The RSA believes in both the intrinsic value of arts and cultural engagement in education and in its potential to reduce barriers to children’s learning and engagement. In an environment of high-stakes accountability and financial constraint, we are seeing a decline in the opportunities available, especially for the most disadvantaged children. This programme is developing strong evidence for how cultural learning impacts on a range of educational outcomes to help secure its future in England’s schools.
The first stage of this project is a set of large-scale, randomised control trials (RCTs) to evaluate the impact of cultural learning approaches. Led jointly by the RSA and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), they will provide robust evidence of how cultural learning improves the attainment, non-cognitive development and creativity of disadvantaged children.
The evidence gathered through the trials will be complemented with qualitative evidence to help schools and cultural organisations understand not only what can work, but how to ensure that it does work in practice.
Strengthening practice and opening up opportunities for disadvantaged children in this field are dependent not only on stronger evidence, but on mobilising existing enthusiasts for cultural learning and to reaching out to sceptics. Across the two years of this project, we will engage with the cultural learning sector, and work with the RSA Fellowship to develop a widespread ethos of evidence-informed practice and enable a stronger case to be made to keep cultural learning in our schools.
Defining ‘cultural learning’
In line with a definition produced by the Cultural Learning Alliance, we define cultural learning as an active process of learning about culture and through culture. It references a wide range of artistic disciplines as well as material artefacts, and how they relate to understanding of oneself and social conventions that shape the world around us.
Download the Learning About Culture Prospectus.