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Southwark College teacher wins creative writing prize

London SE1 website team

Kate Potts, who teaches English at Southwark College in The Cut, has won a London-wide creative writing competition for teachers.

Kate Potts with Andrew Motion
Kate Potts with Andrew Motion (Photo: Lucy Granville)

Poet Laureate Andrew Motion and author Julie Myerson presented the prizes to teachers who fit personal creativity around their busy schedules.

The Creative Writing Competition 2005-6 for London teachers Prize Giving was held at Booktrust's Get London Reading Café at the London Book Fair.

Dr Peter Wilson, head of English and Creative Writing at London Metropolitan University, introduced the event, explaining that the competition for teachers brought to and end 10 years of a competition for London sixth formers. Throughout its long history, the Creative Writing Competition has included writing workshops for schools and colleges run by university tutors and professional writers, master classes based at the Poetry Book Society and a host of other outreach activities.

Dr Wilson felt it fitting that the final competition should be for the teachers who are responsible for nurturing the creativity in their students which has been recognised in the competition so far. He ended by congratulating the winners and recognising the high standard of their work.

Poet Laureate and competition judge Andrew Motion described the special importance of the competition at an "interesting" time in English, as it is undergoing a period of change in order to adapt to changes in society and knowledge which make words such as ‘curriculum' and ‘canon' seem rather old fashioned.

Suggesting that the teaching of English is necessarily becoming a combination of creativity and criticism, he pointed to the Creative Writing Competition as providing necessary encouragement for teachers to see themselves as creators.

Motion presented Kate Potts, the overall winner, with her prize of 500 and a residential course at the Arvon Foundation. Kate, a GCSE English teacher at Southwark College, said that winning the prize has encouraged her to consider the ways in which her own creative writing and teaching are mutually complimentary.

"Poetry writing, with its precision and attention to detail, is excellent training for the teaching of English language and literature," said Kate. "Creative and expressive writing activities are fantastically motivational, particularly for students who find English difficult or daunting, and my personal experience of writing has given me added insight into the process and pleasure of developing an expressive voice."

Taking part in the competition revealed to Kate how many of her fellow teachers also write in their spare time: "Teaching can be extremely demanding, and finding time to write creatively while working as a teacher requires dogged determination. Winning this competition has made me feel that my efforts, in my own writing and in the classroom, are genuinely valued and supported. Booktrust has successfully raised the profile of creative writing as an integral part of education for both students and staff."

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