Many pupils approaching the end of secondary school are concerned about the transition to university, college or work. In particular, they worry that academic and other formal writing is difficult. The Bridge project was conceived by Katie Grant to address this. In 2014 the RLF set up a pilot scheme in association with Education Scotland that placed writers in ten schools to give workshops to pupils to help them bridge the gap between school and university writing. Following the success of the pilot, the RLF extended the scheme; we have now worked with nearly 80 partner schools across Scotland.
RLF Bridge workshops are designed to help pupils overcome anxiety about writing and prepare them to face upcoming challenges. All RLF Bridge Fellows are professional writers who have been RLF Writing Fellows in universities, working one-to-one with students to develop their essay writing.
The Bridge is free for schools. It is fully funded by the RLF as part of their educational remit.
If your school is interested in Bridge sessions, please contact Laura Hird at:
- to share techniques which all pupils can use to develop their practical writing skills.
- to introduce and review terms used in academic writing.
- to give pupils a forum to share, without any pressure, concerns they may have about writing.
- to address general issues with writing as well as grammar, punctuation, style and essay planning.
- to help pupils make the transition from writing at school to more advanced writing.
How does it work?
- the RLF Bridge Fellow meets teachers ahead of the Bridge to discuss the workshops.
- the workshops are arranged as 5 x 50 minute sessions, or 4 x 50 minute sessions. There is flexibility over timetabling, for example one 50 minute workshop every week for five weeks or two double periods in consecutive weeks, 4 workshops overall. Get in touch to discuss options.
- pupils taking part are from S5 and/or S6. They can be of varying abilities and studying different subjects and can include those still undecided about university.
- the workshops are highly interactive, so groups should be no more than 16 pupils, ideally fewer. Larger groups of pupils can be divided up between more than one RLF Bridge Fellow, e.g. four RLF Bridge Fellows for 60 pupils
- the RLF Bridge Fellow emails the Bridge toolkit to the school and the school prints one workbook for each pupil. At the end the pupils keep their toolkits.
A 5-session Bridge includes:
- purpose of different writing styles
- difference between academic and reflective writing
- breaking down essay titles
- key instruction terms in essay titles and what they mean
- essay flow
- paragraph plans
- critical thinking
- introductions and conclusions
- the three stage of writing: drafting, editing, proof-reading
Where we have worked
LEAPS works in partnership with the RLF Bridge on a number of projects, for example our Academic Skills provision for senior school students, and our Personal Statement writing workshop.
Geoff Barker has written about 50 published non-fiction books, but he also loves to create children's stories. He lives in the East Neuk of Fife and has delivered Bridge workshops to local schools since January 2016, although he also travels as far as Arbroath and Blairgowrie. Geoff's varied workshops focus on key aspects of academic writing: different styles for different audiences, clarity, critical thinking and editing. His interactive, imaginative activities and informal style mean that these sessions really engage his pupils. He helps them develop the necessary skills to deal with future college and university assignments, so they can feel much more confident about their writing.
Meaghan Delahunt is a novelist and short story writer. Between 2017-2019 she was the RLF Fellow at the University of Dundee and at Queen Margaret University. Prior to this she worked for over a decade as a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of St Andrews and at the University of Stirling. She also has a background in youth work and enjoys helping young people to gain confidence and to demystify the academic process. She has led writing workshops in the UK, Australia, Europe and India. She has been involved with the Bridge Project since 2018. Born in Melbourne, she has lived in Edinburgh since 1992.
Bashabi Fraser is a poet, children's writer, critic and editor. She has worked nationally and internationally in writing residencies and on creative writing projects and taught creative writing as a professor at Edinburgh Napier University. Her prizes include Word Masala Foundation Award for Excellence in Poetry (2017) and Outstanding Woman of Scotland, (Saltire Society, 2015). She is widely published and is Editor-in-Chief of Gitanjali and Beyond. Bashabi is Honorary Vice President of the Association of Scottish Literary Studies (ASLS), executive committee member of Scottish PEN, Writers at Risk Committee and Poetry Association of Scotland. Having enjoyed being involved with the pilot scheme, Bashabi rejoined Bridge and was recently part of a team of 4 Fellows delivering sessions at Prestwick Academy.
Valerie Gillies has published nine collections of poetry and one book of non-fiction. Her most recent volume, The Cream of the Well: New and Selected Poems, was shortlisted for the Saltire Award in 2016. She is a former Edinburgh Makar, poet laureate to the city. Valerie was a Royal Literary Fellow at Queen Margaret University for two years. She has been Creative Writing Fellow at the University of Edinburgh for several years and was an Associate of Harvard University in 2014 – 2015. She has delivered writing sessions for BRIDGE at the LEAPS Summer School for the past two years and most recently at Boroughmuir High School.
Helen Grant writes Gothic novels and ghost stories. From 2016 to 2019 she was the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Stirling. She has worked with a diverse range of students from first year undergraduates to postgraduates, ESL and mature students. Her experiences of offering coaching in academic writing and seeing at first hand the benefits to the students led to her joining the Bridge project. She has run Bridge workshops at Prestwick Academy as part of a team working with a large group of students. She also took part in the 2018 LEAPS personal statement day. Helen is based in Perthshire but is happy to travel within Scotland to deliver Bridge workshops.
