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Why run a writing club with Ministry of Stories?

Engaging students with creative writing can sometimes be difficult, but have no fear! We can help make magic happen – whether it’s at Ministry of Stories in one of our out-of-school clubs or in your classroom. Our writing clubs are designed to get students buzzing and enthusiastic about learning. Each term students attend a weekly club led by a professional writer. They leave with new ideas and actions which they can apply to keep growing and getting better.

We offer workshops that:

  • Support every student, with a high adult:child ratio
  • Get them excited about writing and powerfully motivate disengaged students.
  • Provide every child with a bespoke, professional-quality publication
  • Complement teachers’ work in their delivery of the statutory requirements (English framework)

Our Impact

On a scale of 1-5 (with 1 being not successful and 5 being very successful) teachers gave us these ratings:

  • The quality of teaching/facilitation: 4.5
  • The structure and pace of the session: 4.4
  • The quality of writing produced: 4
  • The quality of the resources provided: 4.4
  • The MoS as a learning environment: 5
  • The engagement of the children: 4.8
  • Bringing fun and playfulness to writing: 4.9

How do we do it?

Mentoring
Every writing club we run is run by a professional writer and supported by trained writing mentors. Our volunteer mentors undergo thorough training in order to provide the best possible support and encouragement for young writers.

Each student will have the attention of a writing mentor who can help them get motivated, be a sounding board for ideas or offer some gentle encouragement. This high level of support allows each student to get the most out of our sessions.   

Motivation
We get children excited about every kind of storytelling. Children are genuinely motivated to write, thrilled by the prospect of being treated as professionals and having freedom to create and tell stories. We can work with hard-to-reach groups of students who are disengaged from writing, and get them fired up to put pen to paper.

Magic
In need of creative inspiration or new ideas to use in the classroom? Teachers leave our morning workshops as fired up as their students! We also provide CPD – which can be delivered to departments or the whole school – on using creative writing to improve confidence, motivation and literacy. And the lead teacher’s participation in our school writing clubs is ongoing year-round CPD that can feed into their personal development plan. 

How our workshops support the curriculum:

We get pupils motivated to write, with a clear sense of what makes a good story and how narrative devices can be used to full effect. This supports the English national curriculum in these key areas or writing:

Key stage 2:

Years 3 & 4

  • Draft and write, creating characters, setting and plot.
  • Evaluate and edit, assessing the effectiveness of writing.
  • Read aloud their own writing.

Years 5 & 6

  • Draft and write, describing settings, characters and atmosphere and integrating dialogue to convey character and advance the action.
  • Evaluate and edit, assessing the effectiveness of writing.

Key stage 3:

  • Write accurately, fluently, effectively and at length for pleasure and information, through stories, scripts, poetry and other imaginative writing.
  • Plan, draft, edit and proof-read.

At the end of our writing clubs, each of the students leaves with a real-world outcome (publication, podcast, speech delivered in Parliament, film – the list is endless) and with a sense of pride, achievement and joy.

Evidence of need

According to the National Literacy Trust report 2011 one in six people in the UK struggle with literacy, which means their reading and writing skills are below the level expected of an eleven year old. NLT’s 2018 wellbeing report found that children and young people who are the most engaged with literacy have better mental wellbeing than their peers who are the least engaged. Children who don’t enjoy writing are significantly more likely face barriers to writing than their peers who do enjoy writing, in particular, finding writing difficult. An estimated 370,000 parents in London struggle with literacy, which means around 1 in 5 parents may not be able to read confidently with their children.

External evaluations

UCL Institute of Education
Following a three year study of our work from 2012-15, the UCL Institute of Education reports that Ministry of Stories has a strong positive impact on creativity, motivation and communication skills in the young people we work with.

There was strong evidence from their report that our philosophies and ways of working enhanced our young writers’ ‘creativity expressed through writing’ and they found consistently high motivation as a result of our approach. There is also an indication that our work is having a positive influence on writing attainment. Download the full report here.

Previous evaluation
Our regular programme of school workshops and writing clubs was evaluated qualitatively by external consultants, and proved a success with teachers and pupils. On average, 100% of primary teachers surveyed rated the Ministry of Stories as a very successful learning environment, engaging children and producing high quality writing. 97% of pupils surveyed rated the experience positively. One teacher commented:

‘I think the session really helped those children who struggled with confidence when it came to writing. They were able to produce something really special that they were proud of and help them to realise they are all good writers.’

A sample case study of an 11 year old girl who attends the after school writing club reveals the following:

“Nia says she did not enjoy writing before MoS. At the beginning, she would try to complete tasks as quickly as possible and wouldn’t open up or allow herself to put time and personal effort in to writing something meaningful; she was keeping a distance, not confident to express ideas or try. However, this has changed. ‘Now, if I get asked to write a short story at school, guess how many paragraphs I write? TEN!’ she says with obvious pride. She is much more motivated to get involved, put time into her work and finish it.”

(Taken from ‘A Whole Mind of Writing: Evaluation Report 2010/11’ by Hannah Wilmot. Download full report here.)