‘I have a massive affection for Jersey’ – children’s poet

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A BURNLEY-BASED children’s poet says he feels that he has been ‘adopted’ by the Channel Islands after performing classes in Island schools which aim to inspire confidence and improve the literacy skills of pupils.

UK children’s poet and author Ian Bland travels across Britain visiting 100 primary schools each year teaching children how to write and perform poetry.

During the past seven years, Mr Bland has delivered workshops in around 80% of the Island’s primary schools.

In his latest visit, he delivered poetry workshops to St Lawrence, Bel Royal, Trinity and Mont Nicolle.

Mr Bland said: ‘After a fear of heights, people’s biggest fear is generally public speaking.

‘My goal is to inspire children of primary-school age to write, edit and perform poetry, improve their literary skills, public-speaking skills and be able to perform in front of peers.’

This year, Mr Bland has branched out and worked in Sark, Alderney and Guernsey primary schools.

He said: ‘The Channel Islands have kind of adopted me. The schools over here have embraced the workshops.

‘I have a massive affection for Jersey; the people have been so welcoming here. Over the years, on social media, I’ve had parents contacting saying their children have gone to bed, reading their poetry.

‘And when the kids go out to play at break and they perform their poetry with their friends, that’s when I know the workshops have had an impact.’

A typical teaching day for Mr Bland involves a morning performance of poetry, which aims to ‘inspire children’ through his enthusiasm and audience participation. He then leads age-appropriate workshops helping children to write and perform their own poems.

Before becoming a children’s poet, Mr Bland was a primary-school teacher, which he says helped him to ‘understand the world of primary schools’.

‘I understand teachers – I used to be one. I know what they want from a session. Children are obsessed with their teachers; they are a big part of their life.

‘Imagine a child in Reception class. Their teacher is a massive part of their life, you are their world,’ he added.

As well as leading classroom activities, Mr Bland provides after-school sessions, giving staff techniques and tips for teaching poetry.

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