This summary of activity, outcomes and learning from our Gateshead Young Writers’ programme is drawn from an extensive, ethnographic evaluation conducted by Dr Anni Raw and commissioned by New Writing North.
An ethnographic approach to evaluation helps to counter the common problem of positive bias, which results from setting aims and objectives against which to measure success and impact. In our evaluation of the Gateshead Young Writers’ programme we sought to provide a balanced account of the activity we delivered. In the evaluation, multiple perspectives were used to help balance individual biases; and training in reflexivity (observing one’s own influence on the process) was delivered for contributors.
This final evaluation report draws on reflection notes produced by a range of contributors, including: one New Writing North producer, two NWN Project Managers, the NWN Programme and Impacts Director, the freelance writers and artists, and the external evaluator. These twelve contributors contributing 90 reflective narrative accounts of the project. Additional data was generated through short interviews with key staff members, and reflective discussions with young people from across the programme.
The final report presents findings and analysis of the Gateshead Young Writers’ Programme that offers evidenced insights on the value and learning this two and a half year project achieved for both the participants and the NWN team.
“The process and event have broadened their horizons more that you can imagine”
(Teacher, Kelvin Grove Primary School)
Wellbeing: WProgramme evaluation has increased New Writing North’s confidence in the valuable mental and emotional wellbeing outcomes of our young peoples’ programme. This is an extremely important part of the work we do. We will continue to use our social and relational approach to further our work in this area.
Inspirational writers: A real strength of our programme lies in our writers and artists’ ability to offer new and valuable perspectives to young people.
Developing writers as facilitators: In recognition of the importance of our writers’ skills to deliver this work, we will increase our professional support for the programme’s facilitating writers and artists. This could include access to a child and adolescent mental health professional as part of the programme structure, in order that they are equipped to support the wellbeing outcomes of our programmes.
Long-term partnerships: Our programmes work best when we collaborate with partners in the long-term. In our current and future work, we will seek to sustain (and increase) our impact, consolidate project achievements and become more embedded in the areas where we deliver our programmes by sustaining partnerships.
The importance of family: Cultural capital is the skills, education, norms, and behaviours acquired by members of a social group that give them economic advantages over others and underpin social mobility. Evaluation of our programmes shows that family defines the ‘cultural capital’ of young people. In current and future work we are building new programme strands that engage families, in order to have greater impact on the lives of the young people we work with.