The Battling Boro Bards from Archibald Primary School in Middlesbrough have won this year's ‘Our Stories' performance poetry slam for their poem People may think our town is grim. The competition was part of the National Literacy Trust's Middlesbrough Reads campaign.
Six local primary schools, Archibald Primary School, Beech Grove Primary School, Hemlington Hall Academy, North Ormesby Primary Academy, Viewley Hill Academy and Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Primary School - the inaugural winners of the competition - took part this year, making up a total of 12 teams of 60 pupils.
‘Our Stories' is a creative writing and performance poetry project presented by the National Literacy Trust in partnership with the Middlesbrough Promise from Middlesbrough Council with input from local performance poets Bob Beagrie and Andy Willoughby.
All participating schools learnt to craft poetry in different styles such as kennings and riddles in workshops led by Bob and Andy. Subsidised through the Middlesbrough Promise, the workshops focused on local places and landmarks to inspire children to write about their local surroundings.
The National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough, known locally as Middlesbrough Reads, improves the literacy outcomes of children and families through schools, bespoke programmes and community-focused activities. The campaign also supports the work of Middlesbrough Council's Middlesbrough Promise, which improves the life chances of young people in Middlesbrough through reading.
The ‘Our Stories' initiative encourages pupils to cultivate a curiosity around poems and how they work, a willingness to play with language and a desire to communicate ideas. Children are inspired to discover and define their individual poetry style through lively discussion, collaborative and individual writing and performing tasks, while aligning to the national curriculum.
The competition culminated in the grand final, held at Middlesbrough Town hall before the end of the school term and attended by more than 130 local pupils. The judging panel was made up of the Middlesbrough Reads Manager, Allison Potter and National Literacy Trust Programme Manager for the North East, James Kingett.
Middlesbrough Reads Manager, Allison Potter said: "James and I were delighted to judge the ‘Our Stories' competition and witness such a fantastic selection of performances. A year after developing the resource and designing it specifically with Middlesbrough in mind, it's been brilliant to see it at its peak.
"With poetry centre stage in the national curriculum, there is no better time to get stuck into creative poetry writing. We hope that the pupils feel more confident with spoken language since taking part and will be encouraged to write more poems for fun."
Visit middlesbroughreads.org.uk to read the winning poem.