School Visits - Assemblies / Workshops

Prize-winning poet James Carter is a popular and regular visitor to Primary schools all over the UK and abroad - where he gives poetry (with music) performances and workshops. In the last two decades he has visited 1500+ Primary/Prep/Infant/Junior schools all over the UK and abroad and conducted 100s of sessions with UK/International schools online.

To bring a big poetry buzz into school - to generate heaps of enthusiasm for reading, writing and performing - and to inspire teachers as well as children, James offers this schedule James offers this schedule -

ASSEMBLIES for different key stages - KS2 / KS1 & EYFS- poetry and music performances - 25 mins each; though if a Junior school, will do whole school at once; if an Infant (or Pre-Prep) school, will do KS1 and Reception/EY as separate assemblies.

For Key Stage 2 - a performance of a whole range of poems from quiet/reflective/thoughtful to daft/upbeat. Plenty of interactive melodica and ukulele music too. Poems from James' collections - Weird, Wild & Wonderful - the poetry world of James Carter (Otter-Barry Books) and Out There In The Wild - poems on nature (Macmillan).

For Key Stage 1/EYFS - a highly interactive assembly with action rhymes on everything from bugs to journeys to aliens - and if time, a bunch of riddles. To finish, a gentle boogie!

POETRY WRITING WORKSHOPS in classrooms (not halls!) - 4 or so in total - 40 minutes each for Upper Key Stage 2 / 30 mins for Lower Key Stage 2 and KS1. Can double up classes if more than a one form entry school. (And a great many teachetrs have commented that this works really well.) The workshops are taken from James' creative writing teachers' books - and encourage children to take risks and experiment with their writing - using dynamic vocabulary, expressive language and rich imagery - and indeed figurative language such as metaphors and similes. Most of these workshops can be further developed into follow-on activities beyond the poetry day.

Workshops commence with James reading a model poem. He will then discuss elements of the poem, and create a new version with the children's ideas on the board. He will edit during the process and explicitly show why each word counts, and how important vocabulary choices are, and what happens when you weave words together in a poem - actively seeking repetitions in various forms to create musical and memorable language.

The resulting poem on the board will serve as a model for the children to do their own writing. James will give extra tips/advice as the children begin and he will then move on to the next workshop as the children develop/craft their ideas. If time, James often likes to return to Years 5 and 6 to conduct 'surgeries' - to listen to the children's evolving poems - encouraging, praising, and even suggesting 'tweaks' and ways of making their lines more succinct, expressive and dynamic - and reminding them of the adage 'less is more'!

BIG FINALE - back in the hall - James MCs this - children reading their poems. Parents very welcome too!

In a single-form Primary, a day may well look like this - KS2 assembly (25 mins in hall) / KS1/EYFS assembly (ditto) 4 workshops in classrooms (doubled up in places)- Years 6&5 4 3&2 1 then Big Finale back in the hall. In a two-form entry school, it could look like this - KS2 assembly (25 mins in hall) / KS1/EYFS assembly (ditto) 4 workshops in classrooms (doubled up in places)- Years 6&6 5&5 4&4 3&3 then Big Finale back in the hall. But this is all a moveable feast and open to negotation!

SPACE / NON-FICTION DAY - same structure as one day poetry visit, but with interactive non-fiction space assemblies (based on The Big Beyond / Once Upon A Star) - with drama, music, storytelling - followed by space poetry websites - weaving space science facts with expressive/metaphoric language.

James has degrees in Primary Education with English B.Ed (Hons) and Children’s Literature MA (with distinction) both from the University of Reading.

Please note that James brings his current DBS, details of public liability insurance and ID to every school.

Thankyou for sharing your brilliant poems – you really inspired me.

Year 5 girl

Your poems were fandabadozy! I enjoyed them as much as I enjoy watching Man U score a goal.

