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The Bridge is a series of workshops that help senior pupils develop their writing, as well as prepare for the challenges of more academic or formal writing at university, college or work. Conceived by Consultant Fellow Katie Grant, and developed and funded by the RLF, the workshops are run by experienced professional writers who have worked with students in universities as RLF Writing Fellows. Over 200 schools across the UK have already benefited and RLF Bridge Fellows have also worked in partnership with the British Library, National Library of Scotland and LEAPS.

The workshops are designed to demystify the writing process and provide techniques to help pupils write clearly and confidently in all contexts and situations. 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.

They consist of 4 x 50 minute sessions and there is no cost to schools: the workshops are fully funded by the RLF as part of its educational remit.

If your school is interested in Bridge sessions, please contact:
Laura Hird (Scotland and Northern Ireland)
[email protected]
Karin Altenberg (England and Wales)
[email protected]

Key objectives

  • 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 boost pupils’ confidence in their ability to write well.

How does it work?

  • the RLF Bridge Fellow consults teachers ahead of the Bridge to discuss the workshops and agree timetabling and modes of delivery.
  • pupils taking part are from S5/Y12 and/or S6/Y13. 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 supplies all materials to be used online/ in class, and the pupils keep their toolkits afterwards.

What is covered?

  • the purpose of different writing styles
  • breaking down essay titles
  • key instruction terms in essay titles and what they mean
  • essay flow
  • paragraph plans
  • evidence
  • critical thinking
  • introductions and conclusions
  • the three stage of writing: drafting, editing, proof-reading

