Cultural Engagement in London Schools: Key messages from the rapid evidence assessment

Caroline Sharp, Rebekah Wilson, Pippa Lord, Hilary Grayson

12 June 2012

A New Direction’s blog about the project so far.

A New Direction is London's lead agency for connecting schools and young people with arts and culture. In partnership with the Mayor of London and Arts Council England, they have asked NFER to investigate cultural education in London schools, including the extent and nature of schools' engagement with cultural organisations. Our rapid evidence assessment explored the evidence for the extent, motivations and barriers relating to cultural engagement in London schools.

The review raises areas for further discussion including the need to: build a coherent vision of the value and benefits of cultural engagement, strengthen how cultural organisations communicate their offer to schools, and consider the kinds of brokerage and bridge roles that would support schools to engage with cultural organisations.

Key Findings

  • the extent of cultural engagement differs from school to school, and cultural organisations' work with London schools is patchy and fragmented
  • schools are motivated to engage with the cultural sector by a desire to develop young people’s positive attitudes towards the arts and culture, and to raise their aspirations; as well as to develop creative and cultural learning in the school, and raise the school's profile
  • to encourage schools' engagement, clear communication from cultural organisations is vital, setting out the quality and relevance of their offer and how it fits with schools' needs, and the benefits of engaging with their offer
  • senior leadership support is also crucial, as is having a key member of staff enthusiastic about leading this area of the school's work
  • barriers to schools' cultural engagement include organising and timetabling activities, costs, transport, and lack of clear information about the cultural opportunities available.

Sponsor Details

A New Direction