About Poetry By Heart

What teachers say

A poetry buzz

“The competition and all the fantastic supporting resources have generated a poetry buzz across and beyond the school. It’s not an exaggeration to say that it has changed the lives of the young people who have taken part, offering them the opportunity not simply to engage with poetry but to own it, inhabit it, and share it.”

A challenge

“Some students sign up who say they don’t even like poetry! They want to compete because it is a challenge. Learning a poem by heart appeals to lots of different types of students and often to those we least expect.”

A leveller 

“It’s egalitarian – in our school it is rarely the top set who win and the confidence and pleasure it gives the lower ability students is undoubted.”

An essence of who and what we are 

“Poetry explores the essence of who and what we are. Young people spend much of their time trying to understand themselves through technology which can be destructive in the way that it distances them from that essence.”

 An opportunity to perform in public

“Opportunities such as those offered by Poetry By Heart are increasingly rare. If we are to produce articulate young people who have the confidence to stand in front of large groups and present, to lead business and industry confidently we have a responsibility to prepare them and support them for public scenarios.”

 A risk

“I ran the Poetry By Heart competition at two schools and it absolutely galvanised interest, broke through gender boundaries and gave an incredible range of pupils, from macho Rugby players to painfully shy pupils the chance to be rewarded for taking risks.”

 A living encounter 

“It has massively increased our awareness and enjoyment of poetry: it brings poetry ‘alive’, off the page and into people’s hearts.”

A boost

“I teach students with special needs and it gives them a huge boost when they can remember a whole poem by heart AND perform it. On top of the impact on self-confidence, it supports cognition and learning.”

A navigation aid

“In an age of growing anxiety, stress and mental health concerns, poetry, especially that which has been learned and internalised, can play a vital role in equipping students to navigate the choppy waters of adolescence.”

A lasting impact

“It gave our students the opportunity to engage with poetry in a different way. They genuinely loved it. Students did assemblies, poetry readings and brought in poems that they loved as part of the preparation. This had a lasting impact.”