Bridge Fellows

Paul Adam
Paul Adam has written 13 novels for adults and an award-winning trilogy for children, as well as film and television scripts. From 2019 to 2021 he was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Sheffield, helping science students with their academic writing. He has delivered a number of Bridge workshops, both online and face-to-face, most recently at schools in Liverpool, Wellingborough and Nottingham. A former journalist, he has a degree in law and a CELTA qualification in teaching English to speakers of other languages. He has taught individuals and groups and done voluntary work teaching English to refugees.
Dipo Agboluaje
Oladipo ‘Dipo’ Agboluaje is a playwright, university tutor, dramaturg and creative writing workshop facilitator. He was the 2018/19 Writer in Residence of the National Theatre a fellow of the International Research Centre, Freie University, Berlin. He has worked as a Teaching Assistant at Westminster Academy. He has worked with several youth theatre companies as a writer and as a workshop leader such as Theatre Centre, Polka Theatre, Tutti Frutti and Unicorn Theatre. He has written several plays for young people, including Immune, Giant Killers, God is a DJ, and Knock Against My Heart.
Karin Altenberg
Originally from Sweden, Karin is a novelist, critic and translator. She holds a PhD in Archaeology and her experience as a novelist and academic writer – and of living within two languages – influenced her work as a RLF Fellow at Brunel University, particularly in understanding the writing development of students with more than one language. Karin joined the Bridge in 2019 and recognises that supporting students in becoming more confident writers is a way to enhance their experience of life after school. Karin is the Bridge coordinator for England and, together with her colleagues, she hopes to encourage more schools and students to benefit from the opportunities brought by the project.
Sarah Ardizzone
Sarah Ardizzone is a literary translator from the French. Her translations include graphic novels, books for children and young adults, hip-hop lyrics and film scripts. Brussels-born and Brixton-based, Sarah is passionate about making diverse voices heard. Co-founder of Translators in Schools, she is also a mentor on the National Centre for Writing's Emerging Translators Scheme and has thirty years of experience in delivering workshops. From 2017-19, she was the RLF Writing Fellow at the Centre for Doctoral Studies, King’s College, London. Since 2019, Sarah has delivered the RLF Bridge at the British Library and in schools around London, the south of England and the Midlands.
Geoff Barker
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.
Michael Bird
Michael Bird has written fifteen books about art and history; he broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio, and has organised exhibitions in the UK and the Netherlands. He began his career as an English teacher, then worked in publishing and as a writer for museums and galleries. Michael’s books include This is Tomorrow: 20th-century Britain and its Artists, 100 Ideas that Changed Art and The St Ives Artists: A Biography of Place and Time. His children’s history of art, Vincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories, has been translated into 20 languages. In 2018–21, Michael was RLF Fellow at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus. Since 2022, he has given Bridge workshops in London and Cornwall, where he lives.
Tessa Boase
Tessa started her writing career in national newspapers as a commissioning editor and journalist, unlearning everything she’d learned as an English Literature graduate (or so it felt at first). Newspapers proved to be the best possible training ground for rigorous, pithy writing. Today, as a social historian, she uses those journalistic skills to turn her research into highly readable narrative non-fiction, and is the author of three books. Tessa has worked as a RLF Writing Fellow at Sussex University for two years, encouraging students to find their own voice while never losing sight of structure and clarity. A lively communicator and warm-mannered teacher, Tessa has run many writing workshops with young people. She lives with her teenage children on the Sussex coast. 
Penny Boxall
Penny Boxall is a poet and children’s writer. She won the 2016 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award (Scotland’s largest poetry prize) for her debut collection, Ship of the Line. She held RLF Fellowships at the Universities of York and Cambridge (Lucy Cavendish College), and was Visiting Research Fellow in the Creative Arts at Merton College, Oxford (2019). She enjoys finding new and surprising ways to communicate ideas, particularly through collaboration. ‘Replaying the Tape’, her work with palaeontologist Dr Frankie Dunn and composer-percussionist Dr Jane Boxall, explores the role of chance in evolution. She is working on projects for Tartu and Bodø, both 2024 European Capitals of Culture, variously exploring bogland, folklore, and how soil archives history. She is writer-in-residence at Wytham Woods, University of Oxford.
Caroline Brothers
Born in Australia, Caroline is a novelist, journalist and nonfiction writer whose books have been studied in schools and adapted for the stage and screen. She has a PhD in history and has worked as a staff reporter in Europe and Latin America, writing news reports and an award-winning novel, Hinterland, about refugee children alone on the road. Having tutored students at the University of Westminster, and delivered workshops for Bridge, she is a passionate believer in good writing as a life skill that will give school pupils an edge, and facilitate achievement in all aspects of their lives beyond school.
Deborah Chancellor
Deborah Chancellor is a prolific writer of children’s fiction and non-fiction on a wide range of subjects. She first trained as a primary teacher before becoming a children’s book editor and author; she likes to appear at literary festivals and run writing workshops for children and young people. Deborah now juggles her time between a busy writing and editing career and working in a Sixth Form library. She has worked as the RLF Writing Fellow at the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University, giving writing tutorials to undergraduates and post-graduates. She loves helping young people see potential in their writing and gain confidence and enthusiasm for their work.
