The things that struck me the most about this, the very first TICE creative writing year, is just how good at writing these students were – and how very well read.

In an age of Instagram, YouTube videos and constant digital distraction, I’m overjoyed to report that today’s teenagers still love getting lost in a good book. And what books…
We discussed Gatsby, we deconstructed Frankenstein, we thought back to Roald Dahl and Harry Potter and we even spent a little while with The Tiger Who Came to Tea.

As this was the first creative writing cohort, it was very much led by the students. It was important that they were challenged, but also that they were engaged – and that this didn’t feel like just another school day.

The projects we chose for the create stage evolved over the days we spent together. By the end of our Explore stage, it was clear we had two camps – budding journalists and a gaggle of creative writers.

The 2 Creative Writing projects 2018:

With enormous thanks to:
– Mr Wallace at George Stephenson High School for the book recommendations and coffee
– Miss Laing at Marden High School for the Taylor Swift and Friends love
– Mr Ranson at Marden High School for the football knees story
Northumbria University for having us
The Bowes Museum for hosting our journalists, and the silver swan
Seaton Delaval Hall for hosting our creative writers, and great cake
Mslexia Magazine for a brilliant brief

Here are our projects… Creative Writing 2018 – one for our Anna Wintours and one for our Hilary Mantels.

Journalism, Media and Public Relations (PR) Project: How to report on a fashion shoot.
In collaboration with: The Bowes Museum and Northumbria University.
Led by: Katherine Wildman

Overview: Calling all journalists! Are you ready to delve into the world of feature writing and reportage? There’s a fashion shoot happening at The Bowes Museum and we need you to write a feature about it. Could you help a beautiful North East venue to showcase its fashion collections in a fresh new way that will appeal to your age group? If your answer is yes – then this is the project for you.

The Bowes Museum is a hidden treasure, a jewel in the heart of beautiful Teesdale. The magnificent building stands proudly in the historic market town of Barnard Castle housing internationally significant collections of fine and decorative arts, showcasing beautiful fashion collections and more.

However, the Press Officer at Bowes Museum has requested some assistance. This is where you (Generation Z) may be able to help. The museum regularly features some of the most amazing fashion exhibitions in the world, but there’s a shortage of visitors aged 12-18. Could you as young fashion journalist help with this?

These four students were set free in the grounds of The Bowes Museum to report on a fashion shoot for the museum’s PR team. They had to be motivated, confident in their abilities to extract details from the location and from other people – and to craft a piece of writing that was engaging, informative and carefully constructed.

Students Work: (Enlarge PDF: BOWES Creative Writing Board 1 and BOWES Creative Writing Board 2 )
Credit: Charlotte Henderson, Meagan Anderson and Elicia Watson from George Stephenson High School. Esme Arnold from Marden High School.

Long form creative writing, prose or script project: Tell us a story… write us a script.
In collaboration with: Seaton Delaval Hall (National Trust), Mslexia Magazine and Northumbria University.
Led by: Katherine Wildman

Overview: Seaton Delaval may have been one of the architects Sir John Vanbrugh’s smallest country houses, but it was home to the larger than life Delaval family. The house and surrounding landscape were in keeping with the style expected in Georgian society, yet behind the formality lies a story of theatrical mischief…

Known as the ‘Gay Delavals’ due to their high spirited and flamboyant lifestyle, an invitation to one of the Delaval family’s parties was the hottest ticket in town. In an age notorious for extremes of behaviour, they stood apart as the most notorious of all Georgian partygoers and pranksters. Imagine waking in the house to find your room “turned upside down” with furniture fixed to the ceiling. It was that scene from like The Twits… but real.
Enter a world where an extraordinary lifestyle was acted out in the most colourful way. The Delavals loved a performance, staging events from rope-dancers and sack races outdoors to masquerade balls and even their own theatrical productions, which earned rave reviews at the time.

The students were given minimal guidance – and let loose in the grounds of a stately home with an overarching brief set by the editorial team at Mslexia magazine. They explored script, they explored long-form poetry, they wrote reams and reams and reams of glorious prose about love, death, siblings, passion, death, longing, adventure, intrigue and more.

Students Work: Enlarge PDF – Seaton D Hall CW Board 1 , Seaton D Hall CW Board 2Seaton D Hall CW Board 3 and Seaton D Hall CW Board 4 ext
Credit: Olivia Peterson, Sophie-Anne Appleton, Evie Robson, Joelle Esquejo, Grace Langley, James Robertson, Jess Beales, Peter Whitehouse and George Gardner from Marden High School. Emma McLinden, Sophie Dixon, Shauna McGregor, Joshua Wall, Eve Fife, Gabriele Grigaite, Chloe Shears and William Murray from George Stephenson High School.

The graduates of this year’s first-ever TICE Creative Writing programme have set the bar extraordinarily high and their work was of an astonishing standard. This was reflected in the final show with feedback from university lecturers, our industry supporters and the parents and teachers. I look forward to reading all about it – and them –in the future. Watch this space.