Caroline Sharp, Lesley Kendall, Jo Morrison, Tilaye Yeshanew
01 July 2008
Creative Partnerships is the Government’s creative learning programme, designed to develop the skills of young people across England, raising their aspirations and achievements, and opening up more opportunities for their futures. Between Autumn 2002 and Summer 2004, NFER conducted a programme-level evaluation of Creative Partnerships, focusing on measuring changes in self-confidence, self-esteem and attitudes to learning amongst young people who took part in Creative Partnerships activity. Arts Council England was interested in examining the extent to which schools’ engagement with Creative Partnerships was reflected in improvements in young people’s attendance and behaviour at school. This study compared schools involved in Creative Partnerships with other similar schools to explore this issue, using data from 2002/3 to 2006/7 for absence rates and data from 2002/3 to 2005/6 for exclusions from school.
Because only school-level data were available, it is not possible to say whether these reductions in absence rates were associated with particular groups of young people (i.e. those young people who took part in Creative Partnerships activities). It is also not known why there were no such associations between the Creative Partnerships programme and absence rates in secondary schools, although it is possible that Creative Partnerships had an effect in primary schools because those taking part in Creative Partnerships represented a higher proportion of the total number of pupils attending primary schools whereas a smaller proportion of the total school population attended Creative Partnerships activities in secondary schools. The lack of a measurable effect of participation in Creative Partnerships on permanent exclusion rates in either primary or secondary schools may be due to the fact that exclusions are relatively rare, making it more difficult to show an impact on this measure.
- Participation in Creative Partnerships was associated with a reduction in total absence rates in primary schools and this reduction increased over a period of years as Creative Partnerships became more established in these schools. The difference was sufficiently large to be considered ‘educationally significant’ after three years.
- Total absence rates in schools that had been participating in Creative Partnerships for four years were almost a whole percentage point lower than in otherwise comparable schools with no history of involvement with Creative Partnerships. This difference amounts to a relative reduction of about a fifth in absence rates within Creative Partnerships schools over a period of four years.
- There were no differences between the two groups of schools in relation to attendance rates in secondary schools or in rates of permanent exclusions in primary or secondary schools.