Jane Draycott
Jane Draycott's work includes seven collections of poetry and poetic translation,including a contemporary verse translation of the medieval elegy Pearl. Her work has been awarded the Keats Shelley Prize, The Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine, and nominations for the Forward and T S Eliot prizes. A trained teacher who finds working as part of the Bridge team highly rewarding, she has been a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Brookes, Aston and Royal Holloway universities, supporting students from a wide range of backgrounds across a broad variety of subjects and individual interests.
Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards is the author of two poetry collections, and his work has received or been shortlisted for a range of awards, including the Costa Poetry Award, the Wales Book of the Year, the Forward Prize and the Troubadour Prize. A secondary school teacher for more than a decade and an experienced GCSE examiner, he has judged the Foyle Young Poets Award and led writing courses for young people for the Arvon Foundation and Literature Wales. He was RLF Fellow at Cardiff University from 2020-3, and loves seeing how developing clearer writing skills can help students develop their thinking and their confidence.
Susan Elliot Wright
Susan Elliot Wright is the bestselling author of five novels, six non-fiction books, and four health education books for 12 to 16-year-olds. She was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Sheffield University from 2019-2021 and has delivered a number of Bridge workshops, both online and face-to-face, most recently at Abbeyfield school in Northampton and Belvedere Academy in Liverpool. She also delivers writing workshops for the RLF in the social sector. Susan is passionate about helping young people to feel confident and empowered as they develop writing skills that allow them to communicate unequivocally, not only at school and university, but in the workplace and beyond.
Lisa Evans
Lisa Evans is an award winning playwright working across stage, tv and radio. She has enjoyed working as an RLF Fellow at Brunel, St Mary’s and the University of West London, helping students at all levels with all aspects of academic writing, but has felt particular sympathy for first year undergraduates facing the daunting expectations of this new environment. Working on the Bridge project allows her to share her enthusiasm for the ongoing process of writing development with students across the curriculum, empowering them with practical advice and valuable techniques to overcome the writing anxieties everyone encounters when moving from school to work, college or university and to enjoy getting their ideas across effectively.
Bashabi Fraser
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.
James Friel
James Friel has authored five novels and dramatised works by Ishiguro, Iris Murdoch, Balzac, William Faulkner, Charlotte Bronte and Orhan Pamuk for BBC Radio 3 and 4. His shorter fiction has been published internationally, and his work awarded a Betty Trask prize, an Authors’ Foundation grant, Arts Council bursaries and been shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys prize. He was Programme Leader for the MA Writing at Liverpool John Moores University and external examiner at the universities of East Anglia and Greenwich. He has been the visiting writer at l’Université de Rouen and has tutored for the Arvon Foundation, Tŷ Newydd, and the Art of Writing courses in Italy.
Valerie Gillies
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
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
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.
Penny Hancock
Penny Hancock is a bestselling novelist and freelance writer. Previously she worked as a primary school teacher in inner London, and a teacher of English as another language both here (working with asylum seekers and refugees) and abroad. She has created a number of best-selling text-books for children learning English as another Language as well as readers for Cambridge University Press. Penny did an MA in creative writing in her forties that gave her insight into the challenges facing students when writing academically. She worked as the Royal Literary Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge and loved helping students from a diverse range of backgrounds, often with more than one language, to gain confidence in their own writing, and believes that everyone can discover a joy in writing.
Laura Hird
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 in Scotland. 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.
Christina Hopkinson
Christina Hopkinson the author of five novels, two non-fiction books and countless articles for publications including The Guardian, The Times and The Telegraph. Between 2017 and 2020, she was the RLF Fellow at the London College of Fashion. She has a deep personal interest in education, with three secondary-school aged children and having volunteered as a literacy helper and chair of fundraising at their north London primary school. Previously, she has worked as a teacher both in the UK and in Spain, in children’s publishing and in launching websites for newspapers. She is thrilled to be joining the Bridge and only wishes she’d been able to benefit from something similar at school.
Robert Hudson
Robert Hudson is an award-winning dramatist, comedy writer and novelist. Working in these different fields, as well as in schools, universities, scientific laboratories and blue-chip companies, has taught him how pervasively people’s lives are affected by how they write. Pupils in his sessions will benefit from his long experience of guided group work and positive collaboration. Everything we write, from an essay to an email to a university application to a piece of stand-up, is written for a specific reason. Understanding why we are writing something, who we writing for, and how to do it clearly, are vital and transformative life skills. He loves it when pupils realise this.
