2022 CWIG AGM chair's report

20 September 2022

It has been very busy time since Pandemic restrictions began to ease and there is a lot to report. As this has to be a brief report it goes without saying that all of the full details of everything reported here will be available as soon as plans are all in place and we have the details to share.

Things that have happened this year in CWIG:

  • We released our statement opposing the government’s plans to convert the Oak National Academy into an Arms Length Body, which can be read in the Where We Stand section of the SoA website, here.
  • In March, we released a joint statement with the SoA in support of Simon Green and the LGBTQ+ community, when his school visit was cancelled for being ‘outside the scope of what is permissible in a Catholic school’ by the Southwark Archdiocese. See here.
  • The committee has been examining issues surrounding DBS, with the result being that the SoA is planning to help authors acquire DBS through an umbrella body as a membership benefit in the near future. Further details of this will be announced very soon and we are sure that our members will be hugely relieved to have access to this.
  • The Committee has been working with SoA staff on new template contracts for school visits, which are currently under construction and will be available very soon. Two new guides will also be made available to members: one to help authors draft their own terms and conditions for school visits and other events and a separate guide members can send to schools/events organisers.
  • In our events, we hosted a Big Issues in Children’s Literature event with A M Dassu, Darren Chetty, Stuart Lawrence, chaired by Isabel Thomas. The event was a huge success (we only made this event available for one month on Vimeo at the request of the panel).
  • Our CWIG Reading for Pleasure Award for schools continues to be well received (and much desired by schools).
  • SoA group staff coordinators have also been busy on our behalf - Teddy and Sarah attended Farshore’s Annual Insight Presentation for their review of the children’s book market.
  • Group coordinator Teddy McDonald represented the committee in attendance at the Carnegie Greenaway Awards at The British Library.
  • Coordinator Teddy McDonald joined a sector partners meeting with Great School Libraries and received an update on the next phase of their campaign. Phase two will focus primarily on head teachers, Ofsted, and government. The SoA will be amplifying the findings of their next survey into primary and secondary school library provisions when the results come in – the survey is still open, so please do submit to this. See their website for more information.
  • As well as my work on committee I have been in conversation with the National Literacy Trust about speaker fees. I took part in the All Party Parliamentary Writers Group report giving evidence and examining the negative impact covid has had on the incomes of authors. As well as engaging in all discussions at the Society and beyond about the rights, incomes and careers of creatives, I continue to work with library and literacy groups to support reading for pleasure.

After 5 years as a CWIG committee member, and 2 and a half further years as Chair, the time has come for me to take a breather. I have been on committee with dozens of members and when I agreed to take on the role of chair back in 2019 I thought that it might me a lovely way to end my time at CWIG. A few award ceremonies and launches, some lovely events with a few chilled glasses and lots of lovely chats with interesting people.

Sadly a pandemic put paid to that and instead of invites my inbox was full of heartbreaking pleas for help and support. I’m so proud that the Society and CWIG stepped up during this time. We suddenly found ourselves immersed in a world where we could only reach out to our members online, and so that is what we did.

I never did get to go to those fizzy wine awards, but I did have a much more important time than I expected. I would like to thank everyone at CWIG for making this possible and for making such a difference during the most challenging of times. Thank you Teddy and Sarah at Soa, and Jo McCrum who guided my hand at the start of my journey. Thank you Nicola Solomon for your guidance and leadership, and special thanks to Joanne Harris who has talked me into calmer waters more than once! Most of all thank you to the many committee members who have been there with me over the last 7 and half years. You know who you are, and I’m honoured to have worked with you.

Now, I’m delighted to hand over the role of chair to Isabel Thomas and I’m very happy that I’m leaving the committee and the new members in such safe and expert hands.

Dawn Finch