“Teachers as Writers” research project to evaluate the impact of teachers’ development as writers on the writing of their students

02 Jun 2015 / News

Arvon is delighted to announce it has been awarded £159,188 from Arts Council England’s new Research Grant for a two year research project that will investigate the impact that bringing teachers and writers together has on the writing development of the teachers’ students. The project, the first international study to rigorously evaluate the impact of teachers’ development as writers on students as writers, will be carried out in partnership with University of Exeter and the Open University.

Teachers as Writers will work with 16 teachers of students aged 8—14 years old living in areas of socio-economic disadvantage in rural and coastal areas of south-west England, who are often found to be significantly under-achieving at school. The teachers will come 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.

Arvon will work with partners including the Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) Arts Council England’s Bridge organisation in the south west, to reach schools where students may have least access to arts and culture and would benefit most from this opportunity. Existing research suggests that some teachers express low self-esteem as writers, do not write for creative purposes, and express concern about teaching writing. The project will evaluate whether by creating sustained opportunities for teachers to write and learn from writers, there are beneficial impacts on classroom practice and on learner outcomes in writing.

Professors Teresa Cremin (The Open University) and Debra Myhill (University of Exeter): “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.”

Ruth Borthwick, Chief Executive of Arvon:  “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.

Research Partners

Professor Debra Myhill is Director of The Centre for Research in Writing based at the University of Exeter. The Centre for Research in Writing has been established to promote writing research which crosses boundaries – disciplinary, methodological, philosophical and contextual.  This Centre provides a forum for the sharing, development and interrogation of inter-disciplinary perspectives on writing. http://socialsciences.exeter.ac.uk/education/research/centres/centreforresearchinwriting/

Teresa Cremin is a Professor of Education (Literacy) at The Open University. A Fellow of the English Association and the Academy of Social Sciences, Teresa is also a Director of the Cambridge Primary Review Trust, a Trustee of the UK Literacy Association,  a Board Member of Booktrust, and joint coordinator of BERA‘s Special Interest Group on Creativity. http://www.open.ac.uk/people/tmc242




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