Zoe Howe
Zoë Howe is a prolific author, rock biographer, editor and broadcaster. Most often associated with work celebrating female punk rock artists, Zoë was part of the team behind award-winning documentary Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché, and her 2009 non-fiction debut Typical Girls? The Story of the Slits broke ground, being the first full-scale biography of a female/female-fronted band. Zoë has spoken at colleges and universities across the UK on music journalism skills, and her RLF Fellowship has seen her working with students at Newnham and Selwyn Colleges, University of Cambridge. Zoë is also a visual artist and plays the drums.
Inbali Iserles
Inbali Iserles is an award-winning author of children’s books. A fascination with urban foxes inspired her popular Foxcraft trilogy, which has been translated into multiple languages. Inbali has written for the New York Times bestselling Survivors series under the pseudonym Erin Hunter. She also writes non-fiction books for younger readers on subjects as diverse as undersea volcanoes and the domestication of cats. She has penned articles and reviews for a range of publications including the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday and Mslexia. She was a writing fellow of the Royal Literary Fund at the Department of Earth Sciences, the University of Cambridge, from 2020 to 2022.
Doug Johnstone
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.
Nicolette Jones
Nicolette Jones is an award-winning writer and critic who has written non-fiction for adults and innumerable newspaper articles, and compiled anthologies for young people. For more than two decades she has reviewed the children’s books for The Sunday Times, and is experienced at judging book prizes (from the Women’s Prize to the Empathy Lab selection) and at programming and chairing public events for both young people and adults. Her own track record of academic writing includes studying at Oxford, and on a graduate fellowship at Yale, and she has helped undergraduates and graduates with their writing as a RLF Fellow at University College London and King’s College London.
Marianne Kavanagh
Marianne Kavanagh is a journalist and author. She worked for many years for national newspapers and magazines – as a commissioning editor, production editor and freelance features writer – before turning to fiction, and has now published four novels. Her interest in education led her to run a successful campaign in south-east London for a new state secondary school, where she became chair of governors. She was a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at Goldsmiths University from 2020 to 2022 and loved helping students at all levels – from pre-university courses to PhDs – with their academic writing, concentrating on communication, clarity and structure.
Sally Kindberg
Sally Kindberg is the author/illustrator of more than thirty children’s books, the illustrator of many more, and was a freelance travel writer and newspaper columnist, which led to her sailing on a tall ship to Lisbon amongst other adventures. She was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at City & Guilds School of Art from 2018 - 2020. Sally is also a comic strip artist and runs a variety of workshops for all ages. She is currently working on a graphic mystery/memoir and is curator of a small travelling Museum of Dust, whose journey is accompanied by stories about the collection.
Amber Lee Dodd
Amber Lee Dodd is an award-winning children’s author and short-story writer. Her work includes the critically acclaimed novels We Are Giants, Lightning Chase Me Home and The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley. Recently Amber was a RLF Fellow at the University of Glasgow and worked as an associate artist with Moat Brae, the national centre of children’s literature. Amber teaches writing across the UK; she has guest lectured at the University of Chichester and the Oxford Prep Programme. She also speaks at schools and festivals about how her struggle with dyslexia led to her writing career. This has fuelled her passion to make writing and literature accessible to all.
Paul Mason
Paul is a children's writer with a sideline as a professional swimming coach. He believes writing skills and sports skills are analogous, in that most of us have to be taught them, step by step. Better writing, like better breaststroke, is produced using skills almost anyone can learn. Paul has been an English teacher, an editor and publisher of children's books, and from 2018–2022 the RLF Fellow at the University of Chichester. As a writer, his publications include the internationally infamous The Poo That Animals Do and the modestly titled How To Save The Planet Before Bedtime. Paul's books have twice been shortlisted for English Association awards.
Stephen Mollett
Stephen Mollett is a dramatist and fiction writer. He has written numerous audio plays for BBC Radio 4 in a variety of genres, and episodes of the BBC1 drama series 'Doctors'. He taught drama in school for a year and his theatre play for young people was performed on tour by the Oxford Stage Company. Stephen was co-centre director of the Arvon Foundation in Devon and has tutored on Arvon courses himself. He has supported and inspired young people’s writing both as senior lecturer in creative writing at Bath Spa and Chichester universities over 20 years and as an RLF Fellow.
Polly Morland
Polly Morland is an award-winning author and documentary maker. After fifteen years working for the BBC, Channel Four and Discovery, she went on to write four non-fiction books, including the Sunday Times bestseller, A Fortunate Woman: A Country Doctor’s Story, which was shortlisted for the 2022 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. Polly was the RLF Fellow (2020-23) at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media & Culture, where she now works with students on the documentary pathway of the MA International Journalism. She is a passionate advocate for the many ways that learning to write well can help students not just in the classroom or at university, but more generally in life.
Mark Morris
