What do pupils get out of studying the arts at secondary school? This interim report, the first from a longitudinal research project commissioned by the RSA, addresses that question by drawing on detailed evidence collected through interviews with senior management, teachers and pupils in five case-study secondary schools with a reputation for good arts practice. These interviews offer testimony to a wide-ranging array of direct effects of quality provision in the arts, with some interesting differences in the effects attributed to different artforms, and by teachers and pupils in different schools.
The report also investigates the highly publicised claims regarding transfer effects of the arts - in particular, that studying arts-based courses has a beneficial impact on a student's general academic performance at GCSE. It does that by using 'value-added' data on large groups of school-leavers collected through the NFER's QUASE service. Initial analyses of such quantitative data suggest that caution is warranted regarding claims about some of the possible indirect or transfer effects.
In a climate where claims about the effects of arts are being raised, this report should be of particular interest to arts teachers and senior school managers, LEA advisers and teacher trainers, as well as anyone interested in issues surrounding arts education in schools.
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