Category Archives: Centre of Excellence


Write a short story (aimed at any age group within the children or YA genre) but your story must include the child in this photo. Remember, it is quite a short story, as you have a maximum of 1000 words. 

I was quite happy with this assignment, as I loved the cheeky little boy photo, he reminded me of my grandson!

My answer:

Archie was always getting in trouble.  He liked to splash in puddles when he didn’t have his wellies on, he liked to take his shoes off when his mummy had just put them on him, he liked to put his hands in his dinner and squidge them up and down and he loved to jump up and down on his mummy and daddy’s bed.  

One day, Archie had been particularly naughty and his mummy and daddy put him upstairs in his bedroom, mummy had said to him, “Stay in there until you can become a good little boy.”

Archie was confused by this, he didn’t want to be a good little boy, so he decided to stay in his room forever.

He looked around at his room, his books were stacked neatly on the shelf, his toys were packed away nicely in their box and his bed looked very snuggly as it had just been made.

Archie took out his colouring pencils, but after colouring in some pictures for a while, he got bored of that without his mummy sat next to him and colouring in too.

He set up his train track, it was hard without his daddy to help him, he sort of managed it, but when he let the train go, it sped up the train tracks and crashed when it ran out of train tracks.  Archie picked up the train which now had a bent funnel. He was sad as this was his favourite train.

Archie went over to his bookshelf and chose a book, The Gruffalo, his mummy would read it to him before he went to sleep, but not this time, she wasn’t there. Archie tried to read it to himself, but he didn’t like doing that, he liked his mummy reading it to him and when he tried to turn a page, it ripped. Archie was upset as this was his favourite book.

He went to his toy box in his bedroom, it was full of cars, fire engines, trucks and diggers. He took out a few to play with, making the different sounds they made, but by himself it was a little boring. Usually his daddy would play cars with him, they would set up the car mat and drive through pretend cities and towns. Archie loved it when his daddy played with him, it made him feel very special.

Archie sat down on his bed, his legs dangling over the side, he could play hide and seek and so he jumped off the bed and hid underneath the bed waiting for mummy or daddy to find him. But after a little while he realised that they wouldn’t be coming, they didn’t know he was hiding as he was in his bedroom alone.

Archie was very sad, being in his bedroom by himself wasn’t as much fun as he thought it was going to be and he missed his mummy and daddy.

He opened the bedroom door and went to the top of the stairs, behind the stair gate, he could hear his mummy and daddy downstairs talking as they were making lunch. Archie shouted, “I’m sorry mummy and daddy, can I come downstairs now?” The talking stopped downstairs and his mummy appeared at the bottom of the stairs, “What are you doing, Archie, you should be in your bedroom,” she scolded him. “I don’t want to be in my bedroom any more, I’m sorry I’ve been naughty, I’ll be good from now on.”

With that, mummy came upstairs and opened the stair gate, “Give mummy a hug,” she said to him and Archie immediately hugged her.

That afternoon he coloured in with his mummy, played with his train set and cars with his daddy, played hide and seek with both of his parents and at the end of the day, mummy mended The Gruffalo book and read it to him until he fell asleep.

Now Archie was never an angel, he was a normal small boy who sometimes  liked to jump in puddles without any wellies!

Using the photo below, write a short story about this character. Creative interpretation is welcome, but do not extend the word count. Maximum 500 words. 

The challenge for this assignment was to write a story not exceeding 500 words, so a short, snappy story was what was required.

My answer:

It was nearly time for Connor to leave to go to the concert. He couldn’t remember when he last felt this excited about anything at all. He’d listened to their music for as long as he could remember and couldn’t quite believe that he was going to see them actually perform in person.

“Connor, will you sit still,” his mother asked him, they were sat on the train and he couldn’t hide his excitement. He looked at his watch, “Only two hours to go and I’ll be listening to those songs on my iPod live.”

The concert venue was packed with children about the same age as Connor, they were all equally as excited and had parents in tow whose faces did not display the same amount of excitement as their children’s.

