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Project information

Creative writing in schools

In a classroom in a challenging state school, fifteen students are busy laughing and scribbling alongside the school’s writer-in-residence. They are among hundreds of students who benefit from writer residences organised by First Story in challenging secondary schools in the UK.

September 2013 - July 2014

Charity information: First Story

First Story logo
  • Need


    Where money is no object, schools value the impact of creative instruction. Schools like the American School in London and Eton College pay a high premium for writer-in-residence programmes. Schools located in areas of multiple economic deprivation struggle with poor exam performance and low attendance rates, while having the least access to creative instruction. Young people at these schools are afforded few opportunities to develop confidence and voice through creative activities.


    We aim to expand our programme into a new school to build on our existing network. We will bring literary and extracurricular activities to the heart of this school. The author will lead weekly after-school workshops for two terms. We will publish an anthology of the students’ work and arrange public readings. Through our project we aim to change the culture of state schools and spark students' independent interest in reading and creativity.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To support and inspire students aged 14-18, by building self-confidence, skills and aspiration.


    » Organise a Writer-in-Residence to lead extra-curricular writing workshops in the school.
    » Publish an anthology of students' work, and organise a launch event for students, teachers and families.

    What success will look like

    Success will be completing a writer residency at a new school, and publishing an anthology of the students' work.

    Aim 2

    To support teachers as they embed a culture of literacy in the school.


    » To encourage participating teachers to partake in workshops, and write alongside students and writer-in-residence.
    » Assist the school in hosting public readings at which students can read aloud to friends, families and teachers.

    What success will look like

    Success will be hosting a public reading event at the school in which all the students partake, and 50-100 visitors from the wider community attend.

  • Impact


    Feedback from students, teachers and parents suggests that students are reading more, thinking more creatively and growing in self-confidence and resilience. An evaluation of available data has shown that First Story students’ grades have risen beyond those of their peers in comparison with their predicted grades. Student attendance has also improved. We will work closely with schools to collect feedback and quantitative data through which we can measure students’ progress in the above areas.


    The main risks are that writers could drop out of the programme, or else struggle to effectively lead the students in workshops. We have a wide network of writers and literary contacts which means we have a number of fallback options. We also have a large alumni of First Story writers, and 5 years experience of running workshops, which enables us to provide support to any writers struggling on the programme.


    Donors to this project will receive a monthly email newsletter (optional) informing them of progress in our schools.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £5,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £4,000 Writer Grant Individual grant to a writer for a minimum of sixteen sessions at school
      £1,000 Anthology production Design, production and printing of the anthology
  • Background


    Our project is currently located in London, Oxford and the East Midlands. We are looking to expand into new schools which meet our criteria of ‘challenging’. 'Challenging' refers to schools in which more than 50% of pupils are considered deprived according to the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) or in which GCSE results fall in the lowest third of the national distribution. We are also looking to expand into cities that do not have a similar provision of creative programme.


    The beneficiaries are students, teachers, writers and schools in six challenging schools. With limited access to creative instruction, students will benefit from working creatively alongside writers. Teachers will have the opportunity to foster relations with students and writers, and reinvigorate their own writing and teaching practices. Schools will progress towards embedding creativity and extra-curricular activities in their culture.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have been running workshops in schools for five years, and have built up a large network of schools, teachers and writers. Since 2007, First Story has arranged for 150 authors to work with 56 teachers in 27 schools across the country. Some 1,150 students have been published across 50 anthologies and have written an estimated 18,400 stories and poems!

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Monica Parle, National Director

    Monica will manage the programme, be the first point of contact for writers and teachers and will oversee the production of the anthologies.

    Katie Lee, Office Administrator

    Katie will ensure the smooth running of the project administration, including the finances, meeting coordination for the teachers and writers.

    Katie Waldegrave, Executive Director

    Katie will work with the National Director to place writers in the schools and will chair teacher and writer meetings and events.

    Kirstie Miller, Fundraising Officer

    Kirstie will oversee fundraising for the projects.


pays for a child to become a published writer

First Story is a fantastic idea... it offers young people something else. It helps them find a voice.

Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time