All About Andy Craven-Griffiths
Andy wrote his first stories as pop-up books in primary school. He caught the writing bug more ferociously at 17, having already been exposed to a poetry-based hip-hop music, when he heard his older brother, John Berkavitch, practising performance poems around the house.
After a couple of nervous open mic performances, Andy was booked by venues, then festivals and since winning the Glastonbury slam 2005, has performed extensively live on stage including at Latitude Festival, Battersea Arts Centre and Cheltenham Literature Festival. He has also had work broadcast on the likes of Radio 1, Radio 4 and BBC 2. His written work has been printed in renowned poetry journals such as Magma and Ambit.
Since 2016 Andy has: been one of Radio 3’s Verb New Voices, worked on projects for 14-18 NOW, been part of Leeds Gallery’s ART Team, been lead writer on various children’s writing projects, made work for Oxford University Press, written a play as part of Curve Theatre’s WritersLab, been part of the Midnight Run team, and been working part time on a PhD in Creative Writing.
Andy has lived in Leeds since gaining 1st class honours (English and Philosophy EUROPEAN) from the University of Leeds in 2007. In the subsequent ten years running writing and performance workshops, more than 25,000 young people of all ages have so far benefited from his teaching.
As well as schools, clients include Arts Council England, The British Council, Rethink Mental Health Charity, First Story, and The Letterbox Club. He has a chapter on rhyming workshops in the book “Making Poetry Happen” (Bloomsbury, 2015).
Andy is also lead singer and rapper with his band “Middleman”. The band have played live sessions for Radio 1 (Maida Vale), 6 Music and XFM. Every song from the band’s first two albums has been synchronised (Channel 4, Channel 5, BBC). “It’s Not Over Yet” was synchronised to NBA2K11, the biggest-selling basketball video game in the world.
Andy’s School Visits
What Andy’s Day Will Entail
Andy works with young people of all ages from 4 to 18. He also runs CPD and PGCE sessions. Workshops information is split below into age groups.
Poetry Slam Day (format also designed for KS3 and KS4, but with more advanced)
An exciting writing and performance workshop designed for large groups in KS2, KS3 and KS4.
Working with up to 80 pupils at a time for full-day session or two half-day sessions, or with smaller groups in repeat one-hour sessions, Slam Poetry Day builds pupils’ confidence and makes literacy exciting and engaging, honing myriad creative writing skills in the process.
“Superb – pacey and clearly delivered. Very enjoyable and age appropriate. It was accessible to all abilities and I will steal the ideas for my future teaching of poetry!” – Miss Sally Stirrop, Rufford Park Primary School, Leeds
A Flexible Day
Timings, student numbers and precise content are all flexible. Students may take part based on criteria other than year group (disenfranchised, G&T), schools may wish to have some pupils from another year group act as judges and so on. The day is always run according to school needs, after creative consultation with staff and designed to accommodate your school’s needs.
What the workshop involves:
Pupils work in teams of roughly 6-8 to write and perform their own spoken word poems. In agreement with you, workshops can focus on a particular theme (identity, anti-bullying, transition, drugs), or on an aspect of the curriculum (Shakespeare, volcanoes, Global Warming, black-history). Alternatively, subject matter can be left open and directed by pupils’ interests, in which case Andy has plenty of suggestions for anyone who gets stuck.
• Performance: Andy begins each session with a short performance which introduces pupils to the creative power of slam poetry.
• Writing Skills: Pupils work in teams to try to beat each other in rhyme battles and to outdo each other in various writing games, including tongue twisters, never-before-heard metaphors and unconventional love poems.
• Performance Skills: Pupils practice various performance elements, building confidence and improving microphone technique, gesture, vocal delivery and more.
• Team Competition: Using the writing and performance skills they now have in their poetry toolbox, pupils write and practice their team slam poem. Each session ends with team performances, with teacher-judges choosing the winners.
• Follow On: At the end of the day teachers are given a hand out which describes the day’s activities and contains further ideas for writing exercises.
Supports the National Curriculum for English; speaking, listening, reading, writing; group discussion and interaction, understanding and utilising language variation, presenting to different audiences, responding imaginatively, learning about gesture, tone, pace and rhetorical devices, adapting speech to listeners and activity.
What will the school need to provide:
• A school hall or equivalent space large enough to seat up to 80 pupils in groups of 6-8 around tables.
• Writing materials for pupils, a flipchart/whiteboard/computer with projector on which Andy can demonstrate.
• 3 members of staff per session (2 if less than 60 pupils take part). Staff need not be English or drama teachers, all direction is easy to follow.
