White Water Writers Book Launch

Watermill large
Posted on 02 March 2017

Children from Watermill School in Staffordshire have written and published their own book under the supervision of a team from Keele University.

White Water Writers is a project led by Dr Yvonne Skipper, a lecturer in Psychology at Keele University, which helps groups of young people to write a book in a week.

Dr Skipper explains:

“The White Water Writers project gives children the chance to write and publish a full length novel in a week. They receive a brief on Monday morning, plan and write on Tuesday and Wednesday, edit their work on Thursday, and by Friday, they finish the book by deciding on the title, the blurb and the cover.”

Watermill School in Staffordshire caters for 180 children with a variety of special educational needs. The group that took part in the White Water Writers project consisted of seven boys ranging in age from eight to 14. Coinciding with World Book Day, the school hosted a book signing of the children’s finished novel - ‘The Game Heroes’ - and invited families along to celebrate the children’s achievements.

Alfie Eccleston, aged eight, was one of the co-writers of the book. His parents, Kerrie and Steve Eccleston, have already ordered several copies of the book for family and friends. Kerrie commented:

“It’s been absolutely amazing. Alfie was a very reluctant writer, and for him to have written a book is pretty unbelievable. It’s brought him out of his shell, and helped his confidence. He’s been working with other children which he didn’t like to do before - the difference in him is amazing. The book is a fantastic achievement, not just for Alfie, but for all of the children; it goes to show that it doesn’t matter what you think you can or can’t do - you can achieve anything if you want to - nothing can stand in your way. We’re so proud of him.”

Jen Lamidey, English Lead at Watermill School, worked with the children whilst they wrote the book, and commented:

“The project wouldn’t have been possible without Yvonne and the team from Keele University. Our children all have moderate learning disabilities, and taking part in the White Water Writers project allowed them to use their imagination and explore their creativity. They have to concentrate their attention for a week, and cooperate with their group to get the book written, and they’ve all done so well - we’re really proud of them.”

Dr Skipper continued:

“The project started out as a way of researching ways to raise literacy levels, but over time, it has become about much more; it’s about aspiration - if you can write a book in a week, think about what you can achieve in a term or a year - helping children to realise what they can achieve if they work hard.”

Charlotte Bagnall, one of the postgraduate students from Keele University who helped to supervise the project, said:

“I found the project really rewarding, seeing the children’s development in their writing and their literacy levels improving, but also seeing their social skills and their team work develop as they interact with each other, is really amazing to see.”

The White Water Writers team has already worked with seven schools this year, and Dr Skipper is currently undertaking additional research into the long-term impact of the project.

For more information about Dr Skipper’s work, see the Psychology research pages and whitewaterwriters.com