Archbishop Ilsley Young Writers


This is the home page for the Young Writers Group at Archbishop Ilsley Secondary School in Birmingham UK. Established in February 1999, the group is part of the WrITe On Project, aimed at helping young men use writing creatively. They are all in Year 7 [11-12 years old].

The work in the school started with a 'kickstart' day of activities with professional writers, Andrew Fusek Peters, Martin Glynn, Peter Cann and Peter Wynne-Willson. After this, applications were invited for pupils keen to commit themselves to the project, and a group of twenty was formed. The pupils have created a wide range of work, much of which is included on their pages. They have also made visits to four primary schools, and worked with groups of pupils who have themselves been creating new writing.


STOP PRESS: Since the project began, a Girls Writers Group has also been established, working with writer Irene Yates, at the school. This group comprises twelve Year Seven pupils, and a page of their poems is now also on this site.


The group in July 1999 finished its first phase of work, and I finished my time as writer-in-residence. The progress made in that six months has been very impressive, and the group is set to continue into the new year, with a new writer-in-residence, and with the original members acting as mentors to next year's Year 7 - some of whom will have come from the Primary Schools involved.



 Group Members - click on any highlighted names to see examples of our work.

Lee Allbright

Ian Lynock

Thomas O'Neill

Sheriff Allam

Adam Donnelly

Jason Osborne

Edward Caudy

Noel Bonass

James Banting

Paul Herron

Rory Dwyer

Barry Keegan

Kieran Hannon

Thomas Shannon

Seamus Ellis

Craig Ledger

Sam Jarvis

Michael Parry

Michael Jones

Leigh Duffy

Thomas Dare

David Cox

. Joseph McGillicuddy

William McInteggart



? Primary School Pages



Girls Writing Group

Oonagh Catterson

Karly Savage

Rachel Canavan

Laura Lowe

Nina Palmer

Kerrie Bashford

Leanne Wilkins

Danielle Ellis

Lisa Williams

Hayley McGovern

The following is a poem I wrote at the end of the project for the final performance, summing up the way the group has evolved:


007 - Poetic Licence To Kill


When I was young, I dreamed of being a famous secret agent

Who saved the planet every time the planet was endangered

I'd spend my days in Monaco, while working undercover

With a shaken dry martini, and a blonde bikini-ed lover

Look, any healthy growing boy's entitled to his dreams

And to the dreadful disappointment that the truth of manhood seems.


Sadly, when I came of age, I never got the call,

Her Majesty's Secret Service had no vacancies at all

Perhaps I was just out when the MI5 chiefs called

Or perhaps they saw my files and thought 'he's just too fat and bald'.

Anyway, when I grew up, I may not have been a spy

But I found my own excitements, as the passing days passed by.

And one way or another, goodness knows exactly how,

I gradually became the mixed-up grown-up I am now


I mention all this childhood stuff, because I had been conned

Because life for me proved just as hard as ever for James Bond

In all the frenzied action of my adolescent night

Though missions were impossible and predicaments were tight

I never conjured up so unachievable a task

As the one we faced in those dark days of February last


They said to me, the powers that be, some of them are here now

They said 'we have a job we see as suiting you somehow

Here are your instructions, please read them and then eat them'

I must have looked as though I wasn't quite sure to believe them

'The Arts Council's new policy, they have a pleasant taste

It's apparently a way of cutting down on paper waste'


I digested my instructions and a strangeness gripped my guts

I scrunched them up and swallowed them, which didn't help that much.

'You mean you want me to go there' - I trembled, I confess,

'Go there..with that..with them…what, seriously?' 'YES'

'Go to Archbishop Ilsley School, and write there, with the boys'

My jaw dropped, with some sort of jaw-dropping kind of noise.

'You won't be on your own, you will be working with a team

You have a quite straightforward task - inspiring Acocks Green'


And so began the project which will culminate tonight

A band of Year Seven boys, forming a group to write.

And to ensure the enterprise began with wicked vibes

A dream-team of pen-pushers, a super-squad of scribes.


There was rapid rapper Martin, a poetic ball of fire

And the didgeridoo of Andrew too at six foot seven higher

And a pair of playwright Petes - one with beard and one with chins

This is the group that storms the school as our narrative begins.


In a magic day, their message raised the ceiling of the school

Clapping, rapping, idea-sapping, - writing can be cool


In the ensuing weeks and months the Writers Group was born

Creating work of strength and depth across a range of form

From playful wordplay poems, that were funny and appealing,

To emotional confessions of the deepest inner feelings.

We've built characters from nothing, created dramatic scenes

And written piles of gobbledigook, not knowing what it means

Storybooks for under fives, of Lunchboxes called Lenny

Adventures for the knowing few, space stories for the many.

No subject was too serious, no subject not allowed

As we followed every furrow that our inspiration ploughed.


We took our work as writers into four of our old schools

And worked in there as mentors, showing younger kids the rules.

We made a book of all our work, as you know - this is it.

We put it on the World Wide Web, for all the globe to visit

To perhaps inspire across the world any aspiring bard

Who previously thought that writing properly is hard

To spread the message far and wide convincing everyone

That writing isn't just a chore, that writing can be fun.


And every single member of this literary band

Has created something special, something quirky, something grand

There have been nice surprises here at almost every session

As each of these young writers finds his own unique expression.


We are writers

Words excite us

Though they can be dodgy blighters

We are poets

Though we know it

Sometimes means they jump and bite us

We are proud

To shout it loud

At the risk of laryngitis

We are writers

Words excite us

May the love of them unite us.


You can hear us

Being serious

Having stunning fun with puns

Or read grimly

How a simile

Met a metaphor here once


Herds of words

On spines of lines

Action, fiction


Feet of beats

Rhymes sometimes

Story, gore



We are writers

Words excite us

We are literacy fighters

If we're drowsy

Feeling lousy

It is words that will ignite us

We are proud

To shout it loud

At the risk of laryngitis

We are writers

Words excite us

May the love of them unite us.


So all in all it wasn't quite the nightmare that it seemed

Or the mission most impossible that this young writer dreamed

Instead it has been hours of fun, [with moments of impatience]

With the Young Writers of Archies, and their great imaginations.


May your writing long continue, may your passion stay alive

May it blossom and develop with enjoyment and with drive

May you long remember how it feels to join with everyone

To experiment, create, express, imagine, and have fun.


PWW July 1999



 School Address

Archbishop Ilsley RC School, Victoria Road, Acocks Green, Birmingham


Peter Wynne-Willson e-mail:

Any comments on this page would be very gratefully received



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