Our Impact

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First Story changes lives through writing.  We believe that creative writing is valuable to young people and that many benefits and positive characteristics flow from it, such as creativity, confidence, self-expression and increased aspiration.


We’ve been busy the last decade. Below are some of the highlights:

Across 2015-18, we ran two separate evaluation projects to assess our impact, in conjunction with the Arts Council England’s Creative Writing in Schools Strategic Funding. The first project was conducted with the youth and education think tank LKMco to evaluate the impact of the First Story programme over three years. LKMco’s findings confirm that young people and their educators receive great benefit from First Story’s presence in their community.

You can read the full report here.

Results for 2016-17 showed that young people on the programme derive great pleasure from being creative, but also believe it improves their school work.  In the same study, teachers attested to improvements in their students’ reading, confidence, task-based resilience and self-expression.

Here are some of the specific findings from our programme evaluation in 2016-17:

Skills and enjoyment – the students’ perspective: 

  • 82% of First Story students saw creative writing as worthwhile because it helped them learn new things in school (in addition to learning in the First Story writing group)
  • 81% of students enjoyed writing creatively

Skills and resilience – the teachers’ perspective:

  • 90% of teachers believed that participating in First Story improved students’ ability to express themselves
  • 80% of teachers saw first-hand that it improved students’ attainment
  • 65% of teachers saw an improvement in students’ reading
  • Every single teacher believed that participating in First Story had improved students’ wellbeing


  • Participating teachers were 17% more likely to feel that they had high quality tools and resources for teaching creative writing
  • An increase of 25% of participating teachers strongly agreed that their teaching supported students to write creatively

The second research project ran in 2016-17. Researcher Pat Cochrane observed eight of First Story’s most accomplished writers-in-residence delivering sessions and highlighted some shared practices among them. The full research report is available here. 

First Story’s year in numbers

  • 65 residencies ( a total of 385 since First Story began)
  • 1,242 students participated in weekly writing groups ( a total of 5,892 since First Story began)
  • 62 anthologies of new writing by young people
  • 98 teachers and librarians supported First Story groups each week and 997 teachers trained in dedicated Continuing Professional Development sessions
  • 1,028 students attended the Young Writers’ Festival or a Regional Writing Event and 48 students awarded fellowships to attend the First Story summer residential course with Arvon
  • Over 3,000 students from 107 schools participated in our National Writing Competition
  • 1,336 books donated to First Story through our collaboration with Give A Book
  • An estimated 7,000 people attended a National Writing Day event across the UK, with 28 million people reached via social media on the day

In 2017-18, First Story will run 85 residencies in secondary schools serving low-income communities, and work directly with 1944 students.  Another 6000 other students will engage with our work through whole-school activities, National Writing Day and regional writing events.

We will work directly with 98 teachers and librarians on a weekly basis and with almost 1,000 teachers in total in dedicated Continuing Professional Development sessions in their schools or with partner organisations including the National Association for the Teaching of English, the Prince’s Teaching Institute and Teach First, helping to enhance creative writing teaching practices in non-First Story schools across the country.

Read the First Story Theory of Change



First Story has changed my life. It has transformed me from an insecure, lost, quiet, sixteen-year-old refugee, completely embarrassed about every aspect of her identity, to a confident, defiant, ambitious, proud Scottish-African Muslim woman, who is determined to shape her future, and make life better for
those around her. It has made me realise that I am significant, and that my voice is important in this world. Azfa took part in the First Story creative-writing programme at her school in Oxford with Writer-in-Residence Kate Clanchy. Read her full story here.

Read more testimonials about First Story here.