• A list of pupil names before each session, to be used in an introductory freestyle poem/rap.
Optional Second Day ‘Poetry Slam Masterclass’
A follow up day is available, designed for those pupils who may be disengaged or need a confidence boost. This day targets up to 12 pupils who would benefit from additional writing, performance and group working skills. Using a more intensive format, Andy builds on his initial relationship to support pupils to further enhance their skill and to add new ones like beat-boxing, rap, poly-vocal work and movement. This masterclass can be booked after the first day and Andy can support in the selection of pupils.
Poetry Factor (also Poetry Slam Day, see above under KS2)
A dynamic performance poetry programme for clusters of schools working together. Designed for KS2 and KS3.
At an in-school slam day (see Poetry Slam Day above) pupils learn to express themselves using creative and entertaining language. One or two teams of young people representing each school then further develop their performance skills at an inter-school boot camp. These teams finally perform their pieces at a separate showcase event, with professional judges and an enraptured audience of parents, friends and teachers – an X Factor for poetry!
“Absolutely incredible. The workshop was impressive from the first minute and most importantly, the kids loved it! I asked many of the students for their impressions at lunch time and to coin a phrase they were ‘mad for it’! As their Head of Year I have rarely seen so many students as engaged and happy to learn.” – Chris Holt, Head of Year 8, Wright Robinson College, Manchester
What Does Poetry Factor Do?
Poetry Factor provides school partners with a performance showcase opportunity for children that builds pupil confidence and makes literacy exciting and engaging.
How Does It Work?
1) A representative from each participating school attends a twilight planning meeting with Andy to decide on suitable dates for delivery and a venue for the performance night.
2) Each participating school in the cluster receives a slam poetry workshops day and a same-day, in-school competition. This could be for a whole year group in a high school (maximum 150 pupils) or upper KS2 pupils in a primary school.
The first day follows the same structure as the poetry slam day. Designed to engage large groups (delivery can be divided into morning and afternoon sessions for up to 75 participants) pupils are introduced to slam poetry, including a performance by Andy. Working in teams, pupils write, perform and compete against each other in various games. The workshop can be tailored to fit school or cluster priorities such as identity, crime, transition (see bottom of page), black history, or subject topics such as Shakespeare or Volcanoes. Alternatively Andy can apply a broad literacy focus. The day ends with a mutually supportive X-Factor style competition. Teachers will be given materials to support further work in school.
3) Each school then chooses two slam teams (up to 6 pupils per team) to represent their school at an inter-school slam final.
Schools are free to choose which pupils should go through to the next stage. Selection can acknowledge merit and also provides a good opportunity to target individuals with behavioural or engagement issues who can benefit from the esteem-building effects of the process.
4) The slam teams attend a boot camp day to hone their poetry writing and performance skills ready for the slam final showcase, with bonus poet!
The boot camp usually takes place on an agreed school day in a participating high school or other local venue with a large hall, but can alternatively take place on a weekend or during a holiday period. Andy brings in another professional performance poet (and sometimes two extra poets) with years of experience working in schools. Pupils work together with young people from other schools for the first half of the day and return to their school teams for the afternoon. The teams explore performance techniques, beatboxing, timing, action and expression. The emphasis is on team-working and mutual support.
5) The slam final showcase takes place in front of an invited live audience at an agreed local venue.
Andy provides a panel of poetry experts for the evening and other local judges can be incorporated. The showcase can be filmed and photographed by the school or by Andy and all sound equipment and microphones can be provided.
Summary of the Poetry Factor Programme:
• Initial planning meeting
• Full day poetry workshop in each participating school
• Full boot camp day for selected pupils from each participating school
• Poetry slam performance and competition showcase
What Will Each School Provide:
• A lead member of staff who will support the programme, including attendance at an initial briefing and planning meeting.
• A workshop space large enough to seat up to 75 pupils, in groups of 6-8, around tables. A school hall or theatre space is ideal.
• A flip chart/whiteboard and writing materials for pupils.
• A list of pupil names at the beginning of the workshop day, for Andy to use in a freestyle poem.
• 3 members of staff, or 2 if working with less than 60 pupils at a time. These do not need to be English specialists and their focus will be on encouraging student participation.
• Transport for the school slam teams to the boot camp day and slam final.
What Will The Cluster Schools Need to Provide:
• A minimum of three schools are required to participate. There is no upper limit to the number of schools taking part. With very large numbers, we run multiple boot camp days and showcase events.
• A lead member of staff working on behalf of the cluster or trust who will coordinate the initial briefing session.
