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New cultural learning trials to be launched in English schools

18/10/2017 Joanna

A total of 400 schools across England are to take part in a series of studies to determine the potential benefits of cultural learning opportunities for primary school students.

To be launched by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), the Learning About Culture programme consists of five trials that aim to find out if different cultural learning approaches can help boost primary pupils' achievement levels.

Whole-class music, drama and illustration sessions will all be evaluated in terms of their impact on academic attainment, as well as any benefits they have in bolstering skills and behaviours such as resilience, self-confidence and creativity.

The Power of Pictures study, for example, will use picture books to boost reading and writing skills, while the Craft of Writing study will aim to find out if developing teachers' skills as writers can help improve year 5 pupils' writing confidence and motivation.

Another trial, Speech Bubbles, will see how weekly drama sessions can be helpful for  children who lack confidence in communicating, with the Young Journalist Academy study giving pupils the opportunity to write and publish newspaper articles and media content in partnership with journalists.

Finally, the First Thing Music study will teach the basics of music through daily singing and musical games, in order to improve literacy and social and emotional skills.

In a separate strand of the project, the RSA will also examine how arts-rich schools get the most out of this kind of activity and provide training to encourage more effective use of evidence when developing cultural learning projects.

Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the EEF, said: "All children, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, deserve a well-rounded, culturally rich, education. But with schools increasingly accountable for the impact of all of their spending decisions on pupil attainment, there is an urgent need for more and better evidence on the relative benefits of different approaches and strategies."

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