Beyond Words - Cheltenham Festivals

Beyond Words
Cheltenham Festivals logo

The aims of Cheltenham Festivals’ 2014-17 Education Strategy are to unlock talent, enrich lives and illuminate career opportunities for young people in Gloucestershire and beyond. It does this through providing opportunities both at the four Festivals and also through targeted year-round programmes linked to literature, music and science.

Beyond Words is one of these year-round programmes and is funded for three years by St. James’s Place Foundation. It is designed to increase the wellbeing, confidence, and literacy levels of 14-16 year olds in Gloucestershire who are medically too unwell to attend school due to either physical or mental health needs.

In collaboration with Gloucestershire Hospital Education Service (GHES), Cheltenham Festivals invited acclaimed writer Sue Mayfield to be writer-in-residence for the project. Sue has written eight novels for young adults as well as two non-fiction books. Originally a teacher, and now a professional counsellor, Sue facilitates other people’s writing in a wide range of settings.

10 students worked face-to-face with the writer through three extended writing sessions in inspiring venues. A further cohort accessed tailor-made workshops via the GHES digital learning platform, supported 1-to-1 by GHES teachers. A one-off workshop at Gloucester Royal Hospital also enabled those students who are in hospital to work with the writer.

The students were involved throughout: they were encouraged to draw on their own life experiences in their writing; they decided which of their pieces to publish; they identified the theme and selected the art work for the front cover; they chose the chapter headings, planned the launch event and even saw the Anthology coming off the printer.

The project culminates in a showcase event at The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival in October 2016.

For further details please see teh attached Beyond Words Annual Report.

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Beyond Words Annual Report 2015.6.pdf1.75 MB
Supported using public funding by the Arts Council England