Mark Morris has written and edited around forty novels, novellas, short story collections and anthologies, mainly in the fields of horror, fantasy and science-fiction. He has written original novels and audio dramas for Doctor Who, and his movie novelisations include The Great Wall and The Predator. He has won two New York Festival Radio Awards, two British Fantasy Awards, and was awarded Silver at the 2020 Audio & Radio Industry Awards for his adaptation of the M.R. James ghost story A View From a Hill. Mark was an RLF Fellow at Leeds University for three years (2019-22), and has delivered Bridge workshops at schools up and down the country.
Vayu Naidu
Vayu Naidu’s historical fiction, re-imagined myths and plays have been nominated for international awards, and the Commonwealth Book Award; they are staged and broadcast by BBC Radio Drama. She was Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at the Universities of West London, Royal Holloway, and Greenwich. Through her PhD in Oral Traditions she explored the distinction between spoken word, written text, and critical thinking while working across primary, secondary and Higher Education. Her work in the Bridge programme helps students to think critically and communicate clearly in writing.
Stephanie Norgate
Stephanie Norgate is a poet published by Bloodaxe Books and an award-winning playwright with plays broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She also enjoys writing non-fiction and is fascinated by the personal essay. She has led many on-location writing workshops in museums, art galleries and gardens. Stephanie was the RLF Fellow at the University of Southampton for three years and previously a creative writing lecturer. She enjoys helping students with their writing and believes that essay writing is accessible to all. She brings her long experience of teaching undergraduates to the Bridge programme and is keen to help sixth-formers develop their writing skills.
Lizzie Nunnery
Lizzie Nunnery is a screenwriter, playwright and songwriter. She has also written extensively for BBC radio. Her theatre work has been produced internationally and has won awards including Best New Play at the 2017 UK Theatre Awards, and the Amnesty International Award for Freedom of Expression. She has taught creative writing in a range of universities, and delivered writing workshops for young people across primary, secondary and theatre settings. Lizzie was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow for Liverpool University in 2019 and for Manchester University in 2021. In that role, she particularly enjoyed engaging with new students and supporting them in the transition to writing at university level.
Donny O
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.
Carina Rodney
Carina Rodney is an award-winning script writer based in the Northeast of England. Her theatre work has toured nationally, and her audio scripts have been produced by BBC Radio 4 and Audible and include the multicast series Hell Cats (2020) and Hell Cats 2, Stand and Deliver (2022).  Carina worked as an English teacher in FE before developing creative writing projects and materials for young adults and children with cultural organisations and schools across the region. Carina was an RLF Fellow at Newcastle University for three years followed by a further placement at Teesside University.  Carina is currently developing original stories for TV and screen and has several projects in active development with production companies. Her TV feature, A Deadly Debt broadcast in 2023.
Cynthia Rogerson
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.
Leigh Russell
Leigh Russell has written twenty-two novels. Her crime series has sold over a million books, and been shortlisted for several major awards. Keen to support aspiring writers, Leigh chairs the judges for the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award, and runs their critiquing service. She has delivered highly acclaimed writing courses to adults and university students, and has been an RLF Fellow at the University of Westminster since 2017. Leigh has a Masters degree in English. Trained to teach pupils with specific learning difficulties, and TESOL trained, she taught as a secondary school English teacher and SENCO for many years.
Cherise Saywell
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.
Dyan Sheldon
Dyan Sheldon is a novelist and short story writer. She has written over fifty books for children – ranging from picture books (including the award-winning The Whales’ Song) to Young Adult. She has also written three adult novels and one travel book. She worked as an RLF Fellow at Goldsmith’s University in London for three years, which has given her an insight and understanding of the challenges many students face with essay writing. It’s that experience that attracted her to working in the Bridge programme. She has done many visits to both primary and secondary schools, as well as having run writing workshops at Arvon and the Mary Ward Centre.
Chris Simms
The son of two teachers, Chris grew up surrounded by homework that didn’t belong to him. Now, with four children of his own, he finds himself in the same situation all over again. The first ever Writing Fellow to be appointed at the University of Manchester, Chris is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Authority. A qualified rugby coach, he has trained a variety of youth teams at his local club. In his spare time, he writes fast-moving thrillers and short stories set in Greater Manchester, where he lives with his wife, kids and a scruffy little lurcher.
Amanda Swift
Amanda Swift has a ProfGCE in Literacy and taught at Lewisham FE College. She was RLF Fellow at the University of East London for five years, inaugural Fellow at London South Bank University and shared a Fellowship at Kingston University. She is committed to supporting a diverse cohort of multilingual and first generation students. As an RLF Consultant Fellow, she delivered academic writing workshops at UEL for multilingual postgraduates and staff. She has written fiction and non-fiction books, as well as for TV, radio and women’s magazines. She likes to bring a sense of fun to her teaching.
Malachy Tallack
