First Story exists because access to quality cultural education is not distributed equally across the country or in education settings. We work together with teachers, professional writers and others, providing opportunities for under-served young people to participate in enriching creative writing activities.
All children should have the chance to develop their talents. Poorer children shouldn’t get a worse choice.
2019 Ofsted Inspection Framework
Our vision and mission
Every young person deserves to reap the benefits of a rich creative education. When we nurture a greater diversity of voices, and support young people from underrepresented communities to flourish and be heard, society benefits too.
Our vision is a society that encourages and supports young people from all backgrounds to practice creative writing for pleasure, self-expression and agency. Our mission is to assist young people experiencing disadvantage to advance in life and realise their potential, by providing extracurricular support and enrichment activities that foster their creativity, literacy and talent, whilst developing confidence, skills and cultural capital.
Our flagship Young Writers Programme places inspiring professional writers in residence in non-selective secondary schools serving low-income communities. Our writers work intensively over an academic year with a consistent group of students, towards publication of a printed anthology. Regular national competitions and events, plus resources, training and support for teachers, complement our core provision.
Participants in a First Story group are encouraged to develop their unique voice and taught to tell their own stories with confidence and skill. Our growing portfolio of exclusive opportunities for First Story alumni provides a progression pipeline for talent.
Delivery principles underpinning our work
We value the agency and authentic voices of young people. Empowering and amplifying young people’s voices is at the heart of our work; we want for them to be heard in society and to inform what we do.
Our young people deserve the highest standards. We support them to be rigorous in their writing and ambitious. We commit to professional presentation of their work.
Inclusion is our driving force. We champion equality of access and opportunity. We are committed to providing support and opportunities that help to ‘level the playing field’ for young people from under-resourced and underrepresented communities. Our people and partners should represent diverse experience too.
We are an agile, open and collaborative organisation. Delivery partners, sharing our values, are essential to the quality of our offer and we embrace working with others to achieve the best outcomes for young people.
Why writing matters
There is pleasure in telling your own story. There is power and agency too.
Cultural and creative activities are essential to support young people’s social and emotional learning and the development of vital non-cognitive skills that underpin learning, aspiration, progress and attainment. Creative writing fosters experimentation, risk and resilience; it cultivates curiosity and play, whilst teaching self-discipline and persistence. Writing regularly can support mental health and wellbeing, as much as furthering literacy and attainment.
We are incredibly grateful to have the support of our Patron, Camilla, The Queen Consort, who is a passionate promoter of literacy in the UK and internationally.
I firmly believe that nurturing a passion for reading and writing is vital to the health of our country. As patron of First Story I am delighted that it continues to foster and inspire the creativity and talent of young people in secondary schools serving low-income communities.
HRH The Duchess of Cornwall