Poetry has so much more to offer than current teaching guidelines suggest. Of course it can be an effective tool for improving reading, writing and listening skills… but it can also be an additional shared language, a way of understanding complex subjects, a source of emotional support – and even a presence in its own right.

This year, I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in a poetry project at Highfield Primary School, London. Here pupils and staff, as well as members of the wider community, have had the opportunity to be touched by poetry as it’s been infused into school life.

To get a taster of the project take a look at the trailer below, created by acapmedia:

When I saw the type of work Poet Cheryl and the school were doing I was immediately inspired. What struck me most was the ‘wholehearted’ approach to poetry. This wasn’t just about ticking boxes and satisfying curriculum requirements. It was about infusing poetry into the hearts and minds of all those at the school. Poetry was being offered as an intellectual and emotional tool that everyone could use.

I wanted to know more. So, when the opportunity came up to take on the project evaluation I jumped at the chance. Putting my own enthusiasm for poetry to one side, I resolved to conduct a rigorous qualitative analysis. The resulting research study investigated the impact of poetry as a ‘presence’ within the school across three core areas:

  • pupil written & spoken word abilities
  • pupil social & emotional wellbeing
  • and staff teaching practice.

Now, I’m delighted to report that after months of interviews, transcribing, analysis and drafting the initial evaluation is complete. You can access an overview of the findings here. Or for a copy of the full report do get in touch.

Making poetry primary: infusing poetry into primary school life