Malachy Tallack is an award winning author and editor. He has published books of both fiction and non-fiction, most recently Illuminated by Water (2022). Malachy is managing editor of Gutter, Scotland’s leading literary journal, and has taught many workshops for creative writers at all levels. He was previously a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Dundee (2021-2023), helping students to improve the clarity and precision of their academic work. For him, these are the two key elements of all good prose writing. Malachy is from Shetland, and now lives in Fife.
Rhiannon Tise
Rhiannon is an award-winning script writer for Radio, Theatre and Television. Her recent 10-part adaption of George Eliot’s The Mill on The Floss won the VLV Award for Best Radio Drama (2020). She was RLF Fellow at the University of Kent (Canterbury campus) from 2018-2021. She worked extensively on drama projects in schools in the late 90s/early 00s for the Royal National Theatre, Pop Up Theatre, Y Touring and Hampstead Theatre. Rhiannon is thrilled to have joined the Bridge team and has thorough enjoyed delivering Bridge online with Hannah Vincent for the British Library.
Hannah Vincent
Hannah is a novelist, short story writer and playwright. She has a PhD from the University of Sussex and was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Sussex and then at the University of Brighton, working with undergraduate and post-graduate students across a wide range of subjects including History, Psychology, Paramedic Science, Zoology, Economics and Art History. She is now an Advisory Fellow, supporting colleagues at Sussex, Brighton, Kent and Chichester universities. Her work for the RLF Bridge scheme demonstrates her belief that with clear, practical advice and trust in the writing process, writing well is possible for everyone.
Steve Voake
Steve Voake is the author of 24 books for children and young people including The Dreamwalker's ChildThe Starlight Conspiracy and Blood Hunters.  He has also written the Daisy DawsonHooey Higgins and Maxwell Mutt series for younger readers and the award-winning Insect Detective, a non-fiction picture book.  He was Senior Lecturer on the MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University for 17 years and held a Literary Fellowship at Exeter University. Steve has taught a Masterclass for The Guardian and tutored many successful authors including Emma Carroll, Jasbinder Bilan and Lesley Parr. He is a regular tutor for the Arvon Foundation.
Wendy Wallace
Wendy Wallace is a writer and former education journalist. Her first non-fiction book was Oranges and Lemons: a year in the life of an inner city primary school. Her second, Daughter of Dust, told the true story of an inspirational Sudanese woman. Prize-winning author of three historical novels, Wendy spent three years as RLF Fellow at Goldsmith’s, University of London, and has worked on the Bridge programme at the British Library with students from a wide range of London schools. Now on her fourth novel, she’s still trying to improve her craft and enjoys working with students on practical ways that they can develop their writing skills and confidence.
Stuart Walton
Stuart Walton is a novelist and an author of non-fiction works in the areas of cultural history, philosophy and food. He has written books about human emotions, the five senses, chilli peppers, and chaos. His novel, The First Day in Paradise, is a story about the adventures of an intensely ambitious young man in the dazzling labyrinth of modern-day consumer culture. Stuart has worked as an RLF Writing Fellow at Plymouth University since 2020, and has experience of carrying out long-distance online tuition with students in India. He believes strongly in the power of words to create new pathways of communication between people.
Sheena Wilkinson
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.
Anna Wilson
Anna Wilson began her career as an editor at Macmillan, but quickly turned her attention to writing her own books and has now published over 50 titles. Anna has written many books for children which have been translated into several languages. She has also published a memoir: A Place for Everything – my mother, autism and me, reviewed as “a seminal work in this area” by the world expert in autism in women, Professor Tony Attwood. Anna also has extensive experience in leading creative writing workshops in schools. She was an Associate Lecturer at Bath Spa University for many years and was the RLF Writing Fellow at Exeter Penryn from 2021-2023.
Anne Wilson
Anne Wilson is an ex-journalist, novelist, short story and flash fiction writer, who also writes corporate film scripts and speeches. Anne has supported young people's writing for many years - as a mentor for Year 13 school students preparing personal statements for university, as RLF Fellow at Brunel University from 2014 to 2017 and as a careers consultant helping new graduates to get jobs. She was also a volunteer counsellor at Childline for 5 years.
Philip Womack
Philip Womack is the author of several children's novels, including, most recently, Wildlord (2021), two creative writing handbooks for children, and How to Teach Classics to Your Dog, a work of humorous non-fiction for adults about the Ancient Greeks and Romans. He was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow between 2020 and 2022, working with the Royal College of Music, Swansea University and St Mary's Twickenham. He was a Fellow of First Story, which runs creative writing workshops in schools, for four years, and has taught Creative Writing at Royal Holloway and City University.
Christopher Woodall
Although Christopher spent most of his writing life as a translator from French and Italian, the immersive and vast fictional project that he first conceived in the 1970s has now – somewhat to his own surprise – finally begun to see the light of day. November, the first in a quartet of novels, appeared in 2016 from Dalkey Archive Press. Sweets & Toxins, a selection of short stories, was published in 2019, again by Dalkey. While working on further short stories and on the sequels to November, Christopher acted as RLF Writing Fellow from October 2020 at Magdalene and Wolfson colleges (Cambridge) and, from October 2021 to June 2022, at the University of East Anglia.
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.