You could feel the excitement grow as the stadium gradually filled up. Connor had purchased the programme, ignoring his mother’s protests that £8 was far too much money, he had saved his money for exactly this occasion.

As they sat in their seats the fans did their best to entertain themselves, stamping their feet on the ground, creating a Mexican wave, booing the section of audience who didn’t join in. A voice announced that there was only ten minutes to go…

Connor jumped up in his seat, strained his neck to see if he could see any movement on the stage, no, not yet.

Then the band struck the first chord, the first chord of one of their most popular songs, the crowd immediately started to sing, Connor did as well, shouting out the lyrics as loud as his voice would let him.  His mother sat next to him, swapping glances with the other mothers, all wondering how they had let their children talk them into this.

The band came on stage, it was almost too much to bear for Connor, he let out a very loud, “Whoop, whoop, whoop,” and danced on the spot. After what seemed like an eternity for Connor, the lead singer popped up from a trap door in the stage, grabbed the microphone and started singing. 

The mothers couldn’t contain themselves any longer, gone were the strained faces, the bored glances at each other, up they jumped, dancing and singing with their children.

Everyone had a wonderful time, they all danced to every song and sang every word to each song and on the way home Connor stole a look at his mum’s iPhone, yep, every single song by his group was on there!

Using the characters given as examples under "A secret", write full character profiles for (a) Thomas and (b) Janey.
A Secret
Thomas, the eight-year-old, has to keep his older brother's secret drink habit from their parents, as he is scared of the consequences.
Janey knows her mum's holiday plans and is trying very hard to keep the secret from her father, who works too many hours. 

This is something that i’ve not done before, I have in my mind what my characters are going to be like, but never actually written it down before, which I think I will do in the future.

My answer:

Thomas is an eight year old, who is older than his years, he feels a responsibility towards his family, he is a worrier and feels like the weight of the world is on his shoulders. He tries to please his parents all the time, as he wants to belong to a big happy family, he is worried that they will discover his big brother’s drinking habit. He is a clever boy and his parents favour him above his older brother. He enjoys normal eight year old boy activities, he plays football for his school and likes playing computer games. Thomas is small for his age, has short blonde hair and blue eyes.

Janey is a 12 year old girl, she is medium height, has brown hair which is normally tied back ino a tight pony tail. She is a good student and has lots of friends at school. She is a happy-go-lucky child, who is very close to her parents. She spends a lot of time with her mother as her father works long hours. She doesn’t like to keep anything from her parents, but when she found out that her mother was taking them away on holiday, she knew this was a good secret and that her dad deserved a holiday. She is outgoing and cares about animals and enjoys horse riding.

Your Grade: 100%

Your Mark: Distinction

So that’s Module 3 completed – I have had a sneaky peak at Module 4 and it’s definitely a step up from what I’ve been doing so far.

Module 2 assessment: CAUSE AND EFFECT

Using eight-year-old twins Bobby and Alison, create a story - maximum of 1,000 words - that show cause and effect within the story.

I was a little apprehensive about this assignment, not completely sure what was meant by cause and effect. It can be defined as the consequences of an action, event or decision.

My answer:

Bobby and Alison are twins, they are more than just brother and sister, they are best friends as well. Even though they look alike, they both have very different personalities; Bobby is the one who will try new things out without really thinking about the consequences, whilst Alison likes to step back and think things through. 

Bobby and Alison love to play with their friends, they enjoy riding on their bikes, playing football or basketball or sometimes just playing computer games together.

One day, they all decided to go for a bike ride together and were happily cycling down the street when suddenly George appeared. Now, “Who’s George?” you may well ask, well he wasn’t a very nice boy, he teased the younger children and told tales on the older children.

“Where are you all off to?” he demanded, he had positioned his bike across the path so they couldn’t pass him. “We’re going for a cycle in the woods,” replied Jamie, one of Bobby and Alison’s friends. “I’m bored,” George announced, “So I’m going to come with you.” Everyone looked at each other and pulled faces, they didn’t want George to come with them, but it seemed like they had no choice.

