experience. They all want to have David Mason back as soon as possible.
The impact on our students has been obvious. You know you are on to a winner when around 40 Year 11 students are not going out at break time but staying with David Mason to finish their poems and asking, like modern-day Oliver Twists, “please sir, can we have some more?” The answer had to be “yes” and we brought David Mason back for workshops we had not originally planned. Inspired by the experiences we have had teachers and students, including partner primary schools’ students, writing and performing poetry for a packed hall of friends and family. The best thing is that we have only just begun and the future looks to be even more exciting.
Laude The Lady Elizabeth School,
Years 2 to 6 in the LAUDE Lady Elizabeth Junior School thoroughly enjoyed a visit from the Poet and Author, David Mason, recently. David said that he would be 'performing' some of his poetry - and perform he did! His energy, enthusiasm and sheer ability to relate to his audience, whatever their age, was a wonder to behold. He inspired the children, had them spellbound, laughing, clapping and cheering in turn. He also drew from them some wonderful interpretive drama of their own. He had an extended session with Year 6, in which he followed his performance poetry with drama and a creative writing workshop, which will surely inspire their future work. David also brought with him copies of his poetry and story books, which the children clamoured to buy signed copies of at the end of the day. 'A fantastic day' was the general opinion from both children and staff.