Three years ago, we were thrilled to have been awarded a Creative Writing in Schools grant for £600,000 by Arts Council England. The grant enabled us to expand our current national creative-writing programme in the North and the South West.

During that time, alongside Paper Nations who were also awarded the Creative Writing in Schools grant, we’ve directly served around 3,000 children and young people aged 8-14 in areas of high deprivation across the North and South West of England. First Story has also been able to establish 65 new school residencies, published over 50 anthologies and developed and published the First Story Writers’ Guide. We also, along with a host of partners, designed and launched a new open access platform to promote Creative Writing in Schools through the UK’s first ever National Writing Day.

‘For the past three years First Story has expanded our reach, placing more writers in schools than we’ve ever done before. The learning from this evaluation will inform how we build upon our network of writers towards making the benefits, and pleasure, of creative writing accessible to as many young people as we can.’

Linda Craig, Director at First Story

Today, Arts Council England has released the findings and recommendations from an independent evaluation, conducted by LKMco, which determined the outcomes and impact of the programme.

You can read the full report here.

‘We are delighted that Paper Nations and First Story will be sharing replicable delivery and business models as the legacy of the Creative Writing in Schools programme, to inform, inspire, and support more children and young people to write creatively and for pleasure, in and outside school.’

Sarah Crown, Literature Director at Arts Council England

In the coming weeks, we’ll pull out some specific and detailed recommendations from the report but, for now, we’re sharing the report in its entirety and listing the main findings and recommendations.

The main findings are:

  • Young people and teachers valued writing for the pleasure it gives, rather than for its benefits in improving technical accuracy.
  • Creative writing networks played a vital role in bringing writers and schools together, and helping writers share knowledge, resources and opportunities.
  • The programme helped pupils feel more confident as writers, which also increased their confidence in wider school life.

The key recommendations are:

  • Structured support from a professional writer helps build young people’s confidence and overcome initial fears of writing, develop positive relationships with adults and peers, and express themselves more authentically on the page and with their peers.
  • Writers enjoy working with young people because they want to pass on their love for writing and value developing their teaching skills, but securing fair pay presents a substantial challenge (while also striving for widespread access to creative writing opportunities for pupils). Greater knowledge and coordination about pay is needed to make creative writing in schools viable in the long run.
  • Future work should prioritise involving groups of young people and teachers who are not initially curious about or inclined to get involved in creative writing.

‘With opportunities for children to write creatively in schools in decline, Paper Nations’ goal was to produce evidence-backed resources to help sustain and expand the culture of support for creative writing. Without partnerships between local and national organisations, our work would not have succeeded. Following on from the recommendations of the LKMco report, we look forward to sharing the resources that we have co-created through this programme.’

Bambo Soyinka, Executive Producer, Paper Nations, Bath Spa University

Stay tuned as we’ll be sharing resources to encourage more schools and writer development organisations to support children and young people to write creatively.

Download full press release here


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