FROM OUR WRITER IN RESIDENCE - SUSAN MULHOLLAND
“I am passionate about stories, whether we're reading, watching or writing them ourselves and want this programme of work to spark that passion in the students.
My first term at Sacred Heart was wonderful! The Year 7 students are smart, funny, imaginative and so creative, it's been my pleasure to work with them and I look forward to seeing their stories evolve over time.
For my own development, this has been invaluable. Having to explore my own processes and practices, in order to share them with the students has made me a better writer already; I can't wait for next term!”
WRITER IN RESIDENCE AT SACRED HEART
Here at Sacred Heart, we are lucky enough to have our very own Writer in Residence, Susan Mulholland. Susan has an English Literature degree and a Master's in Film from Newcastle University. She worked at Northern Stage for 22 years as Deputy Director of Participation and at the same time developed her career as a playwright specialising in children's theatre. She is now a freelance playwright and creative producer: her work has been staged locally and nationally with a variety of established theatre companies. She also develops narratives for large scale outdoor events such as Enchanted Park. In the summer of 2021 Susan’s plays were on in Sunderland and at 11 Arches Park in Bishop Auckland.
Susan started working with us in the summer term of 2021, through a pilot project that was funded by the Arts Council England. Initially, she worked only with Year 7, however the feedback from staff and students was so positive that she is now also leading writing workshops in Year 9 library lessons and runs a Year 8 extra-curricular creative writing club. We feel very fortunate that Susan is now the SHHS Writer in Residence, meaning that all of our KS3 students get the amazing opportunity to work with an experienced professional writer. Susan has been able to guide and inspire so many of our girls to find their own voices as writers.
Thanks to Arts Council England for funding this pilot project.
Miss MacKay | Teacher of 7A
“The informal nature of the sessions has allowed the girls to have a huge amount of fun with the activities despite COVID restrictions- so I can only imagine what would be possible if we were able to explore more ideas.
As their class teacher, it has been fascinating for me to see their personalities shine through in their ideas, and many students I often don't hear from as much in lessons are willing to act out ideas creatively. This has then helped my planning as I have been able to call upon these students for ideas in their normal English lessons.”
Miss Sweet | Teacher of 7E
“The girls love to discuss what they’re watching/reading at the start of the lesson. My class is very keen on reading, so it is a great creative outlet for them!
The freedom of Susan’s sessions offers relief from more restrictive assessment style activities, but also hugely supports our curriculum and future subjects they could choose to take in their later years.
I think these sessions are really helping to build confidence in the class – the girls love sharing their ideas and all the discussion. They love working collaboratively and are really invested in the ideas that they have come up with working with Susan!”
What was the best thing about working with Susan?
“She encouraged us to read or watch more films so that we could tell her about them.”
“The endless pen writing exercise was the one I enjoyed the most because it really got me to think creatively.”
“The best thing was that I could express my inner thoughts and feelings without feeling judged by others.”
“The best things about working with Susan was everything!”
Has working with Susan made you feel differently about English?
“Yes because it has made me see it from a writer’s point of view.”
“It has made me feel more confident about sharing my ideas with the class.”
“Working with Susan every Tuesday made me really look forward to lessons when she was there. Her lessons have helped me with how to structure stories, introducing me to tips like the story arc and taught me how to engage readers. It has showed me that having a career in English can be hard but it is a lot of fun if you enjoy it!”
“Susan has made me more confident in English.”
“Susan has really inspired me to like English – every time I have walked into the classroom I have smiled and every time I left I thought about how amazing the lesson was and how I couldn’t wait for the next one!”