They cycled around their local woods, George took great delight in stopping suddenly in front of them, causing them to brake hard to avoid hitting each other.

The path that they were following lead them to a river and tied to one of the trees was a rope swing. As soon as they arrived, George flung down his bike and raced over to the rope swing. “I bet I could do this easily,” he boasted, tugging at the rope to see if it held. The friends peered over the edge of the bank, it was quite high and steep and actually looked a little dangerous.

“Come on then, who’s going to go first?” George asked. They all looked at each other, none of them thought it looked particularly safe. “Do I have to pick someone then?” he asked impatiently, “How about you, Bobby?”

Bobby wasn’t sure that he wanted to go on this rope swing, if he fell, he would fall quite a long way and end up in the water. “Don’t do it, it doesn’t look safe,” Alison told her twin brother, “I’m worried that you may hurt yourself.” Bobby agreed with her and started to tell George that he wasn’t going to do it. “I… I… I don’t—” Bobby started to say, but George interrupted him, “Come on Bobby, what are you scared of? Are you chicken?”

Bobby looked around at his friends, they all looked scared, he had to do it, if he didn’t then George might pick one of them to do it. “Please don’t do it, Bobby,” his sister pleaded, “Let’s just get on our bikes and cycle away.”

“Bobby! I’m waiting,” George shouted, “All your friends will think you’re brave doing this, if you don’t, they won’t want to be your friends anymore!”

He stepped forward and even though his heart was thumping so loud he was sure George could hear it, he said, “Okay, I’ll do it.” Alison gasped, she could see the danger, she stepped forward and grabbed his shoulder, “No, I won’t let you do it, don’t let George bully you into doing this.” But Bobby just pushed her hand away and took the rope swing from George’s hand.

As he held onto the rope, he looked down, it was quite high, but he stepped back, ran forward and launched himself off the side of the bank.

The feeling of flying through the air was thrilling, he went forward and then backwards, closer to his friends, he could see their faces were a mixture of excitement and terror.  George was smiling, he couldn’t actually believe that Bobby decided to do it, he certainly wouldn’t have.

After a few swings, the rope swing started to slow down, until it came to a complete stop. Bobby was stranded, he was dangling over the water and not able to get the momentum to swing back to his friends and George. “I’m stuck,” he shouted, “Can anyone find a branch of something to try to hook onto the rope and pull me back?” They all looked around for something, but there was nothing to be found.

“Bobby, we can’t reach you, we’re going to have to get the fire brigade to come and get you,” Alison shouted, “Hold on.”

George produced a mobile phone, “My parents told me to use it in an emergency and this is an emergency,” so he phoned 999.

After approximately half an hour, a small fire truck arrived with four firefighters. “Well, what’s been going on here then?” the senior officer asked. Alison explained that they were trying out the rope swing and Bobby got stuck, whilst the other firefighters had found a long hook and were pulling Bobby back to safety.

“This rope swing looks pretty dangerous, I think we need to take it down,” the senior officer said to his colleagues, and with that, they cut the rope and the rope swing fell into the water below. “That was a very silly thing to do, you could have been hurt.”

Bobby looked at the ground, he knew he’d been stupid, he should have never given in to the peer pressure from George and then they wouldn’t have had to call out the fire service. He vowed that he would never give in to somebody ever again.

Assessor comment:

Another great idea.

Grade needed to pass: 60%

Your grade: 100%

Explain how you planned your story and any difficulties with the writing aspect.

Fairly self explanatory.

My answer:

I decided to wait to write the stories until inspiration came, rather than sit down and try and think of something to write. So I took my time and found that once I had figured out exactly what I was going to write, then the actual writing of it came easier than I thought. The planning really took the form of beginning, middle and end as these were short stories.

The main difficulty was actually coming up with an idea, especially for the cause and effect story, i had never heard of that before! Another difficulty I found was the word count, the worst story for this wa sthe magic story as I had wanted to go on to do another jigsaw adventure, but in order to not go too much over the 1000 word limit, I had to stop at one story.

I thoroughly enjoyed writing these stories.

Assessor Comment:

Fantastic, well done.

