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School Visits

Helen worked as a Key Stage 2 teacher at the largest junior school in Europe for twenty years. For many of these she was Head of English with special responsibility for Talented and Gifted provision. 

notebookHelen is published by Hodder Children’s Books. Her fiction series SECRET BREAKERS is aimed at readers aged 8 plus. RIVER OF INK is aimed at readers aged 10 plus. She will happily visit schools giving talks and workshops based on both series across both Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3. She is also happy to give talks to adults, parents’ groups, and writing organisations etc and all visits can be adapted to work online if preferred.

Assemblies can be tailored to fit alongside school programmes or can stand alone. After the assemblies, Helen is happy to give a Q&A session and stay to sign copies of her books which can be ordered beforehand. (No number restriction for assemblies.)

If you want to extend the visit, Helen offers a variety of workshops and is willing to tailor sessions to your particular needs. These sessions are ideal for class groups or larger groups in a large space, or could be used for smaller extension sessions for groups of selected children eg: Pupil Premium groups. Maximum group size for workshops = 50.


Workshop Details

(Workshops suitable for both Key Stage 2 and 3 adapted according to age of attendees)

Signs, Symbols & Secrets

As code cracking is integral to the plot of SECRET BREAKERS, and symbols form the basis for discovery in RIVER OF INK, this session looks at code cracking challenges throughout history and how symbols are used to hide information. Interactive activities using British Sign Language and Makaton are used and reference is made to symbols in art and architecture, as well as hiding information in code. A real ‘hands on’ session!

Weaving Fact & Fiction

Using a range of artefacts as stimulus as well as real stories and characters from history, Helen looks at how authors combine fact with fiction in their writing. Reference will be made to the real characters and locations used in both SECRET BREAKERS and RIVER OF INK. Pupils will be encouraged to make their own story suggestions and work on ideas that can be developed afterwards back in the classroom, or as home learning.

Memory & Mystery 

As River of Ink centres around the idea of a boy who has no memory of who he is, this workshop explores the idea of making sense of who we are using clues from belongings and possessions. Using deductive skills (rather like Sherlock Holmes) attendees will be invited in this interactive session to explore various artefacts from a suitcase and draw up a profile for a mystery character. This workshop could be used as a creative writing stimulus for future pupil work. It also develops links made to history and science skills when looking for information.

Key Stage 3

Workshops designed for key stage 3 students:

Alchemy, Ageing & Some Very Big Questions

This session looks at the history of alchemy and stories written about seeking the elixir of life. It focuses on the international quest of the pursuit to live forever, exploring the idea of alchemy versus science as well as the idea of eternal life being either a blessing or a curse. This is an ideal workshop for students wanting to discuss and debate ‘big ideas’ and how we find these ideas explored in fiction.

Diversity & Disability

Dante’s deafness in RIVER OF INK leads to sign language being used to help save the hero of the story! The inclusion of disabled people as complete characters in stories and not as token add-ons is an area ripe for discussion. This session looks at the idea of including all types of character in fiction and asks readers to think about the value of stories to help us learn about worlds that are not our own.

All the sessions are tailored to make reference to appropriate curriculum links across key stage 2 or key stage 3. Helen is willing to discuss individual school needs, so do make suggestions about what you would like covered. She is also willing to run sessions for parents about the importance of reading and ways to develop the reading habit.

School Visits

Booking Details

Helen’s visits are supported by the wonderful team at
Authors Aloud UK

For details on rates and to make a booking just ring  01727 893992, fill in the request form on their site or email

Authors Aloud help arrange the logistics of the visit, timing and travel and help make links with book-suppliers to provide stock for pupils and students to have the chance to buy. (It is expected that all events are supported by the opportunity for book sales).

Authors Aloud UK will streamline the whole process of booking by handling all the set up arrangements. Their fee is included in the invoice sent to you after the visit to limit unnecessary paperwork.


School Events Leaflet (pdf)

To give you an overview of what is possible see Helen’s ‘School’s Event Leaflet (PDF). This should let you know about the sorts of things that are possible to arrange…but Helen is always keen to be inventive so if your school has a particular need…then do let her know!



‘ The school is still buzzing from the visit!’
Lucy Keat, Librarian, Danes Hill School, Surrey

‘ Helen was brilliant!’
J Graver, West Lynn Primary School

‘She had Year 7 eating out of the palm of her hand’
Jane Hunt, Head of Literacy

View more testimonials


Don’t forget that ‘an author visit can contribute to the recommendations in the ‘Moving English Forward’ OfSTED report of March 2012.’


‘I was Helen’s publicist when her first book came out, and have been lucky enough to see her in action many times at schools, festivals, libraries and bookshops. I can say without reservation that Helen’s events are fantastic – they are educational whilst being brilliant fun; they’re very interactive, with lots of  ‘doing’ elements that children love; her events can work for different audiences sizes, from a workshop for 20 to a multi-schools theatre event. Helen also has great resources for teachers who want to use her books for follow up activities. I think Helen is the most enthusiastic and energised author I’ve worked with! I cannot recommend her events highly enough.’
Rebecca Logan, Publicity Manager, Hachette Children’s Group

‘ The school is still buzzing from the visit! In fact, everyone was so impressed that we would like to arrange for Helen to come back in September.’
Lucy Keat, Librarian, Danes Hill School, Surrey

‘ Helen was brilliant! The children really enjoyed learning and having a go at cracking codes. It was really interesting to see that the less able children were better at cracking codes than the more able. Great for their self esteem.’
J Graver, West Lynn Primary School

‘ Helen was lovely – warm, approachable and funny. She had Year 7 eating out of the palm of her hand – they were literally on their knees at times, desperate not to miss a single thing! Helen’s use of props was a fantastic way to engage the students who loved every minute. The workshop was equally good with the Year 7 students feeling confident enough to offer ideas and craft the opening of a story.’
Jane Hunt, Head of Literacy, Neatherd High School