A transformative experience for participating students. Inspiring support for teachers. An invaluable partnership for the whole school.
Our year-long enrichment provision combines deep learning for a core cohort, with opportunities for the whole school to benefit from writing creatively. It’s a fun and fulfilling extracurricular programme, including workshops, events, competitions, training and support for teachers, plus exceptional progression routes for participants.
Professional writer in residence
Our provision is delivered by talented and experienced authors, poets and playwrights, assigned as each partner school’s ‘Writer-in-Residence’ for a year. As well as facilitating 16 weeks of workshops, editing the First Story group’s anthology and closely supporting the lead teacher, our writers are visible and inspiring role-models, boosting the profile of creative writing around the school.
Weekly writing workshops
Weekly First Story group workshops are a trusted space where young people can creatively explore identity and experience — supporting participants’ social and emotional learning. Over 16 weeks, structured sessions cover writing in different forms, observing objects, and examining characters, places and social ideas. Students are encouraged to tell the stories they want to tell, and to experiment with language and style, without worrying about marking criteria. Confidence grows and writing ability develops.
Our extended offer for First Story participants includes termly competitions and events. ‘Connect’ events connect young writers in a region with each other and with promote local higher education opportunities. Our annual Young Writers Festival in March brings together up to 400 young writers from across England. With prestigious delivery partners including universities and publishers, these opportunities expand horizons and support developing cultural capital.
Published anthology and celebration
First Story groups work collaboratively towards publication of a printed anthology. Empowered with agency throughout the process, participants choose which pieces to include — learning how to edit, revise and improve their own writing — and together decide their anthology’s title and cover art. Copies are gifted to participants and the school’s library, with a copy sent to the British Library. Their achievement as published authors is typically celebrated at a launch event attended by families and communities.
Wider school engagement
First Story’s extended offer, including national competitions and events, provides regular opportunities for partner schools to engage their whole school community in creative writing for pleasure, self expression and agency. Our Writers-in-Residence and local programme managers offer support to partner schools and First Story students to organise their own creative writing initiatives to mark key dates such as National Writing Day.
Training, resources and support for teachers
Equipping teachers with the confidence, knowledge and skills to teach creative writing to a high standard is central to our mission. First Story’s offer for teachers includes complementary CPD training, access to free teaching resources and ongoing support. Lead teachers work closely with our Writers-in-Residence, benefiting from access to their expertise and developing increased enjoyment of creative writing themselves, as they develop their own confidence and skill as practitioners.
Exclusive progression pathways for alumni
Through our portfolio of progression routes for First Story alumni, we offer ongoing support for young people and exclusive access to participate in transformative extracurricular opportunities.Students who complete our workshops programme are invited to apply for exceptional development opportunities, including fully-funded places to attend a summer residential course at Arvon; one-to-one mentoring by a professional writer through the Rathbones Folio scheme; a role as a First Story Ambassador; public speaking and performance at festivals and events; careers guidance and work experience placements.