Creative writing charity Arvon has been awarded close to £160,000 from a new research grant from Arts Council England for a project about writers and teachers.
Arvon will use its £159,188 for the two-year project, investigating the impact that bringing teachers and writers together has on the writing development of the teachers’ students. The project will be carried out in partnership with University of Exeter and the Open University.
Arvon said it was the first study internationally to “rigorously evaluate the impact of teachers’ development as writers on students as writers”.
Teachers as Writers will work with 16 teachers of students aged between eight and 14, living in areas of socio-economic disadvantage in rural and coastal areas of south-west England. The teachers will go to Totleigh Barton, Arvon’s Devon centre, for a residential writing week led by professional authors, who will continue to mentor the teachers as they return to the classroom. The teachers’ and their students’ writing development will be evaluated over this period.
Ruth Borthwick, chief executive of Arvon, said: “Teachers regularly report that Arvon supports them to develop their teaching and inspires pupils to see beyond writing as a compulsory task to an essential life skill and a vital form of self-expression. We receive exceptional feedback about the impact of our residential weeks. Now, working with our research partners, the University of Exeter and the Open University, we will be able to measure these effects on pupils for the first time. Ultimately our aim is to develop our reach to benefit more young people in the rest of the country.”
Arvon will work with partners to reach schools where students may have least access to arts and culture.
Professors Teresa Cremin of The Open University and Debra Myhill of the University of Exeter, said in a statement: "We are delighted to be undertaking this research with the Arvon. Listening to the voices of professional writers, and teachers and their students as writers will be a privilege, and will contribute to new knowledge about what it means to be a writer and how and why identity, talk and informed feedback matter.”
Last summer Arvon took a 10% cut in real terms of its National Portfolio funding from the Arts Council.
But in February this year it received a £236,200 grant from Arts Council England’s small scale capital funding programme to support its plans for improvements across three rural residential writers’ centres.