Sue has visited nearly 500 schools across the U.K. to work with pupils from YR to Sixth Form. Whatever their age or ability, her aim is to inspire children and young people to value words and stories, whether they’re listening, reading or writing a story of their own.
As an ex-teacher Sue is flexible and can adapt to the requirements of the school. Of course as an alopecia sufferer she has something important to say as an introduction.
“It’s great to begin with an assembly in order to share my story as a writer and a woman with alopecia. The message is that it’s O.K. to be different and everyone, however different they feel or are made to feel, needs the same respect, compassion and understanding. It goes beyond alopecia and is for people with or without hair. Identity is a big issue for young people growing up in our image-fixated society but for me it’s a matter of heart and soul, personality, attitudes, actions and beliefs – not how we look, or how others perceive us.”
Sue knows first-hand the power of fiction. Her character in The Waterhouse Girl gave her strength and has gone on to support others. Imaginative writing can illuminate life, clarify feelings and help writers to understand themselves and others better.
Workshops can be for small groups of G and T writers or reluctant readers, for whole classes or even year groups. They’re always interactive, engaging pupils in responses of different kinds: a word or phrase written on a whiteboard, a list of adjectives inferred but not used in Sue’s reading, a chart, drawing, question or riddle, or even a paragraph or extended piece at the end of a longer session. Sue always uses her own work to model ways to present character, create mood or a setting, use imagery or begin a story. Children will be asked to deduce, describe, compare and contrast, predict and above all enjoy the freedom to be creative.
Sue’s fee for a whole day of workshops is £200. An afternoon is £100. Like all authors, Sue writes so that others will enjoy her stories, so she asks for the opportunity to sell books (after school in primary schools, or at lunchtime in secondary schools). Sue will supply posters and a letter but schools are asked to ensure that parents and pupils know about the visit and the chance to buy a signed book.
“Having witnessed Sue’s transformation from teacher to writer, I can thoroughly recommend her as a visiting speaker. Sue has the ability to grasp the attention of even the most disaffected pupils with her heart-warming stories, great personality and immense knowledge and love for language. Sue is always very willing to engage with the pupils, be it over e-mail or during a workshop. I can recommend Sue without hesitation – she is a delightful writer to have in the school and the children always go home enthused and overflowing with ideas. Thanks for inspiring future writers, Sue!” Head of English, Gilbert Inglefield Academy
“It has been a professional privilege to welcome Sue to our school. The children enjoyed the sessions, being intrigued and challenged by the tales and the suggested tasks. We have used ‘Voice of the Aspen’ in our cross-curricular history/literacy lessons. ” Literacy co-ordinator Cassiobury Junior School
“Sue Hampton came to visit all year 7s and 8s at Cecil Jones College in February this year and both pupils and adults found Sue’s author talk very enjoyable and inspiring! Sue’s message was all about being brave enough to be yourself even when that means being completely different to others. She talked openly about how she developed enough courage to show the world how different she is and her story of her journey as a writer and published author is fascinating! Many staff commented to me on how much they had enjoyed it and many pupils have asked to take out Sue’s books from the library since meeting her. Sue demonstrated that she works well with big audiences and small groups using powerpoints and other resources in the hall and you can tell that she has lots of experience as a teacher by her confident, upbeat and authentic delivery. Many pupils had lots of questions to ask Sue and she answered them all. I found spending the day with Sue to be a very positive experience and she reinforced to me what it is so easy to forget – to enjoy being whoever you are and to face your fear of being different. I recommend Waterhouse Girl and Just For One Day to both adults and pupils.” Wentworth Librarian, Cecil Jones College Southend-on- sea
“Sue Hampton is a regular visitor to us at Townsend school and each time she visits, the children all enjoy listening to her speaking. She engages the children through recounting experiences from her own life, plus thoughts and ideas from a writing perspective. They particularly enjoy listening to extracts from her new books, as well as the opportunity to speak to her in smaller groups after Sue has delivered her talks. Sue is down to earth, honest and above all, an interesting person to hear speaking, which the children really connect with.” Discovery Centre Manager, Townsend C of E School
Some other quotes from schools
Thank you again for coming, you were inspirational and the children got so much out of it! Headteacher, Burford School
Jan Lennon, Librarian, Loreto College, St Albans wrote: We all really enjoyed the talk. Some speakers just talk at the pupils, so some of the girls lose concentration very quickly, but you kept them all interested and involved. By asking interesting questions, we got some interesting answers! Thank you so much. We all thought the visit was FAB! Our Deputy Head of English said she thought your talk was one of the best we have ever had. Quotes from the girls: “She was so interesting, we all want to read her books now” “I can’t wait to read Shutdown. It sounds really good”
The Head of English, Bridgwater School wrote: I just thought that you would like to know that the pupils and staff really enjoyed your visit today. I heard some very positive comments at lunch time and the pupils seem very enthusiastic about your work.
“She was better than Jacqueline Wilson.” Year 5 boy, Fleetville School, St Albans
PENDRAGON SCHOOL, Cambridgeshire: Thank you so much for a fantastic day – the children were buzzing when they left and keen to continue the Lincoln Imp theme while they are so enthused. Jane Huntley Many thanks for your visit to Leopards’ class. I could see, by the children’s faces, that you inspired them. A big thank you from the children and me. Pat King.
