"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.
I have collected quite a number of testimonials from schools over the years, of which my proudest is a reference in an Ofsted report, describing my workshop as "... compelling..." The reason I'm particularly proud of this is that it was only the second workshop I'd ever taught! I thought I was doing well just making sure the children weren't climbing the walls while the inspector was in!
Other testimonials have invariably been longer! You can browse through them below.
From The English School, Gothenburg, Sweden
"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
From St. Andrew's Primary School, Salisbury
"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
From Christ Church Primary School, Bradford on Avon
"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
From Bartley Junior School, Hampshire
"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