Arts Council England is set to award Bath Spa University with £600,000 in funding to develop creative writing education in schools across the South West of England.
The grant is from the Creative Writing in Schools fund, and will support a three-year project called The Creative Writing Education Hub.
This project will be led by the university in partnership with Bath Festivals and the National Association of Writers in Education. The project aims to link nationally recognised writers with hundreds of schools in the region.
As part of the project, children aged eight to 14 will be given workshops by professional writers, thereby helping them to write and expand their imagination.
Alongside the programme, a series of workshops for teachers and writers will run concurrently to the schools programme, thereby helping to try and develop new approaches to teaching creative writing.
Participating schools will receive support to achieve an ‘Artsmark Award’, and pupils will receive help to achieve an ‘Arts Award’.
Phil Gibby, South West area director for Arts Council England, said: “We believe that every child and young person should have the opportunity to experience the richness of arts and culture and this funding will give more young people the chance to engage in and enjoy producing and showcasing their own creative writing.
“The consortium boasts some of the South West’s expert educators, researchers and writers whose joint leadership will make for a strong and unique programme of work.”
Bambo Soyinka, creative director of the project, said: “Creative writing should be part of every child’s education as it develops imaginative thought, language and literary skills.
“The Creative Writing Education Hub will introduce school pupils from varied social and cultural backgrounds to the joys of creative writing and will enable young people to learn alongside professional writers.
“Over the next three years we will be researching and testing best practice models for creative writing education.
“We will share our findings through innovative events, workshops and digital platforms, to guide and inspire teachers, pupils and creative writing tutors.”
Bath Spa University is one of two lead applicants awarded a grant from the Creative Writing in Schools fund.
The other successful applicant, First Story, will use a grant of £600,000 to bring professional writers into secondary schools serving low income communities.
This fund targets the North and the South West because these are areas outside London where creative writing opportunities for children and young people could be improved.
Professor Wu says: “Projects like this are absolutely crucial in a society increasingly devoid of imagination – and a stunted ability to think outside the box. Evidence suggests that creative writing – and, indeed, creativity and art in all its myriad forms – can improve a child’s enjoyment and attainment in English language and literature.”
“What is more, by encouraging children to think creatively, we encourage them to look at the world in new and interesting ways, which is critical for human society as a whole. Just think of those wise words of Albert Einstein: Logic will take you from A to B, but imagination will take you anywhere.”