Youngsters encouraged to engage with creative writing


On Wednesday 25 April, Gary Toward, author of the historical crime novel The Magpie, visited The Avon Valley School and Performing Arts College.

During his presentation he took the Year 8 students on a journey through time to solve a series of murders, with the main character, Detective Constable Frank Bolam.

The Magpie is set accurately in the period of WW1 and Gary explained to the students how he developed his main character based on his own experiences as a child in a mining family, and how they could use their own knowledge and experiences to make their writing more realistic. The Magpie begins in the north east and ends in the hell of the trenches. During the presentation Gary was able to illustrate with pictures and artefacts how research helps to increase knowledge and allows the reader to see, hear, feel, taste and understand the story.

Former Headteacher turned author, Gary Toward, said “Writing and reading are key skills in life and I want to inspire youngsters to become the best writers they can be. I wrote this book for adults, but I deliberately made it fit the curriculum for English and History as I wanted youngsters to be aware of the struggles of the period, whilst also enjoying reading a novel.”

Alison Davies, Headteacher, said, “We are very grateful to Gary for visiting us to discuss his book with our students. Reading and writing are both vital skills which we work hard to encourage and develop with our students; meeting an author is a wonderful way to inspire our students.”
Gary, a retired secondary head teacher, who is offering his visits free to schools across the UK, added, “Sometimes it really helps to have a visitor say the same things as the teachers. My presentation is a little different and I can show the kids that I came from a poor background and through hard work was able to achieve some dreams. That can only help.”

For further information, or to arrange a photo opportunity please contact Theresa Bale, Headteacher’s PA on 01788 542355 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.