ImagineNation: The Case for Cultural Learning – published today

02 November 2011

Learning Through Arts and Culture Improves Young People's Life Chances

The Cultural Learning Alliance (CLA) has published key findings demonstrating the impact of cultural learning on the lives of children and young people.

Amongst the findings, based on a review of all available large-scale English language data including from the US, funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, are:

  • Learning through arts and culture improves attainment in all subjects
  • Participation in structured arts activities increases cognitive abilities
  • Students from low-income families who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to get a degree
  • The employability of students who study arts subjects is higher and they are more likely to stay in employment
  • Students who engage in the arts at school are twice as likely to volunteer and are 20% more likely to vote as young adults

The full research findings are published here, together with ImagineNation: The Case for Cultural Learning, a new report which draws on the research findings and which sets out how and why the arts and heritage have the power to transform young people’s lives. ImagineNation is available to download free.

“I would like to propose that we let the imagination take its place at the heart of learning, and that we create a climate in which it can flourish. We need discovery; making; doing; exploring; creating; critical thinking; seeing; hearing; experiencing. Children have to be introduced to the arts in every form.”

Michael Morpurgo

“The key issue for me, as Children’s Commissioner, is that learners’ entitlements are captured in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and we are bound by its Articles: 28 the right to education, whoever and wherever you are; 29 that such education should be about your personality, skills, talents and aptitudes in the round; 31 that you are entitled to leisure, culture and play activities. We are in effect by this international treaty, given permission and exhortation to work to ensure our children are rounded citizens, ready to take on what the world asks of them. Involvement in cultural learning, as Ofsted and others have said many times, is part of fulfilling their –and our – promise.”

Dr Maggie Atkinson,
The Children’s Commissioner for England

Signatories of the report are:

David Anderson OBE

, Director General, National Museums Wales, Dr Maggie Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner for England, Sir William Atkinson, Executive Headteacher, The Phoenix Canberra Schools Federation, Michael Boyd, Artistic Director, Royal Shakespeare Company, Christina Coker OBE, Chief Executive, Youth Music, Marcus Davey, Chief Executive, Roundhouse, Siobhan Davies CBE, founder Siobhan Davies Dance, Bernadette Duffy OBE, Head, Thomas Coram Centre for Children and Families, Dr John Dunford, Chair, Whole Education, Lord Hall of Birkenhead CBE, Chief Executive, Royal Opera House, Professor Stephen Heppell, Bournemouth University and Universidad Camilo José Cela, Madrid, Russell Hobby, General Secretary, National Association of Head Teachers, Nick Hornby, Chair, Ministry of Stories, Baroness Howe of Idlicote, President, National Governors’ Association, Nicholas Hytner, Director, National Theatre, Sarah Ichioka, Director, The Architecture Foundation, Carol Lake, Head of Philanthropy &Sponsorship, JP Morgan, Paul Latham, Chair, Creative and Cultural Skills, John Leighton, Director General, National Galleries of Scotland, Peter Lewis, Director Children’s Services, Haringey, Brian Lightman, General Secretary, Association of School and College Leaders, Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive, 4Children, Sandy Nairne CBE, Director, National Portrait Gallery, Alison Peacock, Headteacher, Wroxham School, Mark Prescott, Director, Belfast Festival, Susanne Rauprich, Chief Executive, National Council for Voluntary Youth Services, Dame Fiona Reynolds DBE, Director-General, National Trust, Anthony Sargent, Director General, The Sage Gateshead, Dr Anthony Seldon, Master, Wellington College, Sir Nicholas Serota, Director Tate, Kevin Spacey, Artistic Director, Old Vic, David S Stewart OBE DL, Headteacher, Oak Field School, Sir John Tusa, Chair, University of the Arts, Professor Mick Waters, Professor of Education, University of Wolverhampton


Jane Quinn or Tamsin Selby, Bolton & Quinn, 020 7221 5000 /