Finding 3: Skills and behaviour

Learning through arts and culture develops skills and behaviour that lead children to do better in school

We know studying arts subjects increases transferable skills – things that equip pupils to learn. A systematic review of international evidence found that participating in structured arts activities led to increases in transferable skills (including confidence and communication) of between 10–17% (CASE, 2010: p.29).

The Right to Read programme reported increases in social skills and self-esteem (Griffiths et al, 2007) and smaller studies with control groups have shown increases in self- esteem and self-efficacy (the sense that they have confidence in their ability to overcome problems and achieve goals) for young people taking part in drama (Fleming et al, 2004), and visual arts (Catterall and Peppler, 2007).

Research shows specific art forms can have specific benefits. Singing can help with language learning (Ludke et al, 2014). Music increases IQ and Dance and Drama social skills (Schellenberg, 2004). Hong Kong research shows particular improvements in creativity and communication through studying visual arts (Hui, He and Sam Ye, 2015). German research has shown a causal relationship between music and educational attainment (Yang, 2015). 


Catterall, James S. and Peppler, Kylie A. ‘Learning in the visual arts and the worldviews of young children’ Cambridge Journal of Education 2007, 37(4) 

Culture and Sport Evidence Programme (CASE). Understanding the impact of engagement in culture and sport (London: DCMS, 2010) 

Fleming, Mike, Merrell, Christine and Tymms, Peter. ‘The impact of drama on pupils’ language, mathematics, and attitude in two primary schools, Research in Drama Education’ The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance 2004, 9(2) pp.177–197 

Griffiths, Viv, Blishen, Susan and Vincent, John. Right to Read 2001 – 2005: summary of the current outcomes (London: Paul Hamlyn Foundation, 2007) 

Hui, Anna N. N., He, Mavis W. J. and Ye, Shengquan Sam. ‘Arts education and creativity enhancement in young children in Hong Kong’ Educational Psychology 2015, 35(3) 

Ludke, K. M., Ferreira, F. and Overy, K., 2014. ‘Singing can facilitate foreign language learning.’ Memory & Cognition, 42(1), pp. 41–52. 

Schellenberg, E. G.. ‘Music lessons enhance IQ’ Psychological Science 2004, 15(8) pp.511–514 

Yang, Philip. ‘The impact of music on educational attainment’ Journal of Cultural Economics 2015, 39(4) pp.369396