This year’s Poetry by Heart contest started in earnest right at the start of the new school year.
Having had two very successful years with former student Caitlin Carr (who is now studying English at Cambridge University now) and Year 13 student Ella Blackburn, both having made the national finals, there was considerable pressure on this year’s competitors.
The schools very active Poetry Club hosted the event and we were delighted that once again Anne Fine was able to join us as Chair of the Judges. As a former Children’s Laureate, Anne managed to squeeze us into her busy schedule after always being a active supporter of Poetry by Heart. Anne always provides great constructive feedback for the students whilst also helping the winners to prepare their performance for the next round. We also had Madame Deane, who has been an active supporter of the competition and Mr Provis, who runs the Poetry Club as judges.
This year’s joint winners were Year 10 students, Jake Knight and Cal Baker who between them, recited the poetry of Clough, Gunn, Wilde and Frost. They were complimented on their ability to learn the poetry with a high degree of accuracy and also to modulate their voices effectively. The students will work on their performances and then go on to have a video recording made of this which will allow judges to decide who goes forward into the final.
In a curriculum where, for English Literature at GCSE and A Level, students need to learn quotations from set texts by heart, competitions such as these very much support students’ learning.
Also this year, for the first time there is another element to the Poetry by Heart Competition, which involves learning one of Shakespeare’s sonnets by heart and then reciting it. We are looking forward to this and we hope many of students, and indeed teachers from school, will enter.