So that is Module 2 finished – I was very happy with my marks, 100% and a distinction. Fingers crossed that I can continue this standard in my future assignments, but I have a feeling it’s gonna get a bit tougher!


Create a fantasy story for the 8-12 years age range. Even though the theme is magic, it must still be believable. The story should be approximately 1,000 words. 

I was excited to do this assignment – a chance to let my imagination go wild for a while – I have already published this story on my blog, The Magic Jigsaw but I will show it again.

My answer:

Harry is ten years old, he lives with his mother and father and he is an only child. Harry loves jigsaw puzzles, he loves sorting the pieces out into corners, straight edges and the different shaped ones. He loves jigsaws with cartoons, scenery, people, animals, in fact, Harry loves jigsaws of any sort, so you can imagine how pleased he was when he saw that a new jigsaw shop had opened on his high street.

The Jolly Jigsaw Shop was squeezed in between the Chinese Takeaway and the Fish and Chip shop, it was hard to spot their front door, but Harry noticed it and excitedly opened the door and stepped into a world of jigsaw puzzles.

The shop had every kind of jigsaw imaginable; 500 pieces, 1000 pieces, large pieces, wooden and 3D. The shelves were stacked from floor to ceiling, he had never seen so many puzzles in one place. Harry had a hard time choosing which one he was going to buy, each time he chose one, he found another one he liked better.  Whilst he was trying to make a decision, the owner of the shop came up to him, “Hello, young boy,” he boomed, “What are you looking for today?” Harry looked up to see a large man, with bright ginger hair and a ginger moustache and beard.

“I’m not really sure.” Harry replied and added, “Do you have any favourites?”  “Well, I do like historical jigsaws, ones that show events in history, like this one for instance,” and the shop owner held up a puzzle which showed a picture of the Battle of Waterloo.

Harry thought that it did look interesting and so he decided to buy it. “No, no, young man, I won’t take any money for it, you are my first customer and I’d like to show my appreciation.” Harry did not want to accept this man’s kind offer and offered to pay, but the shop owner insisted, he just asked if Harry could return the puzzle once he had completed it, so Harry walked out of the shop with the puzzle under his arm.

Once home, Harry started to complete the jigsaw puzzle, it was 1000 pieces and the picture was very detailed; there were horses and soldiers fighting and a lot of gun smoke, so it took him a little while to complete.

A couple of days later, Harry had one final piece to put in the jigsaw puzzle. He placed it in its position and leaned back to admire the picture.

Then, a strange thing happened, the puzzle began to sway quickly from side to side, the picture became blurred and Harry felt as though he was being swallowed up into the puzzle and then everything went black…

Suddenly, Harry saw a bright light and he could hear voices, he looked around and he was no longer in his bedroom, it seemed as though he was in the middle of a muddy field. There were soldiers everywhere, shouting and rushing around, orders were being shouted by men on horses and then Harry saw a man sat in a tent, the tent had the English flag above it and he was surrounded by important looking men, Harry looked closer and couldn’t believe his eyes, it was the Duke of Wellington, whom Harry had just seen in his jigsaw puzzle. The Duke was deep in conversation with these men and they were earnestly pointing at a large map in the middle of the table. Harry moved closer and strained to hear what they were saying.

“But we are drastically outnumbered,” one soldier said, “We need to wait until the Prussians get here before we go into battle,” The Duke of Wellington replied, “The Prussians will be bringing about 45,000 soldiers, which will help us in battle because at the moment we are outnumbered by Napoleon’s army.” 

At that moment, Harry heard soldiers shouting, “The French are attacking, everyone to the battlefield,” and he could hear gunfire and cannon shots. Harry ran down to the battlefield and found a safe place to hide, he watched as the battle raged on and eventually the Duke of Wellington’s army managed to force the French to retreat.

Harry once again saw the Duke of Wellington, “We have lost lots of soldiers during this fighting,” he informed his generals, “But we need to stop defending our position and attack the French,” and his generals nodded in agreement.

