" ... compelling ..." Ofsted!
"Julia has a unique ability to engage and inspire every child to share her passion for books and writing."
Andy Priors from Holly Meadows School, speaking to the Lynn News.
" ...an invaluable and inspirational experience ..."
The English School, Gothenburg, Sweden (click here for the full review)
With over 100 visits to schools in the past five years, teaching hundreds of workshops and talking to literally thousands of children, you might guess that I love working with kids!
In a normal year, I travel around the UK (and sometimes even abroad) visiting schools in person, and I would be delighted to visit your school when we're all allowed to do that sort of thing again! I also usually have an annual partnership with a single school, as part of the Patron of Reading scheme. To find out more, click here.
Meanwhile, the pandemic prompted me to start offering virtual visits over Zoom or Google Classrooms, and these have been so successful, I'm going to continue offering them alongside face to face visits. Virtual visits give children from very small or remote schools the chance to speak to a real live author, without the travel and accommodation costs that can make this impossible for a school otherwise.
Beamed from my desk to your class (even if the students get stuck at home again!), these visits follow a slightly simpler, more informal format than the workshops I teach when I visit in-person. Virtual visits last an hour, and include a short talk from me about The Scar Gatherer series, a discussion of the historical period they've been studying where relevant, and lots of Q&A time for the children.
A parent who was listening in during a lockdown workshop sent the following comment to her daughter's teacher:
"I just wanted to write to say a massive thanks for organising the session with Julia Edwards - our daughter loved it and we think it was brilliant! I don’t think many children get such a great opportunity and it was really inspiring - from my side, a couple of bits I heard about how she found writing hard sometimes and how she dealt with that, and how she found hearing the children‘s questions and ideas helpful as an author were great to hear."
I've never presented to parents before (and I wasn't especially aware of them listening in to this particular workshop!) so I was delighted this family was pleased.
Virtual Author Visits
Whether you're one of my readers, a parent, or a teacher, please feel free to get in touch with me to ask about a real or virtual visit, wherever you live.
Format of in-person visits
I offer full days and half days to schools anywhere (including abroad!), and occasional one-off workshops for schools that are near Salisbury, UK.
What I do depends on the age of the pupils and how much time we have. I've done all sorts, from tactile exploration sessions with children and young people with special needs, through fairy-tale sessions with Key Stage 1, to detailed workshops on the technical aspects of creative writing, such as plot, characterisation, dialogue and editing, with pupils in Key Stages 2, 3 and 4.
For a list of the workshops I'm currently offering, please click on the buttons below. These lists are updated whenever a school requests a new workshop, so if you would like to focus on an area which doesn't appear on either list, I would be delighted to have an excuse to dream up something new. There is no additional charge for extra preparation, as new material will always come in useful in the future.
For schools interested in sessions connected to The Scar Gatherer books, I offer an hour-long introduction to the series for an unlimited number of children, which includes plenty of participation and features an abundance of fascinating historical facts, such as what connects mobile phone technology to Vikings, and how (and why) to remove your eyebrows if you're visiting 1666.
The historical literacy sessions based on my books include a discussion of the historical period the school wishes to focus on, a quick introduction to the associated Scar Gatherer book, and a short reading. In the second part of the session, the pupils have activity worksheets to do, based on the relevant book, adapted to match the age and level of the pupils. These sessions finish with a question and answer session and work well for a class of up to 30 pupils. They can take as much as an hour an a half - which allows plenty of activity time - though I've been asked to squeeze them into hour-long slots, which works perfectly well too.
None of my workshops require the pupils to have read any of my books in advance. However, if you are planning on using one of the Scar Gatherer books as a class reader, there are activity packs for each book available for free download here.
If you are a teacher considering using one of the Scar Gatherer books to support your topic work, there is now a 7 week English teaching scheme available from Teaching from Text for The Leopard in the Golden Cage. The scheme's creators at Teaching from Text (who are also teachers) plan further schemes for other books in the series over the next year.
Teaching the Slave Trade
In the course of my school visits in 2019 and 2020, I noticed a real desire among teachers to teach their children about the Slave Trade, but also understandable hesitation about how to approach such a difficult subject. To help with this, I wrote a lesson plan for Teach Primary (July 2021 issue) with a variety of suggested activities, which you can download directly here, and also a blog post on Books for Topics with plenty of tips for teachers.
Please contact me for fees and availability.
With KS2 children, I usually find that some of the children want to buy signed copies of the books. I'm happy to supply an order form to be sent home in advance so that children can buy a signed copy on the day, but if you'd like to handle this differently, just let me know. It's usually possible to arrange this with virtual visits too, if the children are keen - I sign the books and post them to the school after the visit.
