Pupils at the Nottingham University Samworth Academy (NUSA) are getting a headstart in their English lessons thanks to a new writer-in-residence at the school.
Nicola Monaghan is an award-winning author who lived for many years in the Bilborough area of Nottingham where the Academy is based. Her debut novel The Killing Jar, which tells the tale of one of Nottingham’s best-known estates, won the Authors’ Club First Novel Award.
Her new residency at NUSA is part of a charitable literacy project called First Story, which was set up to celebrate and encourage creativity and literacy in young people from historically deprived areas.
Nottingham is the third city in the UK to benefit from the scheme. Nicola Monaghan will spend this academic year working with pupils and running weekly creative writing workshops at NUSA. “There couldn’t be a better match,” she said. “NUSA is round the corner from where I lived for many years growing up and William Sharp, its predecessor, is where my sister went to school. I think it’s really important for these students to see that there are no limits to what they can do or achieve. I have high hopes that it will turn out to be an inspiring project for all concerned.”
Nicola also works at the University‘s School of Education as course leader for the BA Hons Creative and Professional Writing, under her other name, Niki Valentine.
The group of NUSA students Nicola will be working with is mixed in terms of their abilities in mainstream subjects and their backgrounds. In the final term, next summer, she will help pupils produce and publish their own anthology of work.
First Story founder and former head teacher Katie Waldegrave said: “Nottingham seemed ideal both because of its rich literary heritage and the brilliance of the authors currently living and working in the area.”
NUSA’s Principal, David Harris, said: “This new residency will boost even further our pride in our Academy and its new building. Having such a wellknown and successful author in our midst will be an invaluable tool in inspiring the pupils to achieve things they may never have thought possible. Their confidence and pride in the work they do with Nicola will be a key to their future development and success.”
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