So it was perfect – absolutely brilliantly perfect.
It’s not the first perfect school visit I’ve done but it’s the most recent, so I thought, for the benefit of everyone – I’d try and record the perfect details.
I was contacted in loads of time. This meant that I could book the cheapest rail fares and work out the best, most relaxing, cost efficient way of getting from Bath, to Southend.
The contact was a bookshop. A brilliant children’s bookshop in Westcliff on Sea – Jacqson Diego. So I knew that the children would be able to buy books.
They offered to pay me and my travel – before I even had to prompt them.
A programme of possible activities was emailed to me a fortnight beforehand – a schedule that we kept – no sudden PE lesson in the middle of my talk or half of year 6 disappearing on a theatre trip.
Jacqui from the bookshop met me at the station so I didn’t have to get lost wandering the streets of Southend.
There was tea at the bookshop.
Jacqui accompanied me and a couple of boxes of books to the school where me met a governor, who was there to observe. She was delightful and helpful. All the staff knew exactly who I was.
There was tea.
The children knew who I was – lots of them had actually read my books. The teacher who introduced me asked the children how they were to treat me – “like a rockstar” they replied. The hall was not too hot or too full or too farty. The teachers listened to the talk – the children listened to the talk – they laughed in all the right places – they were keen. All 240 of them.
There was coffee.
There was the workshop which I had planned and printed a few copies. But one for each child appeared shortly afterwards and this way it was actually possible to workshop 120 children simultaneously, calmly and with everyone engaging.
There was lunch, with year 6.
There was another mug of tea.
There was more workshopping and then the children read out their work which was BRILLIANT!
And then there was signing – in the library – with tea, and loads and loads of children and their parents who wandered in from the outside and asked their children which books they wanted and a proper bookseller and a fantastic teacher doing the sales.
Then it was time to go back to the bookshop to meet more children – sign more books, and drink a little more tea.
And then finally, to head out into slight snow, an easy walk to the station, and back to London.
So thank you Jacqui, and thank you Jo Farrell and thank you Hamstel Junior School for being awesomely welcoming and giving me an easy ride.