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On Tuesday 30th January, Year 5 children from across Rivers Academy joined together for a spy/detective inspired Writing Workshop aptly named ‘Cloak and Dagger’. Year 5 children from Great Witley, Northwick, Cranham and St Clements joined with Heronswood to spend the morning discussing ideas, creating characters and then writing and editing their own work.

The morning began with the children from each school getting to know each other; sharing their name and an interesting fact about themselves. We then rearranged the room so that each child was sitting next to a ‘new’ writing buddy from across the Academy. At first everyone was a little nervous, but by the end of the morning, everyone had made many new friends.
Characteristics were collected about famous spies/detectives using visual literacy. Everyone loved watching Alex Rider, tearing through the streets at breakneck speed – following the van that contained his uncle’s property. A clip of James Bond was analysed too to elicit further character traits.
We then explored a list of characteristics/ traits that most fictional detectives/ spies adhere too. These were mirrored by those initially (and very cleverly) suggested by the enthusiastic and eager group of writers.
Next, everyone created their own character. Eccentricities and quirks were created as well as a ballast for their character. Children chose to work individually or with a partner from another school. It was astutely noted by the children that there is a gender bias leaning to males in the fictional detective/spies genre – so they created female characters to interest their reader.
We then discussed how Conan Doyle cleverly introduced Holmes in one of his famous stories. Mrs Kingston then led a shared write, where everyone collaborated to create the opening paragraph of a story – which introduced the detective/spy to the reader. The aim was to immediately hook the reader in!
An excited buzz ran through the classroom as everyone eagerly put pen to paper! Fascinating characters were brought to life and an amazing standard of writing was clearly seen. Children shared their character introductions to test the effectiveness of their vocabulary choices and sentence structure on the reader. Mrs Kingston (English Lead at Heronswood) commented on what a pleasure it was to work with such a talented group of writers; how engaged every writer was. Children even requested to write through their lunch and stay for the afternoon!
Before departing back to their individual schools, children then enjoyed a Heronswood lunch and tour of the school from the Year Six learning ambassadors.
Feedback from both the children and staff was very positive. One school said, ‘Thank you for running the workshop. Our children have been totally inspired to write!’ One child enjoyed the workshop so much, they asked when the next one was, and could Mrs Kingston plan a Reading Worksop for next term.’

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