"All children should have the chance to develop their talents.
Poorer children shouldn’t get a worse choice."
-- 2019 OFSTED INSPECTION FRAMEWORK
Founded in 2008 by a teacher and a writer, First Story's mission is to assist young people experiencing disadvantage to advance in life and realise their potential, by providing extracurricular support and enrichment activities that nurture students' creativity, literacy and talent, whilst also developing confidence, transferable skills and cultural capital.
We work with students aged 11-18, exclusively in non-selective secondary schools in low income communities. At least 70% of our participants are eligible for free school meals. Others face barriers to learning such as speaking English as an additional language. At least 40% of our cohorts identify as from a minority ethnic background, including Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Roma, African and Caribbean. We also work with excluded pupils in Alternative Provision settings.
The cornerstone of our activity is our Young Writers Programme, which places talented professional writers in residence in partner schools for a year. Writers work intensively with a consistent group of students, delivering six months of after-school creative writing workshops. Regular events and competitions add to our core offer and the year culminates in the publication of a printed anthology by each First Story group. Our programme is unique in transforming aspiring young writers into published authors with their own book in the collection of the British Library.
The First Story experience enables young people to form their own writer identities, find their voice as authors, and hone their writing craft in ways they would not otherwise have the chance to do. No other literacy organisation in England offers a comparable quality, richness and depth of creative writing provision. Robust evaluation evidences the impact of our programme in increasing confidence, enhancing creativity, and improving writing ability. Participants develop attitudes, skills and behaviours that assist them to thrive in education and beyond. Read more about our impact here.
Our growing portfolio of exclusive opportunities for our programme alumni — in partnership with prestigious arts organisations like Arvon and Folio — ensures an accessible progression pipeline for talent. First Story students have gone on to appear on the BBC, perform at major arts festivals, win awards including Foyle Young Poets, the Eric Gregory Award and Clore Fellowship, and publishing deals with Usborne and Faber & Faber.
Explore more of what we do at firststory.org.uk.
First Story is a registered charity number 1122939 and company number 0648741