Poetry to sustain NQTs through chalkface highs and lows

Written by: Sam Phipps | Published:

All NQTs in Scotland are to receive a special anthology of poems to help them through the tough times, celebrate the highs and inspire them in their profession.

The Scottish Poetry Library (SPL), based in Edinburgh, is working on a pocket-sized collection of about 50 poems. It is being edited by teachers for teachers, and is primarily aimed at supporting their welfare. Launch is planned for spring 2018.

Lilias Fraser, projects manager at the library, said about 30 volunteers from primary and secondary schools gave initial responses to a longlist of poems.

She explained: “We made sure to include lots of teachers from outside the subject sphere of English because we wanted to open this right out. It’s about finding poems that speak to teachers directly, and in diverse cultural and linguistic ways.”

Organisations across the education sector will partner the library in the scheme, including the General Teaching Council of Scotland and the EIS, SSTA and other unions. The book will also go on sale to the public from the library’s own shop and online.

The SPL has been buoyed by the success of its 2014 volume of poems given to new doctors graduating from Scottish medical schools. Tools of the Trade is onto a second edition with a third planned.

Ms Fraser added: “Interest went way beyond what you might expect – not just doctors and their families, so we are hoping the same might happen with our poems for teachers.”

The poems will range from funny to serious, subversive and inspiring, capturing moments every teacher will recognise, she said.

“It will not only be about the tough times, those days when everyone can feel a bit overwhelmed, especially early on. There are the highs too.”

The SPL is asking teachers to add their responses to prospective poems by looking at a few of those shortlisted.

“If a poem makes you laugh in recognition or crystallises complex emotions about an element of the profession, we’d like you to write up to 40 words only, about why. Some of the comments will be picked to go in the book and their authors credited.”


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