education.govt.nz

Writing about belonging

Issue: Volume 96, Number 5

Posted: 27 March 2017
Reference #: 1H9d74

James BalstonA piece of writing about belonging has won James Balston a Commonwealth writing prize.

The year 6 Waitakere Primary School student won the 7–10 year olds category in the Commonwealth Class Writing Competition late last year.

The theme of the entries was ‘A sense of belonging,’ and more than 3,000 stories were submitted from Commonwealth countries all around the world.

James’ story was inspired by his love of swimming, Hector’s dolphins and tuatara.

“I like swimming – in pools, rivers and the sea,” he says. “So I wrote about water and swimming in my story, and also I love animals, so I was thinking about what animal I would be if I wasn’t a human – I would be a Hector’s dolphin.”

A keen reader, James says the prize included a set of books for his school and a book voucher for himself.

“I’ve always been interested in writing, but I don’t spend all my time doing it,” he says. “Mostly I love reading books, especially fantasy books.”

James’ favourite authors include JK Rowling, Rick Riordan and Jonathan Stroud.

“I like writing at school, because we can be free in what we write – last time our teacher gave us a picture of autumn leaves and a pair of boots – and I turned that prompt into a horror story.”

Waitakere Primary School principal Denise Haven says creative writing is a special focus at the school, with a lunchtime writing group for budding authors and writing extension groups within class time being set up.

She first read about the competition in the notices section of Education Gazette, and asked members of the school’s writing group if they’d like to enter.

“When I saw the notice, we only had a few days before the deadline, but when the children are passionate about writing, timeframes don’t matter,” she laughs.

Denise says James’ story was special because it was so unique.

“It really has his personal voice there – you can really hear him in the piece."

“James’ win is exciting for our school, and it seems to have lit a fire in some other students too.”

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 8:08 pm, 27 March 2017

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