She’s the Doncaster Dumbledore, and Pheasant Bank Academy is its Hogwarts, as school gets place in literary history
She’s the Doncaster Dumbledore, and Pheasant Bank Academy is its Hogwarts!
Rossington headteacher Pippa Robinson may not be able to be able to do magic – but she and some of her teachers have just gone down in children’s literature history along with the school where they teach in Rossington.
Author Peter J Murray decided to use the names of the teachers and their school, Pheasant Bank Academy, after it inspired his latest World War One themed novel with a display of poppies that was outside the school entrance when he visited to do a talk.
And this week he returned to Rossington with copies of his completed novel to launch it at the school which inspired him.
As well as using the name of the school in the book, Peter has also included Miss Robinson’s name, along with those of teacher Ryan Schofield, and former teacher Louise Musson, who has since moved to become headteacher of Montagu Primary School in Mexborough, another school run by Delta Academies Trust.
The new book, Poppy Warrior, is Peter’s 15th book. He is best known for his award winning Mokee Joe series.
He said: “Poppy Warrior is a departure for me but it’s my best yet and I have Pheasant Bank Academy to thank.
“I went there to inspire pupils about writing and they ended up inspiring me.
“I was welcomed by an amazing display of wild poppies on an embankment and they, plus the wonderful children, had me thinking about a World War One tale.”
The story takes an 11-year-old, computer-game addicted, identical twin, via a spooky series of events, to the Western Front, standing alongside his great, great grandfather and discovering the real-life horrors of trench warfare.
He says it delivered a message of discovering the difference between the meaningless violence contained in computer games and the actual events experienced by the brave men who fought and died in the war.
Youngsters at the school were consulted on the characters that Peter gave for the teachers whose names he borrowed for the book – leading to some changes from his original draft.
Miss Robinson was originally depicted in the book as wearing a grey trouser suit. But youngsters forced a change by telling him that she never dressed like that, so he changed her outfit. Mr Schofield was originally described as an elderly gentleman – but the pupils demanded a change. He was then described as ‘athletic’ instead. Although some pupils at the launch still disputed the update description!
All three teachers were at the launch, and all three were thrilled to have their names in print.
Mr Ryan said he had a sneak preview of the book. He said: “Pippa told me I was in the book and I was blown away by that! I’m happy and my character features a lot in the book and is integral to the plot. I’m described as athletic – I’m not sure if everyone would describe me in that way! But there’s a quirkiness I recognise in myself.”
Mrs Musson said she had not read the book yet, but felt honoured to be in it. “When I heard, I said I’d have to get some copies for my mum,” she said. “I’m going to get Peter to come out and visit Montagu now.”
Miss Robinson said: “I think Peter has been very kind to us.
“I was delighted when Peter first mentioned about the academy visit inspiring his book.
“We do a lot of work on reading, and the pupils love books. It’s great that the school has inspired an author. All our classes are named after books, and we will use this book’s title for one of our classes.
“We think its really special for the children and I’ve never heard of anything like this before.”
She added all the pupils would be given a copy of the book, so that they all got one at the same time. Pupils in future years will also be given a copy. She admitted she would love to see a sequel.
Peter said he had not ruled out basing another book on a real school in the future.
Mum and dad Gregg Joyner and Claire Emberton were among parents who came into the school to see a performance of a section of the book on the stage in the school, featuring their 10-year-old son Alex Joyner, and classmate Crystal Leach.
Claire said she had already bought a copy of the book and planned to be the first in the house to read it.