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Poetry Gives Year 8 Students A Voice On issues That Matter To Them

Year 8 students who shared their thoughts on issues that matter to them through poetry of their own. They are: Back row (l-r): Sonnie Carlin, Warren Clarke, Tegan Walters, Mrs Beeson.  Front Row: (l-r) Oliver Redgrift, Sasha Wilkinson, Jayden Hopps and Sam Sate.

English students in Year 8 have been speaking out on subjects that matter to them as part of a topic that explored the reasons why some voices are silenced.

The students ultimately discussed homelessness, male suicide, and lockdown pressures through poetry of their own and their impressive work drew praise from their teachers.

The Year 8 students began by studying poems that have not been recognised, and exploring the reasons why these works are not celebrated. This scheme of work encourages questioning, analysis, contextual investigation and nurtures a sense of ownership – that poetry is something to explore and experiment with: poetry is the language of the masses, the underdogs as well as the educated elite.  Poetry is the place to protest, reflect and wonder.

In his introduction to the anthology we are studying, author Michael Rosen writes: “In schools and colleges, collections of poetry are often put before us to study. What kind of poetry do we find in such books? Nearly always it has been poems by people who are regarded by teachers in universities as ‘great’.  But if this is the only poetry we read, a lot gets left out. Hidden from view over hundreds of years have been other kinds of poetry.”

This is the underlying idea of this scheme of work: to present some poems that have been hidden away.  Students have reflected on where and why they have been hidden and who wrote them, considering why their voices were silenced for so long. They then used one of these poems to inspire their own writing, voicing their opinions on a topic they feel strongly about. The results were very impressive.

Sam Sate (13) said: “I think it is important that men discuss their emotions. Suicide is the biggest killer of men in our country and men need to feel comfortable to explain how they are feeling and not keep things bottled up.”

Jayden Hopps (13) added: ‘I like my poem because I feel like a lot of people ignore and judge homeless people without understanding what their lives are actually like. I don’t want people to stereotype them anymore.”

Warren Clarke (13) said: “I think my poem summed up lockdown perfectly. I explained how people can’t do normal things and people have been very lonely. Lockdown should teach us that friends and family are the most important things in our lives.”

Sasha Wilkinson (13) concluded: “I chose to write about holidays because I have never been abroad before and I would love to go and 

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Louth Academy

Philip C Dickinson
BA (Hons) MA PGCE.