Once upon a Thought – Summer Course 

The Course

Once upon a Thought™ – For the writers and thinkers of tomorrow.


The “What”

Once upon a Thought™ is a unique and exclusive two-week residential creative writing and storytelling workshop for 15-17 year old students run by Magic Lanterns Academy (MLA) and held at Battle Abbey High School in England.


Course Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will have:

  • Produced a personal project in the form of a written work that will be an impressive addition to their university application profile.
  • Completed the foundation course to a year-long online writing course with the goal of writing a novel or other piece of literary work by the end of summer 2020.
  • The skills to successfully articulate bold and original thinking.


The “Who”

The course leaders:

Sally Gardner

Sally is an award-winning author from London whose books have been translated into 22 languages and she’s sold over 1.5 million copies in the UK. She was awarded the 2013 Carnegie medal and the Costa Children’s Book Award for her book Maggot Moon. She has been described as‘an idiosyncratic genius’ by London’s Sunday Times.


Lesley Lim

Lesley is an educator and college counselor who has taught in the International Baccalaureate programme for many years and, in her role as college counselor, has specialized in guiding students write their optimum applications and gain admission to highly selective schools in the US, UK and Europe. Lesley is currently working as a college counselor at one of the premier international college counselling firms based in London and New York City.


The “Why”

At the core of Once upon a Thought™ is the belief that only by adventuring into one’s imagination and exploring the art of storytelling will aspiring writers be able to soar beyond the banal. The course will be an extraordinary experience for students offering:

  • The artistic and academic challenge of producing a personal project.
  • The opportunity to engage in a super-curricular activity that encourages the pursuit of a passion.
  • The chance to tap into their imaginative powers, which are often not fostered in the traditional curriculum of schools.
  • Tutorship and mentorship by a celebrated author Sally Gardner.
  • Workshops and face-to-face interactions with other highly respected British authors.
  • A rich cultural experience through exposure to iconic landmarks in the history and culture of the UK.
  • The prospect of forming lasting bonds with students from around the globe.


More Whys & Wherefores

Storytelling and Imagination

At the core of Once upon a Thought™ is the belief that only by adventuring into one’s imagination and exploring the art of storytelling will writers be able to express their unique creativity. We are story-led animals; we wake up in the morning and we want the news – we want a story. We all have our own powerful story that we are defined by. It is our story that makes us shine. As we progress from the innocence of childhood we lose a connection with our imagination and intuitive thinking. Sally is passionate about the power of imagination, which she believes is best explored through the classic genre of storytelling. For Sally, the only way to make the imagination grow is through story, through play, through believing the impossible to be real and making it so. Once upon a Thought™ will use fairy tales as the starting point for learning the art of storytelling. Fairy tales are a concise and eloquent way of telling a story. Every culture through time has used folklore in the form of fairy tales, mythologies and fables to help us make sense of the world. Within these little pearls, lie the potential to release one’s imagination and develop one’s own ideas. Beginning at the beginning, this course will help our students to reclaim their story and to think in wondrous and limitless ways. 

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairytales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Albert Einstein



The “Where”

Classes will be held at Battle Abbey School, which is an independent boarding school located in Battle, East Sussex, UK. The village of Battle is situated in the heart of the picturesque English countryside and is teeming with centuries of history. Battle Abbey, built almost 1000 years ago, takes its name from the town and was founded to commemorate the Battle of Hastings: the bloody and legendary battle in which William the Conqueror took control of England in 1066. The Battle Abbey School is situated in the building of the Abbey itself! In the words of the head teacher at Battle Abbey School “A glimpse through its enchanting gatehouse tells you that you are not only in a historically significant place, but also in a school that has an incomparable character.” Students will be housed in one of the school’s boarding houses a short distance from campus. Well-loved castles such as Leeds, Bodiam and Hever are within easy striking distance of the village. Battle is also only an hour and a half from London by train – making the city very accessible for day trips.


The “When”

Summer 2019 Dates:

Session 1: 15th July – 28th July

Session 2: 29th July – 11th August


Spaces are limited to 16 students per session. It is advisable to apply as early as possible to ensure a place on the course.


For further information please contact us on:


Phone: +44 (0)748 1458 358


Mailing Address:

Magic Lanterns Academy

24-25 Alfred Street

St Leonards-On-Sea

East Sussex TN38 0HD

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