Katie Grant’s expertise at helping young people develop their writing skills is forged through her experience as a novelist, journalist and co-creator of the academic writing website at the University of Glasgow. A co-founder of the Bridge, which amongst other things aims to demystify the term ‘academic writing’, she offers not just practical advice but valuable techniques to overcome the writing problems we all face when moving to university, college or the workplace. She was the Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at the University of Glasgow for three years and has run Bridge workshops in schools across the west of Scotland, including Springburn Academy and the Glasgow Academy.
An award-winning writer and former RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University from 2008-11, Laura joined the Bridge in 2016. The first member of her family to attend university, she enjoys helping pupils feel more confident about their writing and therefore better equipped to face the same daunting jump in expectations that she did. Through Bridge, she has run workshops in schools in Islay, Ayrshire, the Borders and throughout Edinburgh and been involved with LEAPS Summer School and personal statement writing days. In 2017, she followed Bill Kirton as coordinator of Bridge. With the inspiration and support of the team and the RLF, she hopes to encourage more schools to take advantage of this vital, forward-looking project.
Doug Johnstone is the author of eight novels and a dozen short stories. He lives in Edinburgh and has run Bridge workshops in schools across the city for the last three years, ranging from Portobello and Holy Rood to schools such as Stewart’s Melville and St George’s. Doug was the Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at Queen Margaret University from 2014 to 2016; he has also worked there as a Consultant Fellow. He has a PhD in nuclear physics and a diploma in journalism, and he continues to work as an arts journalist and creative writing tutor.
Bill Kirton has written short stories, radio and stage plays, novels, and non-fiction books on writing, studying and workplace skills. He was a lecturer in the French Department at Aberdeen University and, after taking early retirement, became an RLF Writing Fellow at the Robert Gordon University and the universities of Dundee and St Andrews. With Katie Grant, he was the co-ordinator of the Bridge from 2014 to 2017 and has been a Bridge Fellow in schools in Dundee, Stonehaven, Aberdeen, Ellon, and Kirkwall. He was instrumental in setting up the Bridge’s very successful annual collaboration with the organisers of the LEAPS Summer School.
Gordon Meade is a Scottish poet and creative writing tutor based in the East Neuk of Fife. He has also been, at various times, the creative-writing fellow at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and the writer-in-residence for Dundee District Libraries.His ninth collection of poems, The Year of the Crab, a poetic exploration of his diagnosis and early treatment of cancer, was published in 2017 by Cultured Llama Publishing in Kent. A Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at the University of Dundee in 2008/10 and 2011/12, he has been involved in the Bridge Project since 2016, working with pupils from Kirkland, Buckhaven and Viewforth High Schools and Levenmouth Academy.
Award-winning poet Donny O’Rourke has worked as teacher, mentor and facilitator in almost every sort of educational setting: Cambridge University and Glasgow School of Art, hospitals, community groups, blue chip companies, and, of course, schools. Pupils in his Bridge sessions can benefit from the breadth and depth of his professional experience as a journalist, broadcaster, film maker and television executive. He seeks to create an atmosphere for individual inquiry and collective reflection exactly as he does with his own first year undergraduates to encourage young people in schools to write with concision and precision, persuasiveness and authority. The first member of his family to attend university, he obtained degrees from Glasgow and Cambridge.
Cynthia Rogerson delivers Bridge workshops to schools in the north of Scotland, including Fortrose, Dingwall and Aboyne Academies and Anderson, Portree and Gairloch High Schools. Her informal sessions focus on improving confidence in all aspects of essay writing, building an argument and the art of editing. She enjoys helping young writers find the best way to communicate clearly and effectively and while the emphasis is on bridging the gap between school and university, her sessions can be helpful to all students, including those who are bound for further education or employment. The author of five novels and collection of stories, her work has been translated into six languages, won the V.S.Pritchett Prize and been adapted for BBC radio.
Cherise Saywell is a novelist and short-story writer. She was the RLF Writing Fellow at Stirling University from 2014 to 2016 and is now at Strathclyde University, where she offers individual consultations with students who want to improve their academic writing. As an RLF Consultant Fellow, Cherise facilitates writing workshops for postgraduates in universities around Scotland. She has been working as part of the Bridge team since 2016 and has run the programme at numerous schools around Edinburgh, including Broughton, Drummond, James Gillespie’s, St Augustine’s, Forrester, Portobello and Edinburgh Academy. She has also been involved with RLF contributions to the LEAPS summer schools and personal statement days. Her sessions are tailored to help students of all abilities.
Described in The Irish Times as ‘one of our foremost writers for young people’, novelist Sheena Wilkinson has won five Children’s Books Ireland awards, including the Book of the Year Award for Grounded (2012), and most recently the Honour Award for Fiction for Star By Star (2017). In 2012 Sheena was granted a Major Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. She was writer-in-residence at the Church of Ireland College of Education, and Ireland’s first patron of reading. She tutors for Arvon and teaches creative writing in a wide range of settings. She was RLF Writing Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast from 2015-2018, and has piloted the RLF Bridge project in Northern Irish schools.