Poetry Factor can be run as a transition project for a secondary school and its feeder schools. The bootcamp day and showcase event both then take place at the secondary school:
“We recently booked Andy and Dreadlockalien as part of our literacy transition work. We wanted an event that would engage pupils, especially boys, and build their confidence and enthusiasm for literacy, as well as something that would get them excited about September. The work that Andy and Dreadlockalien did with the pupils did just that!
Even year 6 pupils that were very nervous still stood up and presented, and then felt proud of their achievements afterwards. By the end of the day, all pupils had worked on key literacy skills, performance skills and group work, often without realising that they were working because they were enjoying themselves. Our pupils especially enjoyed beat boxing and rhyme wars!
“Andy and Richard were very good with the pupils – they learnt names and were very personable, upbeat, positive and warm. They were particularly good with pupils with special needs. They asked the primary staff at the start to point out any pupils with needs and made a special effort to make them feel included. As role models, they were also perfect choices for encouraging boys to engage in literacy. One boy even said on his feedback sheet that he would say to Andy and Dreadlockalien: “you are awesomely sick dudes. Thanks for showing me that poetry is fun. You guys turned this from a 1 star day to a 5 star day. I wouldn’t hesitate to book them again.” – Abi White, Crofton Academy, Wakefield
Poetry Slam Day and Poetry Factor, please see above.
Creative Writing A-Level Workshops:
Whether it’s micro fiction, short stories or poetry, these master class-style workshops develop new writing skills and sharpen old ones. Workshops can be tailored (in creative consultation with the teacher) to the particular group and helping students to produce high quality work quickly. Repeat sessions include time outside of class in which Andy will look through work and make suggestions for both editing and further writing practice specific to each student’s writing. Timings are flexible and numbers can be anything up to 30. Extra materials will be provided to teachers for further high-level work after workshops.
“There was an overwhelming positive response to Andy’s workshops. He made something that can be boring to many students in class a positive, inspiring and educational experience. It was encouraging to see their confidence and creativity enhanced through Andy’s work with them. I was amazed at the quality of work produced by students each day and their ability to express themselves through poetry.” – Rosario Martin, Gorey Community School, Ireland
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR TEACHERS:
Hold a CPD session in your school or college: half day and full day sessions are available.
The focus can be on any age group and/or on any of the workshops on this website. Sessions generally involve practical games and exercises (especially with higher-level workshops), discussion of the ideas and techniques behind the workshops, printed materials detailing what has been covered (plus electronic documents where desired), and some further ideas for workshops, relevant to the context of the session.
Reviews and Recommendations
“Really well-planned and brilliantly executed sessions including group work, games and performance. The day had a really lively tone but also clear learning objectives which Andy’s plenary showed had been met. Productive and fun!” – Paul Dhillon, Moat Community College, Leicester
“I enjoyed writing a rap and performing it in front of my friends. I liked the competition. I thought it would be boring but it was the opposite. It was AWESOME!”– Yr 9. Stockland Green School, Birmingham
“Need more of this. Brings the kids’ personalities out.” – Ann Wonnacott, West Yorkshire Playhouse
“Excellent, inspirational, empowering! It has changed our students’ attitude to poetry!” – Catherine Glover, Ringsend Technical Institute, Dublin, Ireland.
“It was ace. They were fun activities which kept everyone interested and very much amused for that matter. I liked the fact that all of the step by step activities led up to the group competition!” – Year 8 pupil, St Mary’s College, Hull
“The day was excellent. Andy had the ability to reach the children’s level instantly. He kept their interest for the whole day, combining a casual approach with efficient teaching skills. 10 out of 10.” – John Humphries Holliers Walk Primary, Hinkley
“Andy was fantastic!
The year 7/8s in particular (the more difficult year groups to engage) were really enthused and engrossed by the material Andy shared. He used and incorporated their names into example poetry which made the boys feel really involved and he didn’t shy away from some of the particularly difficult names which never usually get a mention either! The staff engaged with the material too and ended up writing their own poetry to read to the boys which went down a treat. They also commented on his great use of ICT to demonstrate the power of poetry through other means.
Year 3 and 4 workshops were aimed just right at their level of ability and focus. A comment that will stick with me from the day was “I didn’t even know I could write poetry!” said by a year 3 boy who is usually very reluctant with his writing. Listening to poetry, writing our own using the guidance Andy displayed was really helpful and the boys were extremely proud of their work as a result.
It was a fantastic day and we cannot thank Andy enough for all his hard work.”
Mrs A Lumley-Wood, Prep School Librarian at Bedford School
To Make a Booking
To make an enquiry about Andy Craven-Griffiths, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org