“Dear Mr Durant, Thank you for coming to our school. I enjoyed it very much. I liked the bit when we made up the story. When I grow up I want to be an author too. Me and my friend Henry thought your stories and poems were very amusing and great. Please come again!!!” Thomas Wilkinson, Class 4d, Holland Park Primary, Clacton, Essex
"Alan Durant was one of our most successful visiting authors ever, and greatly inspired and connected with the pupils. I have no doubt he left our pupils wanting to read more, which is crucial to their language development." Michael Higgins, Headteacher, Cairo British International School
I'm an award-winning author of over a hundred books for children of all ages. My aim is to entertain, enthuse and inspire. I see myself as a reading and writing motivator and facilitator.
I visit primary and secondary schools throughout the UK and abroad (including schools in Jakarta, Cairo, Doha, Dubai, Stuttgart, Lagos, Cape Town, Brunei, the Philippines, Budapest and Eire). I am unusual in that I write across the age-ranges and on all kinds of subjects from fairies to football, so I can work with children at any stage in their school life, from nursery to GCSE. My sessions are usually writing workshops (on poetry or prose) or a mixture of a talk about writing with readings from my work, followed by questions and answers. I also run writing workshops for adults through The Guardian and Penguin Random House (and I run my own writing for children courses in Brighton and northern France each year - see my website for details) and writing insets for teachers. I am also an acredited practitioner of the Able Writers programme (run by Authors Abroad). I have public liability insurance and an up-to-date Enhanced Disclosure, and am a member of NAWE (National Association of Writers in Education).
My main focus is on writing from real life experiences and interests – whatever the genre explored - and I believe passionately in the importance of writing as self-expression. In recent years I’ve created jungle stories with reception children, garden poems with Years 1 and 2, modern fairy-tales with a mixed age group, tales in different genres, and lots more. I’ve developed a Jibber Jabber Storyteller writing exercise, based on the popular “chatterbox” or “fortune teller” origami device, that has a range of applications and has proved very successful. I’m very flexible about the projects I undertake. I’m not a teacher. I try to help and enthuse children in their writing through sharing with them some of the strategies and techniques that I use in my own writing.
Over the past few years I have gained a particular reputation, I suppose, as a motivator of reluctant boy readers and writers and I do like working with boys - but my stories and poems have plenty of elements that appeal to girls too and I am equally happy working in a mixed environment. The most important thing, it seems to me, with any writing project is that it should be fun and inspirational for everyone involved.
I charge £400 a day plus expenses (travel mainly – I live in Brighton). Starting at 9.30, I am willing to do up to four sessions in a day (five if a short session with Reception/Nursery is included). I like to begin with an assembly (or two – one Key Stage 1, one Key Stage 2) of around 30 minutes to introduce myself and my work to the whole school. Writing workshops require at least an hour, and, for Year 5 plus, an hour and a half ideally. I am happy to work for a single day or a whole week or over a number of phased visits. Basically, I’m open to any suggestion!
Some feedback from my work with children in schools and elsewhere:
"Your assemblies and workshops were pitched perfectly for each year group from Foundation Stage to Year Six. We have had lots of positive feedback from parents and staff. You are a hard act to follow! We wish you well in all future endeavours and I very much look forward to working with you again.” Lorraine Stevens, Literacy Coordinator, British International School Cairo
“The children thoroughly enjoyed your visit. We all felt that the children got a lot out of it. They loved the kind of books you write and your humour in particular. We felt it really helped to raise the profile of boys' writing within our school.” Anna Ravenscroft, Excalibur School, Stoke
“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for Monday. We’ve had lots of positive feedback and had several children in the library on Monday evening talking about you! I was really impressed with how well they had listened to what you had said. I think you should rethink your strategy and go in for ‘Inspirational & Motivational Workshops’! Even I feel I could write something!” Ros Fernley, Team Leader, Wargrave Library
“Just wanted to send a quick email to send our utmost gratitude for the work that you did with our children on Wednesday. The children are all buzzing from working with you and I think it has really inspired them. Many of my children are keeping their own notebooks of ideas now.“ James Lacey, Literacy Coordinator, Harmans Water Primary School, Berkshire
"We would like to express our huge thanks and gratitude to you for the inspiration you have given to our son during this past week. You have made such an impression on him with your creative writing ideas. He has gone from a child who would write the bare minimum to a very mature child who now does not want to stop writing. Within a week you have helped him become so confident." Gail, mother of a child attending a week's writing course at Bishop Challoner School, Tower Hamlets
“Every child was thrilled that they were able to work with you in a workshop session. All of the children loved reading and sharing your books and each class has produced some great work based on them. It was a fantastic way to celebrate Book Week.” Rebecca Halls, Literacy Subject leader, Kendall C E Primary School, Colchester
“The children enjoyed listening to your poems and stories and to your funny tales about how you get your ideas for your books. They have been inspired by your visit and have been telling me how much they enjoyed meeting you. Many thanks for such an enjoyable day.” Sue Greenbank, Headteacher, Underwood West Primary School, Crewe
“It was a great week and thanks for all your work and for coming. It was lovely, Alan, and the kids were all really touched. I just wanted you to know that you're great.” Janet Smyth, Pushkin Prize Administrator on a week’s writing residency with Scottish and Russian teenagers at Moniak Mhor, Scotland
“Dear Alan Durant, We were happy you came to see us. You made us laugh. We liked listening to your poems. It was fun when you waved your arms about and spoke loudly. We thought it was strange to smell a book, but we might try it for ourselves.” Owen Oddy (8) and James Hoy (9) of Winhills Primary School, St Neots, Cambridgeshire