The Sydney School of English (SSE) is famed for its proven results in the area of teaching creative writing. This is due to the SSE’s unique teaching program as well as the expertise of its teaching team. Headed by principals and directors, Margaret and Jill, all teachers are hand-picked, fully-qualified, experienced professionals in their own right. In addition, all teachers have undergone the SSE’s own, rigorous in-house training.
It is well-known that the SSE adopts a step by step approach to teaching writing, a methodology which relies on the skills of writing being taught, as opposed to merely ‘writing a story a week’. In fact, research shows that the latter produces limited progress.
The key words are: skills, teaching, reader.
Through the finely-tuned teaching program, the students build up a bank of higher order writing skills to interest a reader. This is what creative writing is: the art of using language creatively to manipulate a reader.
All writing programs can be studied as single modules or as part of a longer, more intensive program.
An end of term assessment and report are provided at each stage.
It is never too early to begin writing and at the early stages of Year 1 and 2, it is important that the correct foundations, to being an effective writer, are laid. Not only are students introduced to the basic creative writing techniques, but they
are also taught the importance of using appropriate, high-level vocabulary. This is achieved through a variety of interesting, fun programs using a wide range of teaching aids such as puppets, life-size story characters, video clips and sound effects.
Middle Primary is an important stage, as it heralds the introduction of NAPLAN in Year 3 and O.C. Testing in Year 4. The Year 3 and 4 programs build on the early writing skills. Students begin to develop an understanding of ‘writing for a reader’ as opposed rather than writing a story almost entirely focussed on the plot. Planning and character take centre stage as does the language techniques required to write an interesting narrative or description.
For students planning to progress towards a Scholarship or top Selective School, the Middle Primary courses are recommended. The earlier the ‘correct teaching’ occurs, the better the chance of success in later years.
This stage is crucial for Scholarship and Selective School test preparation. Year 5 and 6 students extend their repertoire of writing skills by adding on elements such as voice, theme,
pacing, tension and cohesion. Vocabulary is more challenging, as is the range of language skills taught. The genres covered include, amongst others, science fiction, the thriller, comedy, adventure and fantasy.
The students attain a firm grasp of how to control a reader’s emotions and the pictures imagined. In other words, they are effectively manipulating the reader by using language both skilfully and creatively.
When an appropriate series of courses has been completed, the final stage is to practise these skills in a set time period using a variety of stimuli.
The standard attained in these Upper Primary years before the Selective and Scholarship Tests, is well beyond that of the average high school student.
All writing classes at all stages include an extensive, skills-based comprehension component, an end of term assessment and progress report.
It’s never too late to “Rise to the Challenge” with the SSE!