Thursday 31 March 2011

A Visit to Bolton Sixth Form College

Bolton Sixth Form College is so big you can’t see it. Neither sat nav nor the iPhone recognise its post code it is so new. But there it is, nestled next to Bolton College and the University of Bolton. It’s an impressive building with a rather grand but light and airy entrance, all purple sofas and sealed grey concrete. There is a purposeful busyness about the place.
The library, however, is a bit of a shock. It seems to consist of a couple of bookshelves on a narrow corridor.
There is one sensible option we could take for all students: provide them with an ebook-reader, loaded up with all the essential books they need for their courses. However, that still does not mean we can do away with libraries: what about those who want to read extra books? As I said yesterday, with cuts to Arts Council Grants and library cut backs, we might as well be burning books and doing away with ideas.
Thank goodness then, that over twenty students volunteered for my Creative Writing Sessions yesterday. I showed them all a review of Alex Smith’s Calling For Angels. Alex was just 14 when she wrote Calling for Angels and 17 when it was published. I suggested to the students that they would be capable of writing like that.
We worked on creating characters and then putting them in a scene. They did this beautifully and, as always with this exercise, ten minutes in, silence descended.
The time went so quickly. But yes, every single one showed they had the potential to do what Alex had done, though of course we don’t yet know whether they would have the self-discipline.
I had a really good time. The students worked hard and both they and the staff were really friendly. I hope I get invited back some day.

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