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From Students
‘Realistic and reassuring practical advice. 10/10… Enjoyed getting to hear other classmates conveying different interpretations…It’s good to do something different with someone new.’ Dingwall Academy

‘I managed to learn a lot about the different methods in approaching coursework and essays, and the whole experience has been wonderfully informative.’ Cherwell School, Oxford

‘It has made me more aware of the power my words have.’ Monifieth High School, Angus

‘Now I know how to approach any area of writing. I know not only how to structure the writing, but also how to edit and plan.’ Saffron Walden County High School

‘My approach to writing has changed concerning the importance of ensuring every sentence works and when put together builds both a clear and accessible argument.’ Edinburgh Academy

‘I feel equipped with precise techniques and methodologies which I can apply. I have an understanding of positive and negative essay practices.’ Europa School, Oxfordshire

‘I feel more at ease and more confident about writing an essay of high quality.’ Prestwick Academy

‘It was so useful – I understand how to fix the mistakes I was making now. I especially enjoyed how rather than being told to change our approaches to writing, we were encouraged to interrogate them ourselves, so that we could explore our own motives and adapt the skills we already have to different tasks.’ Bishop Thomas Grant School, Lambeth

‘Now it’s been broken down it’s not as scary and I felt my punctuation and spelling etc being more focused on was an obvious but important point I had been missing out. The exercises make it so I have a better idea of how writing for an essay should be like.’ Connell Co-op College, Manchester

‘Very entertaining and interesting… enthusiastic and dedicated tutor… I am excited to use these skills at university…an outside speaker coming in has really helped.’ St George’s School, Edinburgh

‘I didn’t feel confident approaching essay writing and didn’t put much thought into the structure. I now know the steps to take and how to break it up to make it easier for myself.’ Mackie Academy