WATFORD LIBRARY PRESS RELEASE: Sue Hampton kept more than 40 students from Westfield Community Technology College enthralled with her informative and humorous stories of the trials and tribulations of being an author. The students from Westfield had many questions about how to get published, how covers are created, how characters are developed, which Sue was happy to answer, along with her secrets to success – imagination, patience, passion and self-belief.
“With a talent for engaging young people and writing imaginative stories Sue Hampton is a true advocate for the importance of reading and writing for pleasure,” said County Councillor Keith Emsall, Executive Member for Education and Culture. “Everybody really enjoyed her personal recollections and the entertaining insight she gave into the working life of an author and we very much hope that she will come and do similar sessions for us in the future.”
Fiona, 13, wrote: This is a letter of thanks to say thank you for the wonderful talk you gave to Westfield Community Technology College. I personally enjoyed the experience very much and am hoping that your inspirational words have inspired my fellow students to read not only your books but lots more as well. I am already halfway through Shutdown. My mum came into my room at 11:30 and said I had to stop reading! I just couldn’t put it down!
Reference, from Sue Dyer, Librarian/Head of International Centre, Aylesbury High School: Sue Hampton came into school and did a talk to our Year 7 girls and a talk to a group of mixed age creative writers. Both sessions went very well and the girls were very interested. The year 7 session was basically designed to get them reading and that was very effective – the girls are devouring the books. Sue was very enthusiastic and inspired the girls to find out more about the books for themselves.
Just to say thank you for giving us 2 very enjoyable and stimulating days this week. I have spoken to most of the teachers and their feedback has been extremely positive and very complimentary. Lots of lovely ideas for the children, across the age range, for ways of inspiring their writing. We feel the 2 days have been very successful, Cathy Goodyear Edlesborough School
From Hayley, English teacher at Devizes School: Thank you so much for today; I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was completely enthralled by your talk Sue and could have listened to you talk all day. Many of the girls I spoke to you were really inspired by your talk and I think it is wonderful for them to meet an actual author and hear about inspirations and reaching your goals.
From staff member, Berrygrove School, Watford: We eagerly await your new book and in the meantime you have inspired a lot of children to read (hooray!). Apparently a reluctant reader in my class (boy) took one of your books to bed to read – a first time according to his Mum. Several others came in announcing how many chapters, pages they have read.
I was completely inspired by your talk to me today Sue, and I could have listened to you all day. You are very talented at engaging young people to enable them to write some imaginative stories. Talking to you was a great pleasure. You’ve shown me the importance of writing. Kyra at Bedgrove School, Aylesbury.
From staff member, Leverton School, Waltham Abbey: The children and teachers found the day great and it was obvious from your assembly that the children found you fascinating. Thanks very much for coming. Speaking with the year 5 & 6 teachers they felt that their children were inspired and came back very excited from your sessions.
Hi Susan, I have had some lovely feedback from a mother at St. Margaret Clitherow RC School. She has a son in Year … who has a Statement of Education. He was so inspired by your visit on Tuesday, that that evening he decided to write his own story. He is not usually keen to do any sort of homework, so his Mum was really pleased with his reaction.
From Y6 children at Edwinstree Middle School: “Thank you for an inspirational day” “It was motivational” “The best day of my life!” “really exciting” “If more people read JUST FOR ONE DAY it would make more people enjoy reading like me.” “It was really inspiring to learn so much” “It really inspired me to write my own stories“ “It was a blast!”
Thank you so much for coming into school on Tuesday. We all great enjoyed hearing about your work as an author. You had a lovely manner with the children during the workshops and I know they gained considerably from your experience. Thank you once again for a super morning. Carolyn Watson Lee, Herington House
From Rose Borgeat, librarian, St Albans High School for Girls: “Sue Hampton’s visit to St Albans High School for Girls on World Book Day was an absolute success. She gave a very interesting talk to the whole school in assembly keeping her audience engaged and involved by asking interesting questions. She was a hit with the girls when speaking to them on an individual basis with the result that many of them have been to the library to borrow her books.”
“Our year 8 pupils have just had a fantastic day working in creative writing workshops with Sue Hampton. Both boys and girls were very responsive and produced some amazing work with her guidance which we shall enjoy developing. We look forward to another visit very soon.” Lee Mumbray-Williams, Librarian, Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School
Even now the children and staff are talking about your visit and how inspirational you were! The children have written a note. I have not edited it! ‘Dear Sue Hampton, Thank you for visiting our school we really appreciate it. We all felt excited to read one of your books after your assembly especially Twinside Out. It was very interesting to know about the call from Michael Morpurgo. Last but not least thank you very much.’ Kelly Tarrant Literacy Coordinator Icknield Primary School
From Hema Yagambrun, Head of English, Brooklands Middle School: I really enjoyed your visit very much and was able to pick up tips on how to teach writing and how to use characters to drive it. Two of my students asked questions, which they had asked me and I told them to ask you and their faces just lit up at your answers in the assembly. I find your style of writing easy to access for our students, with a sense of grace and beauty, interlaced with a subtle cleverness that appeals to adults.