Literacy project launched at former Doncaster school of ex-Poet Laureate Ted Hughes

A literacy project aimed at inspiring generations of Doncaster children has been launched at the former school of former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes.

By Darren Burke
Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 3:29 pm

Doncaster Stories has launched the Literacy Lab with help from pupils at Montagu Academy in Mexborough, where the writer lived and grew up in his early years.

The space is in Mexborough Business Centre, the former school of the world famous author – and it’s all about empowering children to reach their potential through creative literacy.

Children in Years 4 from Montagu Academy attended the launch event and took part in a series of workshops including poetry writing with Laura Mucha and a draw-a-long with illustrator Chris Mould, who created the artwork for The Iron Man.

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The Literacy Lab has been launched in Mexborough.

They also performed an original poem for special guests including the Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones, Carol Hughes, the Wwdow of Ted Hughes, funders from Arts Council England, staff from Faber Children’s Books, and Jonathan Douglas, the CEO of the National Literacy Trust.

Doncaster Stories launched in October 2019 but this is the first time the campaign has had a space to call their own, meaning they can reach more young people than ever.

The Literacy Lab is part of a wider project to transform the Mexborough Business Centre into a self-sustaining art venue and the work created by visiting young people will be put on public display.

Thanks to Ikea, the Literacy Lab has been furnished with sofas, bean bags, and book shelves with titles gifted by Faber Children’s Books for young people to borrow.

Illustrator Chris Mould has also created a huge mural of The Iron Man that reaches from the floor to the ceiling of the lofty space, and there’s a trail to go with it too.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to rescue The Iron Man’s body parts from seagulls that have flown off around the building – find the seagulls, solve the puzzles, and piece him together again.

The resource can be collected from reception for families to enjoy in their own time.

Phil Sheppard, Senior Project Officer for Doncaster Stories, said: “The Literacy Lab is an invaluable addition to Doncaster Stories and I can’t wait to see more young people using the space. We want children to discover that literacy isn’t just something for the classroom, but rather that literacy is a powerful tool for creative expression and includes everything from reading to performance.”

Jonathan Douglas, CEO of the National Literacy Trust, said: “This project is a brilliant example of exactly what our local campaigns are for – putting literacy on the agenda of local partners, leading innovation, seamlessly linking literacy and literature, and developing initiatives in the communities which deserve and need them most. Our partnership with Mexborough Business Centre is a fantastic development, and it was just such a happy day! I loved every minute of it.”

To find out more information about the Literacy Lab and Doncaster Stories, please visit or search for the project on Facebook.