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My daughter recently participated in the 12 week creative writing programme run by Dani of Bright Light Education in Ealing (courses also take place in Chiswick). I knew straight away that this course would be perfect for her. At 10 years old she’s a bubbling pot of ideas and creativity but now in year 6, she has few opportunities to unleash that creative spirit, because so much of her school work is dominated by the strict curriculum and SATS test practise. In fact, I learnt from Dani that in 2016, KS2 SATs tests were overhauled to be in line with the new national curriculum. This meant that, in Dani’s words; “the test is now be entirely based on comprehension, spelling, grammar and maths, reducing opportunities for teachers to push creativity in the classroom.” I remember loving creative writing well into secondary school and this makes me extremely sad.

The Bright Light Education Creative Writing course is designed for children aged 9 to 11 who want to improve their creative writing skills. Each weekly session is 1 ½ hours long and the course includes a copy of the Creative Writing Skills book written by Bright Light Education Co-Founders Danielle Okumura and Charlotte Badenoch. With a maximum of six pupils per course, the children have the fun and company of learning in a group (often with children from different schools which is nice in the run up to starting high school) but the attention of a smaller group. Dani has a wonderful way with children, she’s warm and calm and children take to her straight away.

Reading out stories to the class.

It was a pleasure to pick my daughter up after each session, absolutely brimming with excitement as she would always be. She would chat excitedly about the course for the whole 15 minute walk home and she loved reading her work, first of all to her brother and I and then to my husband, as soon as he got in through the front door.

What I also found very impressive was the detailed level of feedback we got from Dani each week. Both from chatting outside when we picked up and also in the weekly email in which she would also set some additional work (optional) that we could do at home. We did this when we could – not always possible with my daughter’s busy life of school/ playdates and a large variety of extra-curricular activities- but the homework set was interesting and supplemented what they had learnt in the course so it was never a question of my daughter minding having to do it, just time didn’t always allow every week.

All in all, I can wholeheartedly recommend this course – both as a creative outlet for children in an age where sadly the creativity has largely been taken out of Key Stage 2 English lessons but also because it has really improved my daughter’s performance in other areas. Her general English language skills have noticeably advanced, she’s more confident in her writing and I also think it’s helped her to read more critically. She is always in the middle of writing a new story and it’s so lovely to see.

This is a good place to mention the creative writing competition that Dani and her co-founder Charlotte have recently launched as part of their mission to get children writing creatively again with some fab prizes from local businesses including Masquerade Theatre Arts, Craft-it Parties and Questors Theatre, as well as vouchers for Pizza Express and Wagamamma. A great incentive for West London Kids to get writing!

Dani Okumura, primary school teacher and co-founder of Bright Light Education Ltd, states: “Creative writing allows children the opportunity to develop their imagination whilst learning important literacy skills along the way. Whilst there is a value to learning grammar, there is a fear that SATs preparation lessons swallow up the precious time which should be given to developing a love of writing.” The competition is open to all children living in West London* from the age of 7 to 13. *Boroughs include Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Richmond-upon-Thames, Hillingdon, Hounslow, as well as Wandworth in South London.

To find out more about the Creative Writing Competition, please visit https://brightlighteducation.co.uk/creative-writing-competition/

If you are interested in enrolling your child in the Bright Light Education Creative Writing course in Ealing or Chiswick next term, you can find more information here. https://brightlighteducation.co.uk/creative-writing/ The cost is £450 per 12 week course, which includes the cost of the creative writing book that accompanies the course, as well as other materials provided.

To find out more about Bright Light Education visit their website: https://brightlighteducation.co.uk and follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brightlighteducation.co.uk/

Disclaimer: The course was gifted to me completely free of charge in return for a review on West London Kids and social media consultancy/ training, but every word of this review is my true opinion and experience. I genuinely and wholeheartedly recommend this course to anyone with a child between 9-11 years old.