The Creative Writing Excellence Program
The Program aims to foster an understanding of universities as appealing and inclusive organisations providing opportunities for all students
The Creative Writing Excellence Program is a joint initiative between the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) and schools in the Sunshine Coast region. It is taken into regional schools as an extracurricular excellence program, and aims to raise aspirations and demystify university for students from Years 6–12.
The program entails an eight week course that teaches the basic elements of creative writing to school students who have an interest in the discipline. The teaching model is the short story, with each week’s workshop content focused on a specific element of narrative, giving the students a thorough understanding of how narrative is constructed and the techniques writers apply to create memorable fiction. The program culminates with the students writing a short story which is edited and published in an anthology.
The program has three core objectives revolving around introducing students to the university experience, with the aim of motivating their educational aspirations and increasing their participation in tertiary education. The program aims to ‘demystify’ the tertiary environment while fostering an understanding of universities as appealing and inclusive organisations providing opportunities for all students.
The program also fosters the development of long-term, mutually productive partnerships between USC and schools, particularly those with a high proportion of disadvantaged students, in the wider Sunshine Coast area. These partnerships are beneficial to the students, teachers and their communities, while also developing and enhancing USC’s reputation throughout the region.
Finally, the program seeks to encourage youth in exploring and developing their creativity, while enhancing their reading, comprehension and analytical skills. As an adjunct to this objective, the program aims to encourage student-writers to explore career opportunities in the creative industries, including in the areas of editing and publishing.
The program is financially supported by both the participating schools and HEPPP funding.
Four core aspirational measurement items, as well as an overall question item, sought to measure the impact of the program on students’ current education interest, awareness of tertiary education, likelihood of tertiary education, and career linkage awareness.
In 2012, after the Creative Writing Excellence Program:
65%were in general agreement that they became even more interested in their school work
88% were in general agreement that their overall awareness of the possibility for further study after high school increased
88% were in general agreement that they were more likely to actively pursue further study after high school
82% were in general agreement that they increased their understanding that further study after high school will help them get the kind of job they want, and
82% were in general agreement that overall, the Creative Writing Excellence Program increased their desire for further study.
USC’s Widening Participation programs, such as the Creative Writing Excellence Program, are supported through both University and Commonwealth HEPPP funding and are a long-term commitment with the aim of continuing to build an aspiration for higher education, particularly among those who might not otherwise have the opportunity or awareness.
This case study is one of a series of 39 presented in our case study publication, Access and Participation in Higher Education: Outreach – Access – Support.