What schools have said ...
"We enjoyed a wonderful, creative three days with Julia with a variety of presentations, workshops and question and answer sessions. She worked with our year 3, 4, 5 and 6 classes (aged 8 through to 13) on character writing, editing text and a dramatic tension workshop where students couldn’t wait to volunteer to act out various fairy tale roles – particularly wanting to be the wolf! The sessions were engaging, thoroughly prepared and adapted to suit the needs of our students - not an easy task given the international nature of our school – English is some of our students’ third, fourth or even fifth language. Julia made ‘on the spot’ teaching adjustments according to the nature of the class and she supported students individually when required too.
The workshops were organised through a contact in our PTA and Julia was very quick to respond to emails when finalising the arrangements necessary for the visit. Julia kicked off her visit with a couple of larger assemblies to introduce herself to the students. She fitted her ideas around our school day timetable and her flexibility allowed us to make the most of her visit and time with us. We used non-lesson times to host question and answer sessions in our school library so that students across the school had an opportunity to speak directly with Julia and ask a whole variety of questions about her and her books. She was very approachable and open with the students which they appreciated.
Julia was also kindly able to organise copies of her books to be sold through our PTA and she personally signed them (and lots of other pieces of paper handed to her by excited students!) which students were thrilled about. The books reached us astonishing quickly and there was a real buzz around the school when they arrived on the students’ desks. They are completely hooked on her writing and copies of her books are being read in every room in the school. Our school library ordered some additional copies of Julia’s books (we had a couple of sets already) to help cope with the demand from students wanting to borrow the series and they’ve been flying out of the library ever since – we even have a waiting list for those wanting copies to loan.
I would completely recommend having Julia visit other schools and I hope to welcome her back to The English School in the future too. It was an invaluable and inspirational experience having a real author in our school, with useful writing tips and approaches which students were actually able to use in their work the week directly after her visit."
Helen Brown, English teacher and Y4 teacher, The English School, Gothenburg, Sweden
"I was keen to have a writer in school that would promote the process of creative writing and engage and inspire the children to read. Julia’s visit certainly achieved this.
Working with a Yr 4 and then Yr 5 class she began by doing some group activities on writing, followed by some discussion of the Romans and then read some extracts from her book, 'The Leopard in the Golden Cage'. The children then did a quiz and crossword which got them to explore the book in greater detail.
Julia was good at involving the children in discussion and had also planned for the needs of less able children. The children were enthusiastic about the idea of the book and how the whole series of books would develop. Many of the children bought copies of the book and really enjoyed reading it.
Julia was flexible in making preparations for the day so that it fitted with the organisation of the school. She was very professional in dealing with the school and the children engaged very well with her. I would wholeheartedly recommend Julia as a writer to visit schools."
Alan Blake, Subject Leader for English, St. Andrew’s Primary School
"Julia visited my Year 3 class to talk about her first book in the Scar Gatherer series, 'The Leopard in the Golden Cage'. Her session was a fabulous mixture; both hugely informative from a historical perspective and engaging from a literacy perspective. The subject matter was a perfect link to the new History Curriculum and the activities she planned were extremely well-conceived.
I will definitely be using the book for our class reader and in Guided Reading sessions this academic year as I have had such positive feedback from the children in my class who bought the book. Having read it to my own children, I thoroughly recommend it, and we are really looking forward to starting the next one in the series!"
Rebecca Reid, Year 3 teacher, Christ Church Primary School
"Julia visited Bartley to do an interactive lesson on narrative writing with our Year 5 group (about 90 children). The session had three objectives: firstly, to engage the children's thinking about the interaction of characters and the effect this had on the reader; secondly, to provide them with the tools to enhance their own story writing; and thirdly, to introduce her Scar Gatherer series to the children.
During her session, Julia drew on the children's experience of antagonists and protagonists in fiction, using role play in which she selected a group of children to re-enact the story of Little Red Riding Hood. The role play was handled well by Julia to maintain the focus of the activity and the children were very absorbed by the interactive talk and enjoyed the reading from Julia's first book, "The Leopard and the Golden Cage". (Over a third of the year group bought the book.)
Julia presented herself well, spoke clearly and with good pace, and encouraged as many children as possible to engage with her talk. The lesson ended with a question and answer session and book signing in the library.
In follow up lessons, the children recalled and developed several key points from Julia’s talk. The session certainly had a positive influence in deepening their understanding of the structure and composition of story writing. Some very good story writing resulted from the unit of work. Many of the children are looking forward to the next book in the series.
Jonathan Howard, Subject leader for History, Bartley Junior School