Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me

Kate Clanchy

With a new afterword.

‘The best book on teachers and children and writing that I’ve ever read. No-one has said better so much of what so badly needs saying’ – Philip Pullman

Kate Clanchy wants to change the world and thinks school is an excellent place to do it. She invites you to meet some of the kids she has taught in her thirty-year career.

Join her as she explains everything about sex to a classroom of thirteen-year-olds. As she works in the school ‘Inclusion Unit’, trying to improve the fortunes of kids excluded from regular lessons because of their terrifying power to end learning in an instant. Or as she nurtures her multicultural poetry group, full of migrants and refugees, watches them find their voice and produce work of heartbreaking brilliance.

While Clanchy doesn’t deny stinging humiliations or hide painful accidents, she celebrates this most creative, passionate and practically useful of jobs. Teaching today is all too often demeaned, diminished and drastically under-resourced. Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me will show you why it shouldn’t be.

Winner of the Orwell Prize for Political Writing 2020


ISBN: 9781800751675

Published: April 14, 2022


ISBN: 9781800751668

Published: January 28, 2022


Reviews for Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me

‘One of the most inspiring books about teaching you’ll ever read . . . superbly well written . . . brilliantly funny’ – Sunday Times

‘As vivid and honest an account of classroom teaching as you are likely to read . . . sometimes moving, sometimes comic and always engaging’ – Guardian

Inspiring, moving and funny … A book that will appeal not just to other teachers and parents, but to anyone who cares about education’ – The Times

Read it. It will make you a better person, kinder and more understanding‘ – Spectator

‘An engaging, continuously interesting book, and an encouraging one. It is full of good stories and I don’t think anyone could read it without having his or her understanding deepened and sympathies engaged’ – Allan Massie

Beautifully written and full of heart. Kate Clanchy has written a love letter to teachers everywhere, to remind us all that as children we begin with tolerance and love’ – Christie Watson, author of The Language of Kindness


Kate Clanchy

Kate Clanchy is a writer, teacher and journalist. Her poetry collection Slattern won a Forward Prize. Her short story ‘The Not-Dead and the Saved’ won both the 2009 BBC National Short Story Award and the VS Pritchett Memorial Prize. Her novel Meeting the English was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award. Her BBC 3 radio programme about her work with students was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes prize. In 2018 she was awarded an MBE for services to literature, and an anthology of her students’ work, England: Poems from a School, was published to great acclaim. In 2019 she published Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me, a book about her experience of teaching in state schools for several decades, which won the Orwell Prize for Political Writing; and in 2020 published How to Grow Your Own Poem, which Hollie McNish described as ‘the best book I’ve read about how to practise writing poetry’.