Author Masterclass: Successful primary school visits with Jane Clarke

Jane Clarke has been an archaeologist, a teacher, and a library assistant, but is now a full time children’s writer with over seventy published books and hundreds of poems in children's anthologies. Her picture books include the award-winning Gilbert the Great series, Stuck in the Mud, and Knight Time. She writes for reading schemes and ghost writes for several series for the Key Stage 2 age group with Working Partners, Random House and OUP. 

Jane does around 30 author visits to nursery and primary schools a year and counts them as an important part of her income as a writer.

Alison Smith caught up with Jane in advance of her upcoming London Masterclass Workshop on Successful Primary School Visits on 13 September 2014 to find out more.

When did you start doing author visits to primary schools? 

When my first book was published (2001), I was a library assistant at Antwerp International School – so I invited myself into different classes in the Elementary School and tried out talks and writing workshops with different age groups.

How did you go about getting school visits when you returned to the UK? 

By then, I had five books published and felt confident enough to introduce myself to my local primary school as a writer. I went in once a week to listen to children read, and did some unpaid creative writing workshops for them. This gave me UK references and local school contacts. A local independent bookshop was helpful in passing on my details, and I also joined Contact an Author.

What do you like about school visits? 

It's a joy to work with imaginative and creative children, and inspire them to write and/or draw their own stories and poems. My primary purpose for doing the visits is for income rather than to promote my books, but I often use one of my books as the focus of a workshop and promote them in that way. My agent is convinced the visits help book sales – and they keep me in touch with my target audience, too.

So who is your Masterclass aimed at?

Anyone who writes and illustrates for the under 11s and who is making - or thinking of making - visits to schools.

And what will you be covering? 

I’ll be sharing hints and tips about getting, organising and accomplishing fun and inspiring school visits. The practical session in the afternoon will focus on sharing writing workshop/ fun creative activities that can be used to inspire and enthuse specific ages/year/Key Stage groups (from nursery through to Year 6).

Anything people need to do in advance? 

Please come prepared to share a workshop or creative activity - and/or a book you'd like to make the focus of a workshop.

For more information about Jane and her work visit

Masterclass details:

Successful Primary School Visits 
When: Saturday 13 September 2014 – 12 noon – 4pm
Where: The Theodore Bullfrog Pub, First floor meeting room, 26-30 John Adam Street, London, WC2N 6HL
Cost: £30 per class for SCBWI members, £37 for non members. (Prices include a pre-ordered light lunch and a beverage.)
More information: 

Alison Smith works as a freelance PR and communications professional for part of her week. For the rest of it she is to be found clamped to her computer trying to find a home for her middle grade historical novel and getting down the first draft of a new canine caper set in Victorian London. She has just managed to break her publishing duck with the acceptance of a short story by The Caterpillar Magazine and hopes this will help her brave the slings and arrows of future rejections.


  1. Really interesting post thank you

  2. I strongly recommend this class - Jane came to our local library to give a session and both the children and their parents were buzzing with delight as they left. They were still talking about it weeks later.

  3. I went to a workshop Jane ran at the SCBWI conference a couple of years ago. It was brilliant so I'm really looking forward to her masterclass!

  4. I'm convinced, I'm coming. Thanks Alison and Jane:)

    1. Oooh and Linda and Liz for your recommendations too!


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