This was the last time that Harry saw the Duke of Wellington as everything began to sway and Harry felt as though he was falling again. This time when he looked around, Harry was back in his bedroom, he looked at the jigsaw puzzle and the picture had changed, it showed the Duke of Wellington riding his horse in celebration of his victory.

Harry rushed to his computer, he looked up The Battle of Waterloo and sure enough, what he had seen and heard had actually happened, he was amazed. He immediately broke up the puzzle and went back to the jigsaw puzzle shop.

When Harry arrived at the shop, the owner was there, he was completing a puzzle himself and he looked up when he heard the shop bell tinkle and smiled when he saw it was Harry. “Did you enjoy that puzzle?” he asked, “Did it teach you anything?”

Harry reached into his bag and placed the puzzle on the counter, surprised that it was now again showing the Battle of Waterloo on the cover. “That puzzle was amazing, I learnt a lot about The Battle of Waterloo, do you have any others I could do?”

The shop owner reached up to a shelf above him and pulled out another puzzle, this time it was a scene depicting The Boston Tea Party. “How would you like to do this one?” he said, “There’s a lot you could learn from this one.”

Harry nodded, he couldn’t wait to get home and see what would happen when he completed this puzzle.

Assessor Comment:

Really enjoyed this short story, excellent idea.

Grade needed to pass: 60%

Your grade: 100%

Your mark: Distinction

Module 2 assessment: Creating tension

Create tension for a character through an event that puts the character under pressure or causes a dilemma. Create a 500-word sample of writing that depicts the problem and the escalating tension.  This can be for any age group within the children's book category.

As this was my first assignment, it took a little while to come up with a concept for this and the fact that I had to stick to 500 words was a little worrying.

My answer:

Sissy woke up and for a split second all was right with the world, that split second was wonderful, the sun was shining through the window and her pet cat was purring next to her, the sound was soothing. Then, a feeling of impending doom came over her, the sun went behind a cloud and her cat’s purring was suddenly irritating, she remembered it was the day of her exam.

The studying she had done for the past year, it was now the time that all this would come to fruition, either she would ace it or at the very worst, she wouldn’t be going to the college that she had dreamed about ever since she had decided to become a vet.

She stroked Tommy, apologising for even thinking that his purring was irritating and made her way down to breakfast.

Her mum was busy in the kitchen, popping bread in the toaster, pouring out orange juice, “Do you want the usual this morning?” she enquired, Sissy nodded, even though she was sure she wouldn’t be able to stomach the toast as her stomach felt like it was in knots. “There you go, my lovely,” her mum said cheerily, “You need to have a good breakfast before you smash this exam!” Sissy replied with a smile which she thought showed the utmost confidence, but her mum wasn’t fooled, “Are you okay, my lovely? You’re not nervous, are you?” Sissy shook her head, not trusting herself to speak as she was sure the waver in her voice would give her away.

She managed to force down a slice of toast and a gulp of orange juice before saying goodbye to her mum, who shouted after her as she walked down the hallway, “You go get ‘em darling, you’ll be amazing!”  “No pressure there then,” Sissy thought to herself.

As Sissy entered the school gates, she met up with her fellow classmates, some looked confident, others looked like Sissy felt.  She sought out her best friend, Amy, who by the looks of her, was feeling the same as Sissy. “How are you feeling?” Sissy whispered, “Nervous, you?” Sissy nodded in agreement, “My whole future rests on this exam and I don’t know if I’m prepared for it or not,” she replied.

It had been Sissy’s dream to become a vet ever since she could remember, ever since her goldfish, Ringo, had died and they had a funeral in the bathroom, as she had watched Ringo disappear into his watery grave she had vowed to find out why he’d died and prevent it from happening to another goldfish that she may own in the future.

As they filed single line into the main hall and found their desks, Sissy felt slightly sick, she wished she’d never eaten that toast now. She sat down, waited for the adjudicator to tell them to start, and then she turned over the question paper. Quickly scanning the questions, her mother’s words came into her head, “Go get ‘em darling, you’ll be amazing,” and after looking at the questions, Sissy agreed with her!

Assessor Comment:

Great idea.

