STAFF and pupils at Minchinhampton Primary Academy have written a children’s book inspired by real events in the history of the village.

A Portal Through Time is currently at the printers and will be launched on Saturday, June 10 at Market House in the village.

All 320 pupils contributed to the project, guided by the school’s patron of reading and children’s author John Dougherty.

The children all submitted their own artwork to accompany the stories, 70 of which will make the final print and many will be displayed throughout Minchinhampton in shop windows to turn the village into an art gallery.

Head teacher Nick Moss said: “This is an excellent initiative that teams up an author with a school for three years in order to raise the profile of reading.

“You just have to look at the children’s expressions as they work with John, to know that the experience is having a lasting and quite profound effect on them; on their sense of themselves as readers and on their aspirations as writers.

“We know how important it is that our children are provided with a real purpose and audience for their writing. It doesn’t get much better than this - writing and illustrating their own book.

“They have all been on quite a journey, immersing themselves in the history of their village - including running battles between Vikings and Saxons on Minchinhampton Common; holding Victorian tea parties and talking to local residents about their own experiences of World War 2.

“All of which has brought their village to life in ways they could not have dreamed possible and forged links between the school and the local community.”

Each class from Reception through to Year Six set out to write a chapter each, John wrote the initial chapter and the final one.

To gain some inspiration, John and some teachers led 30 pupils around Minchinhampton – gaining a hands-on insight into the town’s history, including a tour of one resident’s Tudor home.

The tale begins with a lost friend and characters set in Minchinhampton endeavour to find them along the way.

Among the stories written by pupils are tales about the Blue Boys and Tom Long, to the GIs on the common in WW2.

A Portal Through Time was compiled over 4-5 weeks last Autumn.

The project was the brain-child of Clare McCarron and Alison Hodges, who has been teaching Years 5-6 at the school for five years, Alison told the SNJ: “The people of Minchinhampton have been really engaging, it’s been lovely.

“It has brought our curriculum alive for the children and it has been an all-consuming experience from author and historian to artist.

“And it has shown them that when they are learning English it is not just a practical skill, it can be a job and a lot of work goes into writing a book.”

The book is being published with funding from the Corinium and Cirencester DFAS Young Arts Project and from the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts (NADFAS).

John Dougherty said: “You don’t have to spend long in Minchinhampton Primary to see that it’s a school where reading for pleasure is valued for its own sake.

“It’s been really quite magical for me to be in the school, or taking questions at a literature festival, or having my hair cut, and to be suddenly faced with a Minchinhampton child bursting to tell me how much they’re enjoying writing their part of the story.

“As you read this story I hope that, like me, you’ll find yourself amazed and impressed by the quality of the children’s work.”

The money raised from the sale of the book and artwork will be used for further creative projects and to repeat this assignment.