‘Reality check on the importance of good writing for all courses… Very much helped and introduced me to the jump from school to university.’ Queensferry High School

‘It [The RLF Bridge] gave me a thorough understanding of how unnecessary words can be removed to create succinct, logical points…..very helpful to hear from someone who has been helping students for a while and has covered a wide range of subjects… It’s ok if my first draft isn’t perfect because I now know I can edit and develop it further.’ Anderson High School, Shetland

‘… the activities were really fun and interactive. It [the RLF Bridge] helped me become more confident and excited to write my essay.’ Boroughmuir High School


From Schools
‘You were all so enthusiastic, knowledgeable and imparted such valuable skills to our students. The feedback from both students and staff was all positive; the different subject teachers could all see a benefit within their individual subjects whether planning and writing exam questions or coursework. The booklets were structured very well with really useful and varied examples and tasks.’ Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School, Barnet

‘Year after year, feedback from the pupils involved is very positive with most reporting an increase in either their literacy skills as a whole, confidence in handling extended writing assignments, or both. […] I would say that schools have everything to gain and nothing to lose by giving this scheme a go!’ Braeview Academy, Dundee

‘The afternoon was engaging and invaluable, with a variety of activities to address general issues when it comes to writing, from low confidence to inconsistencies in style. Perhaps most helpful were the strategies given to students to help them effectively edit their work, alongside activities that invited participants to deconstruct the sequence of sentences and paragraphs in their essays. Our students appreciated the enthusiasm of the writers leading the workshops, and were in turn enthusiastic about the insights they gained. We are so grateful for the work that the Royal Literary Fund has done with our Year 12s, and we look forward to welcoming them back again next year.’ Bishop Thomas Grant School, Lambeth

‘A clear programme of learning, covering aspects which are vital for academic writing. All of the students felt more confident having gone through the series of workshops. In speaking to them afterwards they described feeling “reassured” and “more ready to write at college/university”.’ Galashiels Academy

‘The RLF sessions[…] were invaluable in encouraging students to mindfully consider the purpose of written communication and the most effective way to organise and express ideas. [The Bridge Fellow’s] calm manner, thoughtful questioning and gentle reflections prompted pupils to critically engage and evaluate the extent to which written texts achieved their objectives. Pupils were encouraged to reflect on the way they expressed themselves and think about ways in which their point of view could be better or more succinctly articulated.’ Maricourt Catholic High School

‘The sessions were very well structured and delivered. The pupils responded well and the Writing Fellow’s manner and approach was superb.’ Buckhaven High School

‘Particularly valuable are tips on how to get started writing and how to structure long pieces. Pointers on how to frame tasks were great too. Perhaps the most important bit of advice for budding writers was how to be economical with words. The Fellow brings to his delivery of the course a wealth of knowledge from different disciplines. His humour is very appealing and makes what might be a heavy course, fun for students.’ The Mary Erskine School

‘The impact on their essays and dissertations has been positive and significant. Work is clearer and better organised… We look forward hopefully to offering this great opportunity to our future students.’ Oban High School

‘The experience was valuable, and not something I could have provided them with, having never taught in a university and being years away from my own student days. They (the group) were treated as students, rather than pupils in a school… Students left each session enlightened and more confident in their abilities.’ Clydebank High School

‘Many of the pupils have used their experience to help show their preparation for continued studying after school. Thank you for working with our pupils.’ Arbroath High School

‘Incredibly worthwhile and my feeling is that the intensive “all in one week” approach [for island communities] really focused them.’ Kirkwall Grammar School

‘Students… were eager to attend each session and are now starting to apply the skills they learned. We are having to run additional sessions later in the year to accommodate the interest from the S5 and S6 students.’ St George’s, Edinburgh

‘The Higher class can be a bit quiet and reserved but I thought it helped them to step out of their comfort zone… The Advanced Higher class found it useful as a taster for what is to come at University. I would be more than happy to repeat it next year.’ Viewforth High School

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