Friday 13 February 2009

Day of contrasts – from disaffected youth to creative cafés

Yes, the boys at Ysgol Coed Menai are quite tough. Yes, I did hear a few more swear words than I’m used to. And I can’t exactly say that they were all perfect gentlemen, but I can say several very good things about my visit there.
First of all, the school is in a beautiful setting with glorious views form its windows. It’s accommodated in a beautiful old house and you drive through glorious woodland to get to it. You have to go along a track which leads to it, a caravan park which at this time of year seems empty and a farm. It’s off the road between the two bridges across the Menai Straits.
And none of the boys were rude to me, in fact.
They did work and they worked well. Year 8 boys did haikus about a new horror theme park we were creating. The Year 7s did acrostic poems about natural disasters. The 10/11 group worked on opposite poems about healthy living, flash fiction based on minor or negative characters in well known stories. All of them had a go at the Shape Game. One person has to draw a random shape and their partner has to make it into a picture - preferably something to do with what they have just been writing with.
These are very small groups, accompanied always by quite a few adults – teachers and teaching assistants.
I was given a very good but enormous lunch. Some of these youngsters may not get another meal. It was good food but, alas, left me with no appetite for the café later.
On this occasion, we won’t be building a book. That small number of boys won’t produce enough. But I am going to set up a web site and they can continue to add to it.
Then I went off to the Blue Sky café. They are absolutely doing exactly what a Creative Café should do. They have so much going on and their food is marvellous. Exciting times, indeed.

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