Author inspires young minds

Posted: 7th October 2021

Upper II and Form III meet author Catherine Bruton.

On Monday 27th September Upper II and Form III spent the morning with Ms Catherine Bruton, author of ‘No Ballet Shoes in Syria’, the story of an 11-year-old refugee girl from Syria who comes to Britain, seeking asylum.  Ms Bruton spoke about the inspiration behind the book, read extracts from it, shared her tips with us about what makes a great writer, how to get started with writing and using objects as inspiration for writing, developing characters and plots.  Upper II wrote their own introductions for a story using her techniques and were inspired to go and start writing their own novels and were instructed to write for three minutes without putting their pens or pencils down, whatever came out!  Ms Bruton helped unlock their imaginations to produce high quality descriptive writing.  As one of the teachers commented, ‘Miss Keane, Mrs Cattigan and Miss Carroll picked up some writing tips too and had their creativity sparked’.


Miss Trybuchowska, Head of History, adds, ‘’No Ballet Shoes in Syria’ tells the story of Aya and her family, who arrive in the UK, seeking asylum from Syria’s civil war. This ties in with the enrichment project currently underway in Form III in which they examine the experiences of different groups of refugees or migrants to the UK, both historical and current, with a view to preparing a presentation, either on the experience of others or on the experiences of their own families or ancestors.

Reading from her novel, Catherine Bruton’s workshop involved a whistle stop tour of the process of creating a compelling story, using five objects or ‘ingredients.’ She stressed that in order to hook the reader, there need to be obstacles which prevent the protagonist from achieving their dreams, however much you would like them to. One of the objects she showed to the girls was a pair of ballet shoes, which symbolised Aya’s desire to train to be a professional ballet dancer at one of the best ballet schools in the country. As there was no guarantee that Aya and her family would be granted asylum, auditioning for and being accepted at a ballet school seems to be just out of her grasp.’

We would like to thank Catherine Bruton for coming to St Augustine’s Priory and inspiring our already budding creative writers still further.

Lena in Upper II commented, ‘It was really fun and I enjoyed seeing how a real author writes’

And here is a taster from one of our pupils’ stories, that of Ariane in Upper II:  ‘Ella stared at the blue, sparkling water, and felt as if nothing was as it should be. Her Dad moving all the time, her Mum working five jobs in the Devon village, and her brother, who was not there anymore. She picked up a seashell and threw it into the sea. She wanted to go back to England. And she wanted her brother back, but she knew that was impossible. “Hello!” said a boy, “I’m Anthony, and you must be Ella.” He held out a long, bony hand, and Ella tentatively took it.’

Categories: Junior Priory Post Senior Whole School