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The Learning About Culture programme has two aims. 


Aim one: Build a stronger evidence base for cultural learning

Work strand 1: Randomised controlled trials 

8,500 children in 400 state schools with a significant proportion of pupil-premium eligible students will participate in trials of five cultural learning activities, starting in September 2018. These trials represent the biggest study of its kind ever undertaken and will provide much-needed insight into both what works and how it works.  

Work strand 2: Understanding the contextual factors that influence the effectiveness of cultural learning activities

The RSA will conduct follow-up research those participating schools that benefited the most, and the least, from the trials to develop an understanding of the contextual factors that influenced those outcomes. Together with the impact data from the trials, this information will allow the RSA to make some meaningful, practical recommendations that will help improve policy and practice across the cultural learning sector.

Parallel to the trials, the RSA will conduct deep-dive research in schools which attribute a range of successful learner outcomes to the use of cultural learning activity.


aim two: Improve the use of evidence in cultural learning

The RSA will collaborate with schools, arts and cultural organisations and funders to build on existing good practice and improve practitioner effectiveness in collecting, understanding and using evidence, we want practitioners and schools to be using evidence not to ‘prove’ but to ‘improve’.

Work strand 3: Research and engagement on use of evidence in cultural learning

  • Creating a research and evidence competency framework for cultural learning practitioners and schools.  This tool will focus on building practitioner agency and autonomy: building personal capacities to learn from and respond to evidence derived from one’s own practice and from elsewhere.

  • Collaboration with Arts Council England, corporate and charitable funders to explore how these strategic agencies can support improved use of evidence

  • Developing, with the Arts Council Bridge Organisations, regional networks of practitioners who will develop skills in the use of evidence and become evidence champions in their region.  and school governors with a dedicated focus on evidence-informed practice in cultural learning

  • Publishing accessible summaries of the evidence from the trials to ensure that research findings can inform practice. These reports will seek to disaggregate elements of different successful approaches that are transferable to a wider range of practice.

  • Looking at how other sectors have improved their use of evidence and produced improved outcomes for beneficiaries, in order to make recommendations to the cultural learning sector.  This will include investigating possibilities for stronger networks for professional association across different art forms.