Since inception, the Story Factory has been committed to evaluating the benefits of our programs for young people.
In 2017, we engaged NSF Consulting to run independent evaluations of the impact of two of our programs on participating young people.
The results are in: our programs make a tangible difference!
Canterbury Boys High School
During 2017 and 2018, we moved in and took over a dedicated classroom space at Canterbury Boys High School to spend some quality time with the students in all manner of creative writing endeavours.
Every Monday for a year, our storyteller-in-chief runs between two and four writing programs for boys in years 7 to 12. All programs are developed and run in close consultation with the principal and teachers at the school.
From scriptwriting and monologues to slam poetry and fictional memoirs, we are incredibly proud to be partnering with Canterbury Boys for this program. ABC News also did a fabulous feature piece on the exciting literacy initiatives at Canterbury Boys' High School, with the school recently being awarded a 2018 Secretary's Award for Excellence for Outstanding School Initiative in recognition of their collaboration with Story Factory on this program.
The evaluation found that during the first year of the program:
The students overwhelmingly enjoyed the workshops, rating them on 7.9 out of 10, with 21% rating them 10 out of 10.
There were very significant improvements in confidence and enjoyment of writing. The percentage of students who said they were ’very confident’ about their writing increased from 4% before the program to to 38% after it; the percentage of students who said they ‘really enjoy’ writing increased from 11% to 36%.
The top 3 words used to describe the workshops were ‘helpful’ (62%), ‘creative’ (58%) and ‘imaginative’ (58%).
The Year 9 students in our Shakespeare Slam program seemed to get the most out of the workshops. They were the most likely class to say the workshop was ‘imaginative’ (67%), ‘fun' (67%), ‘awesome' (58%) and ‘inspiring’ (58%). They also rated the workshops slightly higher (8.3) and saw the largest upward shifts in writing confidence and enjoyment (8% to 58% and 17% to 67%, respectively).
There were significant improvements in the student's writing: common features included writing that was organised and fluent, writing with a varied vocabulary, compelling and engaging writing, writing going beyond the formulaic, experimentation with language conventions, and the use of a clear, personal style and voice.
2017-2019 Western Sydney Primary School Residencies
Over three years (2017-2019) we're taking up residence in eight primary schools across Western Sydney for a term at a time, bringing our special blend of creativity, writing and fun right into the heart of each school.
For each residency we run two creative writing workshops per day at each school as part of a term-long program in which students are supported to develop and extended piece of creative writing, culminating in publication.
To achieve deep and lasting impacts, we're working with the same schools throughout. Our partner schools are:
Ruse Public School | St Patrick's Guildford | Briar Rd Public School | Merrylands East Public School
Ambarvale Public School | Woodland Rd Public School | Curran Public School | Yagoona Public School
In our workshops our awesome students have written a whole range of wonderful creations, including a collaborative, fictional biographies of the oldest living person, and Australian Odysseys of epic proportions.
Kids love the program! On average they rated it 9.3 out of 10. The top 3 words used to describe the workshops were ‘awesome’ (82%), ‘creative' (81%) and ‘fun’ (78%).
There was a big impact on young people's confidence and enjoyment of writing. The percentage of students who said were ’very confident’ about their writing increased from 43% before the program to 63% after the program; those who ‘really enjoy’ writing increased from 55% to 74%.
Outcomes were particularly strong for Indigenous students. After our workshops, 79% of Indigenous students said they "really enjoyed" writing, up from 49% before the program.
Teachers said they had noticed improvements in academic performance as a result of the program. One teacher said that the one-on-one time the students received in the workshops improved their overall academic achievement in class, as it built up their confidence to perform. Another teacher reported ‘massive’ improvements in academic results from her participating students. She felt this was attributable to the value of the students' development of story characters, which engaged them in a way that built their confidence to try new things and to attempt challenging tasks in other subjects.
One of the greatest strengths of the workshops was to engage those who are not naturally predisposed to such a collaborative and creative environment––such as students who don’t consider themselves to be creative, don’t enjoy challenges or working in teams––and bring about a positive shift in their enjoyment of writing.
This program is one of four Foundation Programs that are laying the groundwork for Story Factory's expansion across Western Sydney. It has been made possible thanks to the Crown Resorts Foundation & the Packer Family Foundation as part of their Western Sydney Arts Initiative.
2016 Australian of the Year
In January 2016, executive director and co-founder Cath Keenan was honoured to be named 2016 Australian of the Year Local Hero. The award is fitting recognition for Cath and everyone involved with the Story Factory who have worked so hard to make a real difference in the lives of marginalised Australian children and young people. We couldn't be prouder.