Year 6 boy

James Carter is a brilliant poet with a quick and lively mind. His natural humour, spirituality and warmth shine out in both his poetry and in his relationship with all those he meets. Pupils and adults at Finstock School loved their day spent with him and were left with great ideas, learning and a real feel good factor. Thank you James, keep spreading the happiness!

Jean Roden, Head Teacher, Finstock School C of E Primary School, Oxon

James gave us a lovely day – it was just what we wanted and to be thoroughly recommended! Miniature people (+ grown ups!) are priveleged to spend time in his company...very inspirational wordplay and just right for our book week. Our school endeavours ‘to make the curriculum irresistible to children’ and ‘to weave magic’. James did just that.

Sarah Palmer, Headteacher

Please note that James has a wide variety of exciting, innovative, and above all, tried and tested age/ability-related workshops. These have been well received by classes (from Year 1 to Year 6 and beyond) all over the UK, and have been met with great approval by classroom teachers. And what's more, they have resulted in some fine poems by those young writers. These workshops feature in James' book Let's Do Poetry In Primary Schools! - as well as Just Imagine and Creating Writers.

On occasion, if requested, James will write with children to a cross-curricular classroom topic - but not to a theme chosen by a school specifically for a visit. Themes can work well in classroom situations if there is much time to fully explore the chosen subject area, but can more often than not demand that an external workshopper brings in a new and untested writing workshop into the school. What many schools have done - and with great rewards - is to let James come in with his set workshops, to inspire the classes and to demonstrate what can be done with language, to fire them up and to nurture creativity - and then later on, if schools wish, the teachers can channel that creative energy into specific theme-based writing.

James at Tower Hill Community Primary School James at Tower Hill Community Primary School

Pictures taken by Katja Partridge

James at Thorley Hill Primary School

James at Thorley Hill Primary School

James Carter was a breath of fresh air in our school. He changed the children’s concept of poetry and poets. The children were enthralled by his unique approach to writing and the work they produced in his workshop was exciting.

Literacy Co–ordinator

Back to top

Gifted & Talented Writers’ Days

James Carter runs a Writers’ Day – a one day intensive poetry writing course for Gifted & Talented children at Key Stage 2 – either Years 3 & 4 or 5 & 6. James has run many successful Writers’ Days for Oxfordshire LEA, Inner City London Primary schools, and all over the south of England.

Writers’ Days either include G&T children from one Primary school or will alternatively be based at a host Primary school – and will include children from both the host and neighbouring schools. With the latter, the costs can be spread across all participating schools. The day is held in a classroom or the school library. There are usually a number of supervising adults in attendance (one adult per school – a teacher or teaching assistant). Teachers are encouraged to attend where possible, as the day can indirectly serve as an INSET course on poetry writing at KS2.

The day commences with James performing a number of pieces and talking about his books and the creative process (crafting and drafting). During the day, the children work through a wide range of poetry–orientated workshops which include:

  1. Warm–ups: calligrams and concrete poetry
  2. Free verse forms
  3. Using expressing language
  4. Imagery and metaphor
  5. Syllabic poetry
  6. Kennings
  7. Rhythm and rhyme/narrative

The course gives children the opportunity to express themselves across a variety of poetic forms, but above all, it gives them quality time to explore their own ideas. Throughout the day, James encourages children to have confidence in their creativity, to redraft and to develop their work and to use fresh and expressive language. The Writers’ Day is a lot of fun – though also challenging, rewarding and highly productive – and at the end of the day the children have many new pieces of writing to take back to the classroom.

On request, the course can feature fiction writing.

James was an inspiration. His poetry set to guitar music was a hit with all the children from reception to Year 6. The workshops were fun and the children produced some excellent poems.


Back to top

Start Time & Costs

If local to James (ie South Oxfordshire or Berkshire) James will drive to your school and arrive by 8:30am. If further afield, James will catch the train – however far! – trains are great for writing. James can reach most stations in the South of England by 8:30am.

Costs are negotiable and extremely reasonable, of course!

For costs and availability please send James an email.

Back to top