We were very excited to welcome Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage to Richmond School on Friday, to share his experiences and poetry and to answer our students’ questions. The visit was part of our commitment to valuing and developing ‘Language for Learning’ in our students and was made possible through the generosity of our school Trustees. All GCSE English Literature students study Simon Armitage’s poetry, and to hear it read aloud in Simon’s own voice was an invaluable experience and a real treat.
The visit involved all of our Year 10 students along with those studying English Language or Literature in Year 12. We were also delighted to welcome back some of our Year 13 English students who returned for the event and managed to get a selfie with Simon afterwards – definitely one for the University bedroom wall! Some of our Year 11 students who hope to return in September to study English at ‘A’ Level also joined us for this special event as part of our commitment to their transition to Sixth Form studies.
Simon Armitage spoke about the experiences of being young – relationships with parents, doing things which may be disapproved of, the need to feel different and define yourself. In answer to a question from one of our students about what message he would like to share with young people through his poetry, he spoke compellingly of the power of language and the importance of expression. Treasuring language is something we feel passionate about at Richmond School, and it was wonderful for our students to hear this message from the Poet Laureate.
Hannah Slater, Year 11 student who will be returning to Richmond Sixth Form in the Autumn, said of the poetry reading, ‘You felt like you knew Mr Armitage personally. It was an intimate experience.’ This comment reflects the generosity of Simon’s sharing of personal experience and his combination of erudite poet and down to earth Yorkshireman, which clearly resonated with our students. Arlo Wheatley, Year 10 student also commented ‘It was inspiring to hear about his journey through poetry’.
As part of our lead up to this visit, students were invited to submit an entry to our poetry competition on the theme of ‘Doorways’. Winner Ellie Hughes, Year 10, was presented with her prize by Simon Armitage. A wonderful memory for her and further encouragement to continue to pursue her love of writing after winning another poetry competition for the children of military families earlier in the year.
The power of language and the importance of expression: messages we hope our students take forward into their studies and their lives. It was a superb opportunity to hear from a once in a generation poet and a thoroughly nice man.