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Fern Hill Primary School

Fern Hill Primary School

Performing Arts - Fern Speak

Fern Speak - Celebrating the Performing Arts


Fern Speak is Fern Hill’s annual festival of the performing arts run with Cath Howe, our Writer in Residence. The festival is all about developing the children’s self-confidence. They learn how to speak in front of an audience, how to express themselves and most importantly, have a great deal of fun along the way!

Fern Speak was developed in 2015 following Fern Hill's terrific success at the Royal Borough of Kingston's Reading & Performing Arts Festival. Year after year, the children surprise us with their talent, huge enthusiasm and empathy - they are fantastic at supporting each other. Fern Speak always creates a fantastic buzz around the school and with our wider community.

During Fern Speak, the children work with Cath every week to prepare a piece - a monologue, duologue, poem or speech - to perform. Once through the heats,  the children continue to work with Cath as they ready themselves for a showcase in front of invited family members and a panel of judges which includes an external performing arts specialist and school governor. The children are awarded gold, silver and bronze medals for their performances.

Last year, over 150 children from Years 4 through to 6 took part in Fern Speak and we were excited to welcome Bloomsbury Publishing to watch and film some of the rehearsals. Bloomsbury Publishing created a short film to showcase Fern Speak and promote Cath’s book of drama scripts.   

You can watch the film here:


‘To all the children who have been involved in Fern Speak this year:

Looking back on Fern Speak, it has been an amazing year in so many ways. We all know the Finals next week are just a small percentage of the children who have taken part and volunteered in earlier rounds.

This year, I’ve had the excitement of seeing the book of drama scripts, “Let’s Perform!” published, so many of them inspired by this school. Earlier this week, the drama pieces were filmed here in school to motivate other schools to create festivals like ours.

Several things have struck me this year in Fern Speak: the quality and range of our Public Speakers, the numbers of year 6’s taking part in every area of the competition, their professional and helpful attitude and the creativity of so many of the children.

I love to see children giving others great feedback and support. The best thing about coming together as a school for a project like this is seeing pupils supporting each other.

I’ve worked with many exciting new faces. It’s also been wonderful to see pupils who have been in the competition for three years grow and develop their skills. It takes courage to perform on a public stage. Fern Hill children have lots of courage.

Your piece is your own. However you have been involved, I hope you have felt inspired to do more - that’s the idea. I’d like to thank all the children who have taken part in our festival and made it a special part of school life.’

- Cath Howe (Writer in Residence) 

'Thank you very much for inviting me to be on the judging panel of Fern Speak 2018. The atmosphere was fantastic and all the children did so well. It was a real highlight of my year to be part of this wonderful tradition at Fern Hill.'

- Ruth Lawn, Fern Speak Final Judge


About Cath Howe

Cath Howe is an author and teacher working in London, writing for, and working with, Key Stage 2 primary age children. She has a real passion for writing and creativity and has been working at Fern Hill for more than ten years as a Writer in Residence.

In addition to Fern Speak, Cath is a regular visitor to Fern Hill, running assemblies and workshops on everything to do with writing and performing. Cath works in a number of different educational settings and is also Writer in Residence at Kingston University Writing School.

Cath’s first two books were published in 2012 by Pearson for their Bug Club series: ‘The Curse of the Highwayman’ and ‘The Highwayman’s Revenge’. Since then she has written more books for the Pearson Bug Club, a vibrant collection of drama scripts and poetry for primary schools and drama festivals called ‘Let’s Perform’, and her first two highly acclaimed children’s fiction books: ‘Ella on the Outside’, published in May 2018 and ‘Not My Fault’, published last summer.

Visit Cath's website for more information:     

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