It’s been a while since I checked in. I’ve been lost in a world of booking school visits, arranging a book launch (which you can read about here) and doing the work on the ground to give Better Places Nicky and Candy’s Street the best possible chance of getting out there.

But, I thought it about time to touch base with again to share where I’m up to and thought the best place to start would be a fantastic school visit I did a couple of weeks back.

On Wednesday 15th February, I was lucky enough to visit St Andrews Church of England Primary School in Radcliffe, Bury, for my first Better Places school visit.

I trundled up to the school gates feeling like it was my first day at school again; full of excitement and nerves. I was greeted warmly by the staff as soon as I entered the school before being shown around by the deputy head. T

he excited, anxious feeling I had soon faded after seeing some of the young people during their choir practice in the main hall, all with big smiles as I walked in.

After a quick conversation with some of students, a couple of high fives and hugs, it was time for my first public reading of Better Places Nicky and Candy’s Street.

ben the author classroom

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, or that I read it as well as I’d hoped – but no one seemed to no

tice. It was met as I’d wanted; with laughs, interaction and, most importantly, engagement to make places better.

After the reading it was straight in to work with years 3 and 4; delivering lessons on how we can make places better in the real world.

This was kicked off with an activity to look at what might make places bad and what might make them good for blind and visually impaired people. The children took this learning and applied it to more local settings to find places around their school that might be difficult for blind and visually impaired people to access.

Students found all sorts of places, and the usual suspects. Cars parked on pavements, streets scattered with signs, posts, trees and oddly placed post boxes (are we still using them?).

From there, the children tested their art skills by drawing how they would design the streets in a better way, before sharing with the rest of the class.

We had some real Picasso’s in the room but aside from that it really brought it home how obvious the most common access issues are to people once the space is creates to explore them  and how just being made aware of the problems easily prompts thinking about how we can make places better – which is exactly what I was hoping for from the visit.

Aside from the learning, I loved spending time with the young people. I was

ben the author classroom

mobbed on the playground at break time, interrogated about my music taste before passing the check by knowing who Central Cee is. Dinner time was spent with a huge queue of children who had all purchased Nicky and Candy’s Street awaiting their signed copy – it was so lovely to have that level of support. The whole day was amazing and I came away thinking, ‘how could anyone not want to work with kids? It’s so much easier than working with adults.’ Perhaps some early naivety but I’ll stick with it until I’m proven wrong

To close my time with St Andrews, I had a conversation with Charlie, Freddie, Ollie and Poppy who shared their thoughts and learning from the day which you can catch up on here –

And on that, St Andrews it was a pleasure and thanks for making Better Places.

If you’re school would like to book a Better Places visit, you can do so here –

Witten by Ben Andrews on