An English teacher at King Alfred School Academy in Highbridge is using poetry to help local people gain confidence and boost creativity.

Becky Dalziel is taking part in the Poetry By Heart 2019-20 competition, which is underway in schools and communities involved in every county of England.

“I have long held the opinion that poetry cannot be comprehensively taught, explored and enjoyed by simply learning a quote for an exam,” she says.

“You need to experience the whole poem and if it’s learned by heart then it’s in your head and heart forever, and you can take it anywhere with you.”

“I wanted pupils throughout the Priory Learning Trust to enjoy poems in their entirety throughout school, not just to pass an exam.”

“But when one of my Year 11 GCSE English Lit students said ‘Why would I want to learn a whole poem by heart?’, it became clear I needed some help.”

“I found Poetry By Heart and now, every Friday lunchtime, students from all years meet in my classroom to participate in the Poetry By Heart Competition. It is an amazing opportunity and a wonderful set of resources.”

“It enables my pupils to understand the meaning and pleasure of poetry and gain confidence in reciting poetry in public.”

“I then turned to my local community to help me. I couldn’t think of a better way for my students to appreciate Wendy Cope’s ‘The Orange’ than to have greengrocers reciting the poem.”

“With some hipster barbers persuading us in verse why it’s great having a moustache, our lifeguards then shared the pleasure of being ‘At The Seaside’ by Robert Louis Stevenson. I now have the entire Burnham and Highbridge Town Council reciting poetry.”

“The whole of the Priory Learning Trust is looking forward to hearing hundreds of poems learnt by our wonderful pupils. I am going to learn my favourite poem, ‘About his person’ by Simon Armitage, and read it sat on the sea wall.”

Poetry By Heart is a poetry celebration for young people aged 7-18 years to choose poems they love, learn them by heart and share them aloud.

To get involved, there is a dedicated local Facebook book and you can also register at poetrybyheart.org.uk or talk to us on info@poetrybyheart.org.uk or poetrybyheart.org.uk