Today sees the start of a new partnership programme between the RSA and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) that will fund and evaluate a series of cultural learning projects taking place in English schools. Together, and with the support of Arts Council England, we’re committed to improving understanding of how cultural learning activity improves educational outcomes, in particular for disadvantaged children.
Starting in January 2018, we'll run a series of trials to find out which cultural learning approaches are most likely to impact on academic attainment, as well as skills and behaviours like resilience, self-confidence and creativity. From today, cultural learning organisations can submit applications for their projects to be evaluated as part of the study.
The trials will be particularly focused on areas in England where deprivation is high and arts participation is low. They will run alongside other work by the RSA and the Arts Council to grow the evidence base around the impact of arts activities and improve the use of evidence-informed practice in cultural learning.
Cultural learning activities involve learning about culture and through culture. Usually involving collaboration between schools and arts and cultural organisations, they cover a wide range of artistic practice and offer opportunities to visit venues, see performances and exhibitions as well as learn through practical activity.
Today’s announcement follows a review by the EEF that found there was limited high-quality research into the impact different arts approaches have on pupil outcomes. With schools increasingly accountable for the impact of all of their spending decisions on pupil attainment, there is an urgent need for more and better evidence on the relative benefits of different approaches and strategies.
Application for the funding is open to arts and cultural organisations, schools, universities and other non-profit organisations.
The initial call for projects closes on the 15th February.
Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA, said:
“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. The current decline in provision of cultural learning and arts education opportunities in schools concerns us deeply and we know that a stronger evidence base for their impact are crucial to sustaining their presence and to improving practice. We’re excited to work with EEF, whose reputation for rigorous and robust research underpins the credibility of this project.
Schools derive a wide range of benefits from engagement in cultural learning activities and these RCTs are part of a wider programme of research to develop a broader understanding of how schools can benefit most. We know that research and evidence are only ever part of the solution, however, and we’re pleased to be working with a broad coalition of practitioners, funders and DCMS to ensure that the evidence can strengthen practice across the sector. “
Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:
"All children, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, deserve a well-rounded and culturally rich education. "But for schools to be able to commit time and resources to arts activities, it's important that they have access to high-quality evidence of the relative benefits of different arts programmes and approaches, both on attainment and wider outcomes. This is particularly important at a time of curriculum changes and significant pressures on school budgets.
"We're delighted to be partnering with the RSA and others to help add to the evidence base in this important area. The results from this work will help to put schools, government and arts organisations in a much better position to decide between the relative merits of different cultural learning approaches."
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