Thursday, 9 February 2017

School Visits Skills Share with Benjamin Scott and Helen Moss - Report

Helen Moss, Shelley Miller and Benjamin Scott.
On 28th January 2017, about twenty SCBWI members joined Helen Moss and Benjamin Scott at Cambridge Central Library for an insightful skills share session. Kate Wiseman attended and reports back on the day.




Many SCBWI members had travelled considerable distances to attend this half day session. The delegates covered the range of SCBWI interests from picture book writers and illustrators to YA, and from those at the pre-publication stage to the traditionally and independently published. There was also a mix of those with experience of school visits and those with none, which made for a lively and friendly session.

Helen and Benjamin split the session into three loose sections: Getting Events, Nuts and Bolts and Content and soon the nuggets of wisdom were flying (if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphor).

The Getting Events section emphasised the necessity of being brave, imaginative and proactive when contacting schools, as well as considering tying your workshop to a specific element of the National Curriculum (available online). Ideas about generating interest through our author websites, and about identifying and promoting our own unique angles and experience were very useful.  Just about everyone noted down the list of organisations arranging and promoting school visits for authors.

The Nuts and Bolts element covered everything from the nitty gritty of organising and collecting payment from schools to getting a DBS Certificate to organising and maximising book sales during school visits. Helen and Benjamin revealed some surprising secrets about themselves via the contents of their School Visit Survival Packs. You’d be amazed at how different they were!

Ruth Hatfield, Andy Shepherd, Miranda Walker, Katie Dale, Camilla Chester. Brainstorming!
The buzzword for the Content session was CHUNKING – breaking your workshop into ten-minute sections that can be swapped around or omitted altogether to suit the particular circumstances of each visit. This really got our brains working, as proven by the workshop task towards the end of the day, in which we were split into groups in order to plan the content of a brave volunteer’s school visit. These plans were then shared with the rest of the group.

Some inspiring words above the entrance of the fantastic Cambridge Central Library.

The session came to an end all too quickly, and with lots still left to say and to explore. We all agreed that future events on the same subject would be extremely useful. The day closed with Helen and Benjamin promising to arrange future workshops to take up where we left off. I’ll be clearing a space in my diary for them.

It was a useful, friendly and thoroughly enjoyable day.

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Kate Wiseman lives in Saffron Walden and writes comic adventures stories for Middle Grade readers. Her first novel, Blaggard’s School for Tomorrow’s Tyrants, is to be published by Piper Verlag in Germany in the autumn.  She has just finished the follow up and is taking a breather before starting the third Blaggard’s book.  She is represented by Madeleine Millburn.  
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A M Dassu is a member of the Words & Pictures editorial team, she manages the Events team and SCBWI BI events coverage. 
Contact her at events@britishscbwi.org if you'd like to report back on an event.
Twitter: @a_reflective


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