Education Endowment Foundation:400 schools wanted to take part in cultural learning trials

400 schools wanted to take part in cultural learning trials

New trials will find out of music lessons. drama sessions, or journalism can help boost primary pupils’ achievement and key skills
Press Release •5 minutes •

9,000 pupils in 400 schools across England will take part in five new trials to find out if different cultural learning approaches can help boost primary pupils’ achievement, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) announced today

The Learning About Culture programme includes five different projects – including whole-class music, drama sessions and illustration – to be evaluated through large randomised controlled trials that will test their impact on academic attainment, as well as on skills and behaviours like resilience, self-confidence and creativity. In a separate strand of the project, the RSA will also research how arts-rich schools get the most out of this kind of activity and provide training to encourage more effective use of evidence in the design of cultural learning projects

The delivery and evaluation of the programme is being funded through a partnership between the RSA and the EEF, with support from Arts Council England, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Foyle Foundation and Bank of America Merrill Lynch

1,800 nine and 10 year olds (Year 5) will take part in a trial of The Power of Pictures, delivered by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education. Teachers and their pupils will work with author-illustrators to learn how to use picturebooks to boost reading and writing skills. Over three days of training, they will develop specific techniques to use illustration to support children’s reading comprehension and creative writing

A trial of a project developed jointly by Arvon, the University of Exeter and the Open University programme will find out if developing teachers’ skills as writers can help improve Year 5 (eight and nine year olds) pupils’ writing confidence and their motivation to write. Over two weekend courses, teachers taking part in The Craft of Writing will work with professional writers and apply the techniques they learn to their classrooms

500 pupils in 25 primary schools across England will take part in a trial of the London Bubble Theatre Company’s Speech Bubbles programme. Over three terms, teaching assistants will work with theatre practitioners to deliver weekly drama sessions where the pupils will take turns as authors, performers and the audience. The programme is aimed at five-to-seven year olds who lack confidence in communicating, have difficulty communicating or have poor attention and listening skills. Parents will be invited to take part too.

Primary school pupils will get to set up their own newsroom in an evaluation of Paradigm Arts’ Young Journalist Academy. Journalists will work alongside the pupils to help them write and publish newspaper articles, as well as to put together radio and TV packages. 3,000 Year 5 pupils (nine and 10 year olds) will take part in the trial to find out if this approach can boost literacy skills, as well as the children’s confidence, communications skills, and collaborative working.

Finally, Lindsay Ibbotson and Tees Valley Music Service will deliver First Thing Music,a structured music education programme based on the Kodály approach with 1,800 five-to-six year olds in 60 schools. In this trial, students will learn the basics of music through daily singing and musical games, their teachers being trained by members of the British Kodály Academy. It is hoped the whole-class approach will help develop pupils’ literacy, as well as their social and emotional skills.

All five projects will be evaluated by a team of independent evaluators led by the University of London – Institute of Education and the Behavioural Insights Team. The evaluations will look at the impact on children’s learning and development, as well as how different approaches to delivery maximise the benefit to children and schools. Projects were chosen based on existing evidence to suggest that they might be likely to demonstrate an impact.

Each of the organisations delivering projects is seeking schools to take part in the trials in different parts of England, particularly those in areas where deprivation is high and arts participation is low

Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:

Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA, said:

Notes to editors

1.The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is a grant-making charity set up in 2011 by the Sutton Trust as lead foundation in partnership with Impetus Trust (now part of Impetus – The Private Equity Foundation), with a £125m founding grant from the Department for Education. The EEF is dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. Since its launch the EEF has awarded £87 million to test the impact of 142 projects reaching more than 960,000 children and young people in over 9,200 schools, nurseries and colleges across England. The EEF and Sutton Trust are, together, the government-designated What Works Centre for Education.

2.The RSA aims to enrich society through ideas and action. We believe that all human beings have creative capacities that can be mobilised to deliver a 21st century enlightenment. We work to bring about the conditions for this change, not just amongst our diverse Fellowship, but also in institutions and communities. Our work ranges from the future of our cities and communities, to education, moving towards a more creative economy and the redesign of public services.

3.Further information about the Learning About Culture programme and a programme prospectus is available to download here.

4.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.

5.Schools interested in taking part in any of today’s new trials should contact the delivery organisations directly

6. The five grants have been awarded to: