Arts projects can help narrow the achievement gap, new research shows

Literature review from First Story, Paper Nations and LKMco explores what schools can do to support creative writing.

New research, funded by Arts Council England’s Creative Writing in Schools Strategic Fund, shows that arts projects can help reduce the gap in academic achievement between rich and poor students.

The research, released on 20th July by LKMco, First Story and Paper Nations, explores how schools currently develop young people’s creative writing, and how the impact of creative writing interventions could be strengthened.

It suggests that while successive governments have focused on raising literacy standards, this has been at the expense of cultivating interest in and excitement about writing.

The review is one part of a three-year collaboration between the organisations, exploring how the delivery and impact of creative writing projects can be enhanced. It examines six key themes:

1. Sustainability

2. Engagement

3. Skill development

4. Best practice and pedagogy for creative writing

5. Networks

6. Valuing creative writing

While the review does not indicate that there is a ‘silver bullet’ for success in creative writing projects in schools, it does examine steps schools can take to boost pupils’ participation in and enjoyment of creative writing. Examples include working collaboratively with other schools, or partners and sharing ideas, or even staff, as well as making special efforts to boost teachers’ confidence so they feel more comfortable writing creatively in front of pupils.

In a separate article for the National Association of Writers in Education, writer Caleb Parkin builds on the literature review and talks about the existing barriers to young people developing their creative writing and why creative writing matters that he’s observed while working in schools. Find that article here (only accessible to NAWE members).

The report was commissioned by First Story and Paper Nations and was written by Eleanor Bernardes and Loic Menzies of LKMco, the education and youth ‘think and action-tank’.

Read the report here. Share your thoughts on the literature and on creative writing in schools with us via Twitter.

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