Grade needed to pass: 60%

Your grade: 100%

Your mark: Distinction.

module 1 assessment

Explain why you would like to write children's books and whether the results of your market research, as suggested, in this module, enable you to feel more confident in writing for a certain age group or whether you have changed your initial plan and would prefer to write for a different age range.

I was surprised at how easy it was to answer this question – so I guess this is what I want to do!

My answer:

I would like to write children’s books because this has always been a gentre that has interested me. I can remember as a child, running down to the mobile library every Tuesday, to see if there were any new books by Enid Blyton on the shelves. When I saw that there was, I wuold quickly book it out, run home and devour it straight away. It would be wonderful if my books were as eagerly anticipated as this, even by just one child.

I think that the books you read as a child, you never forget and you pass them on to your children and they then pass them onto their children. Children books have stood the test of tiem, the Very Hungry Caterpillar, Black Beauty and I’m sure the Harry Poter books will be around for years to come.

When visiting the library, I’m often drawn to the children’s books, firstly to take a look at which genres are popular, look at the new books by David Walliams and the old books by Roald Dahl and to admire the colourful and imaginative covers of the books.

As a grandmother, I love sitting down and reading with my grandchildren, I love the look on their faces as they listen and take in what is being said and ask questions. It would be lovely to think that the same is happening in other families and that my stories are generating the same sort of conversations.

In children’s books, you can include almost anything: talking animals, invisible people, wicked witches, fairies, which means that your imagination can go as wild as you like and you can create whole worlds for the children to be a part of. Even though this still needs to be thought out carefully, you can also have a lot of fun creating your different characters.

The early readers age group has always been the age bracket that I regarded as my target audience, from five years old to about seven. I feel that at this ae they enjoy the simpler stories with straightforward story lines and an underlying message that good is better than evil. At this age, children have progressed from books that have more pictures than words, to more words than pictures, but the sentences still need to be short, with no long, hard to read words and after completing the task of writing a short paragraph for each genre, I found my writing style complimented these types of books.

I would love to write a series of books, featuring the same characters, who face every day dilemmas and are able to overcome these dilemmas wih help from friends and family.

After completing some market research, I am still eager to write for this age group as I think it is a wonderful age when children really do discover the joy of books by reading them themsevles to with their parents, siblings or carers and I would love for my books to be a part of that.

Assessor Comment:

Excellent answer, honest and well written to get your point across.

List your overall goals for taking this course and include any smaller stepping stones to help you achieve those goals. 

I think that my overall goals were quite easy and the smaller stepping stones were common sense.

My answer:

My goal for taking this course is to eventually become a published children’s writer. I would love to have a book published that is ready by children, that they can relate to.

Anothe goal is that I would like to write more often, at the moment I can’t seem to get into this mindset and I would like to learn ways in which I can sit down and be creative and write.

Smaller stepping stones would be to produce good quality short stories for children and I would like to be able to learn how to create interesting characters.

Assessor Comments:

Realistic small stepping stone, everyone needs to start somewhere.

Grade needed to pass: 60%

Your grade: 100%

Your mark: Distinction

WRITING books for children diploma

During the first lockdown of 2020, I happened to come across an advert via Facebook which was advertising courses at a discounted price. A particular subject caught my eye – Writing Books for Children Diploma and the price had been reduced from £199 to just £25, which I thought was too good of an opportunity to miss, as I was then in the process of writing a childrens book, so I immediately signed up. The company was the Centre of Excellence and they have courses for a wide range of subjects and they still have many courses at a discounted price!

The process was very straight forward and before long I was able to start with this course. So I thought it might be a good idea to share my experience with you, which means that I will be sharing my work and the feedback that I receive with the hope that it will inspire any would-be writers out there to have a go themselves.

I have to admit that whilst I started during the first lockdown, I didn’t get very far as, ironically, I was working on my first children’s book (which is due to be published this year), but now we are in lockdown three, I am hoping to finish this course.

So come along on this journey with me, we can all learn together and you never know, you could be the next Enid Blyton or J. K. Rowling!