3 February 2015 15:24

A Lancaster University initiative has helped to shape the English syllabus of four North West schools.

Four secondary schools in the North West have expanded their English syllabuses to include Manchester-based poets SuAndi and Shamshad Khan, as a result of a project led by Lynne Pearce, a professor in the Department of English and Creative Writing.

The main aim of the ‘North West Writers into Schools’ project is to seek recognition for the region’s authors, particularly black and Asian writers, within the canon of contemporary literature.

Working with Commonword, a writing development organisation, Lancaster academics have taken the first step towards achieving this goal.

Students from Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School, Chorlton High School and two Manchester-based schools, Trinity Church of England and Abraham Moss, are exploring issues of identity, place and writing in the poetry of SuAndi and Shamshad Khan.

Professor Lynne Pearce, the director of the project, said: “It’s great that only 14 months after I wrote a blog lamenting the lack of North West authors on the region’s school syllabuses we have already started to put things right. 

“The participating schools have been extremely enthusiastic and, given that several of the year-groups involved number over 300 students, the poetry of SuAndi and Shamshad Khan will hopefully inspire a great many young pupils. 

“One of our Research Assistants, Helen Davies, is now looking into the possibility of rounding-off the initiative with an inter-schools poetry competition which will bring the ‘winning’ students from each school to Lancaster University to perform their work in front of Shamshad and SuAndi.”

The initiative was born out of a Lancaster University research project called ‘Moving Manchester’, which highlighted the fact that writers from Manchester’s ethnic communities who have received national and international recognition for their work are not represented on the UK’s school and university syllabuses to the same extent as their London-based counterparts.

The schools have committed to teaching this new syllabus for at least three years, with teachers using course materials produced by Dr Sarah Ilott, a Research Assistant, to introduce and contextualise the work of the writers.

More information about the ‘North West Writers into Schools’ project is available here.