Regional Writing Events spark creativity, broaden horizons and raise aspirations
Collaborating with local museums, galleries and universities, we create unique experiences for First Story students, while reinforcing that participation in the arts and higher education is possible.
Writing in situ, inspired by the surrounding environment, art and objects, students experience the potential of literature and poetry in new and exciting contexts.
By exploring their critical and emotional responses, participants learn the value of self-expression, as they develop their appreciation of creative writing for pleasure.
Our Regional Writing Events usually take place during the spring term, with at least one event held in each of our three operating regions: London, the East Midlands and the North of England.
The day is typically structured in three parts. Groups begin with a tour of the venue, exploring the specific environment, alongside some experiential learning. Afterwards our writers lead a practical writing session, inspired by what the group has just experienced. To close the day, students read and share their new work with the group.
All our events have a strong education focus. Regional Writing Events are planned in close collaboration with professionals from the partner venue. Students learn from on-site specialists, who contribute their expertise to deliver tours and talks.
You might not think Ancient Egypt and present-day south London would have much in common, but a visit to University College London gave students a reason to pause and think about this. Love, hope, fear, greed, violence, anger, laughter, dreams, ambition… The Ancient Egyptian artefacts held at the Petrie museum at UCL demonstrate all the strong emotions and motivations of human society throughout history. That realisation, that we humans have the same drives and behaviour across time and space, whether among the pyramids of the Egyptian desert or the streets of Lewisham today, is an important one, and is something students embraced as a group for their anthology.ANTHONY CARTWRIGHT, WRITER-IN-RESIDENCE
We deliberately assign an unfamiliar First Story writer to lead a Regional Writing Event, rather than students’ Writer-in-Residence, so that they experience different styles and approaches to creative writing.
Participants also get to meet young people from other schools in their region, in turn feeling part of a wider community of young writers.
“Schools which ensure pupils have access to memorable life experiences, outside normal life and school routines, and also actively nurtured pupils’ authentic voices, are more likely to narrow the attainment gap for disadvantaged young people.”
‘Closing the Gap’: Raising Achievement for Disadvantaged Pupils, University of Warwick Centre for Education Studies, 2016
Regional Writing Events: drivers and impacts
- They inspire and facilitate young people’s creative practice, in an unfamiliar setting unrelated to the curriculum.
- They demonstrate that writing can be for pleasure and self-expression — and that it can happen anywhere.
- They encourage students to see their own work as part of a continuum of creative expression, promoting a greater sense of connection to arts and heritage.
- They enable free access to spaces that can feel privileged and ‘out of bounds’, increasing young people’s sense of entitlement to access cultural spaces.
- They nurture critical thinking skills by inviting and respecting critical responses.
Previous events have been held at respected venues including the National Gallery, the Courtauld Gallery, and UCL’s Grant and Petrie Museums.