New literacy project to benefit Shropshire’s small rural schools

A new project aimed at enhancing literacy skills and creativity among primary pupils is to be delivered in some of Shropshire’s smallest most rural schools.

The Rural Schools Write, Read and Inspire Project has been developed by county author Lorna McCann in partnership with The Rural Charity - an offshoot of the Shropshire & West Midlands Agricultural Society.

The aim of the initiative is to support literacy education in small rural schools by providing an opportunity for Key Stage 1 pupils to meet a real-life author and experience creative workshops linked to books and storytelling.

The project will also support the creative work of independent authors like Lorna, with the week-long programme designed to coincide with Indie Author Week UK, which runs from June 9 to June 16.

As part of the project, Lorna - Amazon bestselling author of ‘Wendy and the Biscuit Tree’ and ‘Felix - the small boy with a BIG imagination’ - will deliver an author talk and creative workshop in five different rural schools across the county.


Pupils will get to learn about Lorna’s writing career from journalist to children’s author, enjoy a storytelling session and learn about the processes involved with writing and publishing a book in a fun and engaging way. Mum of two Lorna will also share some of her top writing tips with pupils.

The initiative is being fully funded by The Rural Charity - an offshoot of the Shropshire and West Midlands Agricultural Society - and rural schools interested in being involved are invited to apply for a place on the programme before the May 18 deadline.

There are five places available and sessions in the selected schools will run from Monday, June 11, through to Friday, June 15. Lorna, who is supported by independent publisher Team Author UK, will visit a different school each day and the author talk and workshop will last approximately two hours.

To be eligible for the scheme, schools must have less than 80 pupils on the school register and have not received an author visit within the last two years. As part of their application schools must also state why they feel an author visit and workshop would benefit pupils.

Lorna, 37, from Childs Ercall, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have teamed up with The Rural Charity to deliver this very exciting initiative during Indie Author Week UK.

“It’s hoped the project will enhance literacy and creative skills among children in our small, rural schools by providing opportunities and experiences which might not otherwise be accessible due to funding limitations.

“It will build on the work I have been doing in other schools throughout Shropshire over the last two years to inspire a love of reading and writing among young children and is in line with the society’s aims to support rural communities.

“We can’t wait to hear from schools who are interested in being involved - it’s going to be a jam-packed week of fun with storytelling and workshops.”

The Rural Charity, which is based at the Greenhous West Mid Showground in Shrewsbury, was formed by bosses at the society two years ago when it took over the operation of charity shops in Shrewsbury, Oswestry and Wem.

Proceeds from the shops go to supporting the agricultural and rural community with the aim of making a difference to people’s lives.

To date, the charity has supported numerous community initiatives and supported schemes such as the National Young Farmer’s organisation and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution.

Chief Executive Ian Bebbington said he was excited about the latest funding project which would bring educational benefits to primary pupils.

He said: “We are really chuffed to be working with Lorna to deliver this new literacy project in June. The Rural Schools Write, Read, Inspire Project is a fabulous initiative and exactly the sort of thing we should be funding to support children and education in our rural communities.

“Literacy is high on the agenda in all schools but particularly at primary level and an author visit can bring so many benefits to pupils including improving literacy, inspiring reluctant readers, building confidence and broadening knowledge of literacy.

“However, with shrinking school budgets and an often limited pool of parents to source funds from it’s difficult for many small, rural schools to find the cash to pay for such experiences.

“This fully-funded project means five schools will be able to access a visit from Shropshire-based author Lorna without any costs and we are really delighted to be involved.”

Schools interested in applying for a place on the project should email their application to [email protected] with the subject line ‘The Rural Schools Write, Read, Inspire Project’ by no later than May 18.

Applications must come from schools directly and include details of current pupil roll and information on why schools feel pupils will benefit from an author visit. Successful schools must be available for an author visit during the week beginning June 11.

For further details about the project visit the website More details on The Rural Charity and its work can be found on Facebook at