For the past three years, Paper Nations has been working to bring about change in the creative writing sector through collaborative research and creative investigation. This work was achieved with Bath Festivals, The National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE), and Bath Spa University, as well as local writers, libraries, organisations, hospitals, schools, festivals, and arts centres.
We are proud to announce that, alongside First Story –who also received funding via Arts Council England’s Creative Writing in Schools Fund– we directly reached 3,000 children in over 120 schools across England participated in CWiS activities. Approximately a third of the young people involved were eligible for Pupil Premium funding.
Paper Nations, also engaged with a wider audience of over 20,000 young people, writers, parents, and educators through its collaboration with festivals and our network of online platforms.
Throughout this journey, our independent evaluators, LKMco, have worked in tandem with us to measure our impact. On January 25th, they released their evaluation.
The main findings:
- Young people and teachers value writing for the pleasure it gives, rather than for its benefits in improving technical accuracy.
- The Creative Writing in Schools programmes and activities that we co-developed helped many pupils feel more confident as writers, and in life.
- Young people writing less often than their peers at the beginning of CWiS wrote more often by the end of their involvement.
- Creative writing networks played a vital role in bringing writers and schools together, and helping writers share knowledge, resources and opportunities.
These findings underscore two of our most valued principles: that writing for fun has intrinsic worth, and that the best creative writing initiatives are run with a community approach and a network of partners to ensure everyone is supported.
It is through these networks that we conducted our research. The goal of our process of investigation was to create and establish replicable models for sustaining a culture of writing for young people. We wanted to provide evidence backed approaches to help young people, and those who support them, to begin and sustain the practice of writing. At the start of this journey we asked:
- What are the best known methods for supporting young people to develop and sustain a creative writing practice? How can we use grounded research to help us establish best practice and discover new methodologies?
- Can we create a suite of evidence based resources and models that encapsulate our research findings and inform parents, children and educators about good practice?
- Can we blend creative, educational and digital media techniques in an original way, so as to harness the power of communities and ensure that our new resources are used and replicated widely amongst young people, writers and educators?
With these questions in mind, we piloted an innovative educational scheme for writers and facilitators. Through this, we shared the first iteration of the Dare to Write? Model, enabling participants to develop their own writing initiatives and evaluate our models for writer development.
We ran a national audit of children’s creative writing provision. We pioneered techniques for teaching creative writing that emphasis playfulness, leading to the development of our nation-wide creative writing platform, Dare to Write?. We also produced events across the South West in local communities, and co-produced ‘StoryTown’, Corsham’s first writing festival.
All in all, we consulted with over 700 individuals and organisations. We will shortly release our final set of findings through a series of case studies and the Writer Development Cycle – a key industry sourcebook for educators, outlining best practice principles in writer development for emerging and experienced writers.
Paper Nations is a partnership initiative. Without the help of our consortium of partners, our work would not have succeeded.
We would like to take this moment to thank all those involved. Here’s to the next three years!
If you would like to hear more detail about the findings of our programme and the recommendations LKMco outline for the creative writing sector, download the executive summary or head to Arts Council England to read the full version.