What We Do

Every year at First Story we are proud to do the following:

  • Nurture the development of young people’s creative writing:
    Particularly in areas of deprivation and disadvantage
  • Work with some of the UK’s most prestigious writers:
    From award-winning novelists to celebrated short story authors and performance poets
  • Provide training and skills development opportunities:
    For writers, teachers, librarians and literacy professionals
  • Act as a bridging point:
    etween young people and the wider literary community through literary festivals, university events and other collaborations

We focus on working with schools in which more than 50% of pupils are considered deprived according to the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index and/or GCSE results fall in the lowest third of the national distribution.

Download our full brochure here.


The key elements of the First Story programme are:

  • Writers-in-Residence: Engaging and intensive residencies for secondary schools in low-income communities. Students work with an acclaimed author, culminating in a professionally published anthology and a celebratory book launch event.
  • Regional Writing Events: Inspiring annual events in each of our regions, bringing First Story schools and writers together.
  • Young Writers’ Festival: A day of workshops, showcases and Q&A sessions for up to 1,000 young people in a prestigious location, all delivered by award-winning writers.
  • Continuing Professional Development: CPD tailored to the needs of writers, educators and literacy professionals.
  • Residential with Arvon: A select number of First Story students are awarded Fellowships to attend an intensive residential writing course with Arvon.
  • Universities and Festivals: Events in collaboration with organisations around the country, giving young people the chance to write and perform together in new environments.

Throughout the year we offer additional opportunities for students and staff including author visits from Royal Society of Literature Fellows, publishing students’ work in regular newsletters and work experience placements. We offer schools and writers high-profile media exposure through our national and regional links, and a host of other opportunities through our national and regional partner organisations.

Since its beginnings, First Story has arranged 317 residencies in secondary schools serving low-income areas. In these schools, 273 acclaimed authors have teamed up with 470 teachers and librarians to deliver regular workshops across the academic year. 6,140 students have taken part in the weekly workshops, 5,190 teachers have been trained in Continuing Professional Development sessions, and an estimated 147,300 original stories and poems have been produced, spanning 320 anthologies, 150 postcards, and seven award-winning six-word stories printed on pencils, plus many pieces winning national and international competitions.


We currently offer the following models of access to the programme:

  • Year-Long: A full year’s residency and access to all additional opportunities
  • Term-Long: A residency across one term with a complementary selection of activities
  • Week-Long: An intensive full week of engagement with a writer-in-residence

For  details of how to take part in First Story, as a school, writer or member of the team visit our Work With Us section.

First Story has been an absolutely wonderful chance for our students, especially considering they are on free school meals, live in tough areas and have really challenging lives. It has been a chance for them to really express themselves and to develop a love of language, of writing, to enjoy reading and the process of expressing themselves in a way that is so safe and so freeing. (First Story teacher)