Craft of Writing

Craft of Writing is part of a broader programme of work entitled ‘Learning about Culture’, which aims to improve the evidence base around arts-based education programmes. This is coordinated by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Royal Society for the Arts.

Teachers will work with professional writers over two weekend residential stays to develop their own confidence and identity as writers. In addition, teachers will learn about the processes and techniques used by professional writers. Between the residential stays, teachers will attend three training days to help them use these techniques in their teaching of writing.

Professors Deborah Myhill (Exeter) and Teresa Cremin (Open University), who are internationally recognised as experts in writing research, will lead the project. They will do this in partnership with the charity, Arvon, which has extensive experience of providing writing retreats with professional writers.

Why are we funding it?

This project builds on an earlier Arts Council-funded ‘Teachers as Writers’ research project. The evaluation suggested that although teachers developed their confidence and identities as writers, leading to markedly increased motivationtowards writing amongst students, it did not improve student attainment. In response, the programme has been adapted to include three CPD days, which will more explicitly teach the craft of writing and will support teachers in transferring that learning to the classroom with the goal of improving pupils’ writing.

The writing techniques, or strategies, that teachers will learn and the new craft of writing framework that teachers will use are similar to those used in an earlier promising EEF trial. There is extensive evidence showing the impact of using writing composition strategies and the approach is included in the EEF’s primary literacy guidance reports.

This project builds on an earlier Arts Council-funded ‘Teachers as Writers’ research project. The evaluation suggested that although teachers developed their confidence and identities as writers, leading to markedly increased motivationtowards writing amongst students, it did not improve student attainment. In response, the programme has been adapted to include three CPD days, which will more explicitly teach the craft of writing and will support teachers in transferring that learning to the classroom with the goal of improving pupils’ writing.

The writing techniques, or strategies, that teachers will learn and the new craft of writing framework that teachers will use are similar to those used in an earlier promising EEF trial. There is extensive evidence showing the impact of using writing composition strategies and the approach is included in the EEF’s primary literacy guidance reports.

How are we evaluating it?

Teams from The Behavioural Insights Team and The Institute of Education (UCL) have been appointed to conduct the evaluation. The trial will consist of a two-armed randomised controlled trial with teachers from 96 schools randomised to treatment or a business as usual control. The project will be targeted at Year 5 teachers.

The primary outcome will be a measure of children’s writing capability, which includes creative writing. A secondary character outcome will measure children’s writing self-efficacy. There will also be a cultural measure of ideation (children’s ability to generate ideas and articulate them to others) spanning all five cultural learning trials.

Teams from The Behavioural Insights Team and The Institute of Education (UCL) have been appointed to conduct the evaluation. The trial will consist of a two-armed randomised controlled trial with teachers from 96 schools randomised to treatment or a business as usual control. The project will be targeted at Year 5 teachers.

The primary outcome will be a measure of children’s writing capability, which includes creative writing. A secondary character outcome will measure children’s writing self-efficacy. There will also be a cultural measure of ideation (children’s ability to generate ideas and articulate them to others) spanning all five cultural learning trials.

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation report will be published in Summer 2020.