Policy and Practice Round-up

28 April 2014

New LSE research: Quantifying the Social Impacts of Culture and Sport

On 17 April DCMS published a London School of Economics report Quantifying the Social Impacts of Culture and Sport analysing data they collected as part of the Understanding Society study.

The report included the finding that 16-18 year olds participating in arts are 14% more likely to plan to go on to further education.

This backs up data we already have from the US NELS:88 survey, a longditudinal survey that tracked the destinations of 25,000 children across America, born in 1988. The US data shows that children who engage in the arts at school are significantly more likely to go to university than their peers who do not. Read more about the NELS findings here.

The LSE data, although based on a single snapshot and a much smaller number of respondents, tells us the same thing.

The authors of the report have also looked at cost benefit analysis and assigned some sterling amounts to the benefits we receive from taking part in cultural and sports activities. Read more about this in the Telegraph article ‘Dancing makes people as happy as a £1,600 pay rise’.

There has also been some lively debate on the Group for Education in Museums JISCmail list about the report, including this very informative post by Dr Eric Jenson of Warwick University.

New Scientist: Drama helps children with autism communicate better

While we are highlighting new evidence for the value of arts and culture we thought we would mention the Imagining Autism partnership written up in the New Scientist, which has shown that Drama classes help children with autism improve their communication, social interaction and imagination skills – all key domains that autism affects.

The research involved 22 children aged between 7 and 12 and consisted of one 45-minute session every week for 10 weeks. Children were assessed at the start and end of the project and between five and 12 months later.

For the researchers from the University of Kent, the results are encouraging enough to warrant further study. They plan to collaborate with psychologists at the Centre for Embodied Cognition at Stony Brook University in New York later this year on a larger, more rigorous study.

Poorer children forced to drop arts subjects due to costs of studying

The costs of going to school, from young people’s perspectives, a report from the British Youth Council, Child Poverty Action Group, Kids Company and the National Union of Teachers published in April suggests that “Not all of the curriculum appears to be available to all students equally”.

Key findings are:

  • 27% of students on free school meals (FSM), 14 per cent of low-income students and 8% of better-off students chose not to study arts or music due to the associated costs.

(As highlighted in our GCSE report earlier this year creative subjects – art, design and technology, photography – require extra materials and therefore cost more to study).

  • when questioned students from lower income backgrounds reported that, where they had chosen to take an expensive subject, their grades had suffered as a result of not being able to afford to purchase the necessary materials.
  • 57% of low-income students and 28% of better-off students said that they had missed at least one school trip because of the price and this had had some impact on them. The impacts of missing school trips included the opportunity to socialise and make friends, and learn new skills.
  • 19% of young people on FSM; 12% of young people from low-income families; and 19% of young people from better-off households reported not participating in after school clubs and extra-curricular activities due to either the cost of the club itself or the cost of transport to the club.

The study is based on responses from 399 young people through both a survey and focus groups about the price of going to school and what this means for their education.

Chair of Arts Council England:

There's a strong relationship between arts and cultural engagement and educational attainment

In a thought-provoking piece in The Observer on the 27 April Peter Bazalgette, Chair of Arts Council England, wrote about the inherent value of culture, the social and educational benefits and the economic – in that order.

Bazalgette predicted that the value of arts and culture would play an increasing part in the local and national election debates. At the CLA we particularly hope all our members will be asking election candidates about their policies in regard to the arts, culture and education, and what they will do to support cultural learning, if elected.

Museum of the Year – Young Photographers Competition

The Museum of the Year finalists who are in line for the £100,000 prize were announced on the 24 April by the Art Fund.

As part of the festivities a photography competition will run for the duration of the prize, with museum visitors invited to submit their best photographs of the shortlisted museums for the chance to win a range of prizes.

There will be two categories – one for photographers aged 18+, one for children aged 17 and under – and free photography workshops will take place at the shortlisted museums and galleries.