160 primary school pupils from across Blackpool were treated to a special visit from author of the Jamie Johnson series Dan Freedman, who inspired pupils with an insight in to his life as an author.
Working in partnership with the National Literacy Trust and the Premier League Charitable Fund, Blackpool FC Community Trust were able to bring Dan to Blackpool as part of the Premier League Primary Stars programme.
Primary Stars aims to boost and improve pupils attainment within P.E, PSHE, English and Maths through the power of football and sport, as well as providing free teaching resources to all primary school teachers in England in these four subjects. The Community Trust offer this to all Blackpool and Fylde primary schools.
Earlier this year the Community Trust, with the help of Dan, set all year 4,5 and 6 pupils in Blackpool a writing challenge; to write a story about their passion with a limit of 366 words.
Over 560 primary pupils entered, providing the Community Trust a variety of stories ranging from stories about unicorns to forgetful teachers to talking toilets.
10 winners were chosen based on their ability to write creatively whilst using powerful verbs, metaphors and connectives. These pupils were VIP guests to the event and had the opportunity to read their stories to Dan.
Chris Debar, the Senior Physical Education Officer within the Community Trust said “We had such an amazing response to our writing challenge. It’s the first time we’ve ever arranged a competition like this and to receive so many entries shows the strong working relationship we have in our local primary schools. The stories were a pleasure to read and picking the 10 winners was a tough decision”.
After listening to the pupils read out their stories, Dan was left impressed. “The quality of the writing was nothing short of phenomenal. The pupils are well ahead of where I was at their age and I have genuine hopes that one or two of them could go on to be published authors themselves in the future.
It was a remarkable end to an incredible day which I’ll remember for a very long time to come”.
Dan was so impressed with the quality of the winning stories that he has decided to publish two of them on his personal website.
During the event Dan delivered an interactive assembly to 150 pupils, speaking about his passion for football, how he became an author and answering various questions from the attending pupils. These pupils in attendance were fortunate enough to be given a free copy of Dan’s book ‘Born to Play’, which went down extremely well with the pupils.
Laura, from Saint Cuthbert’s Catholic Academy, won a signed Nike football for asking the most interesting question. When thinking about the experience she had, Laura said, ”The assembly with Dan was really inspiring and it made me believe that my dream of being an author can be accomplished. The blurb of ‘Born to Play’ really hooked me in to reading the book and I can’t wait to get started.”
Daniel, also a pupil from Saint Cuthbert’s Catholic Academy was also inspired to read as a result of attending the event. “I had a fun time meeting Dan and enjoyed the day. I’m looking forward to reading my new book. Thank you Dan for giving it to me”.
There is still an opportunity for pupils to enter a different writing competition through the Primary Stars programme. ‘Writing Stars’ is a national competition that gives pupils the opportunity to write a poem based on the theme of resilience and inspired by the poem ‘Try, Try Again’, as advertised in the Premier League Primary Stars TV advert. To find out how to enter parents and schools can go to www.plprimarystars.com/competitions/writing-stars .