When I first trained to be a teacher, I had intended to teach both English and Creative Writing A-Levels, but by the time I came to have my first job, Creative Writing had been removed from the A-Level curriculum. Having had a previous career in book publishing, it didn’t quite make sense to me why the educational offer for sixth formers no longer included creative writing. There was a clear pathway to a career. The interest was also still there – students who registered for my Language and Literature class said they had chosen it for the creative writing coursework elements.
“This is fantastic work; it really does advocate for the inclusion of creative writing in English courses. I applaud the work that Angie undertakes on behalf of and with our students. She is second to none in exploring the benefits of using creative writing activities. This is going the extra mile again and one of the reasons the students achieve outstanding outcomes in English here at Haringey Sixth Form College. This additionally creates active learners and facilitates further student understanding of literary work. It is aligned with our college value of achieving excellence in everything we do, inspiring that deeper commitment to excellence; it really does motivate the students and helps with group bonding.”Russ Lawrance, Haringey Sixth Form College Principal
As a writer myself, and as a teacher who was required (and honoured) to run an enrichment programme in conjunction with my subject, I decided a little creative writing group would be ideal. I’d get to carve out some space in my busy schedule to do my own writing, and I could show some young people just how valuable, fun and empowering a command of the written language can be. I might even be able to link my previous life in publishing with my current life as a teacher.
The first year was magic, and with the support of Haringey Sixth Form College, outside partners including Nick Hayes and Andrea Marie from the Tolpolski Studio, the students formed Haringey Unchained, the seeds of a work experience-driven creative writing programme that could sit alongside the English curriculum and offer a creative outlet for any student within the college were planted.
Over time, the other creative arts started to shift and leave – music, drama, and some arts curriculum. Haringey Unchained began to grow and grow as more students saw ways to integrate the creative arts within the publication itself. Eventually, a blog turned into a magazine turned into a programme of trips in London turned into a yearly showcase of drama, dance and spoken word.
None of this would have been possible without the incredible students who came to be Haringey Unchained over the last several years. I would like to thank them for trusting me with their work and their ideas, and for their incredible bravery in constructing this publication. I have been continually humbled by their support and encouragement. The students’ poise and confidence in public has always made me the proudest teacher in London. They have been nothing but a credit to the college as they share their views, their skills and their passion for the creative arts with professionals in the cultural sector and with peers in other educational institutions.
To students old and new, as long as you still want to speak here, this platform will always be available to your voices!
With love and appreciation,
Former English Teacher and Founder of Haringey Unchained