Cultural organisations need to tailor their offer to help schools achieve their individual goals in a cost-effective way, according to a new report commissioned by A New Direction (AND), one of the national network of ‘Bridge’ organisations funded by Arts Council England to champion cultural education. The report, ‘London Schools Research: Cultural Engagement’ is based on an investigation by the National Federation for Educational Research into the extent and nature of London schools’ engagement with cultural organisations. The study found that London schools are reasonably committed to and active in cultural engagement but a substantial minority do not mention cultural education in their school development plans or have a member of the governing body with responsibilities for cultural education. Schools also report that their cultural engagement tends to arise from their own pro-activity, seeking out opportunities rather than responding to initiatives by the cultural sector. They want curriculum-related activities that are high-quality in terms of planning, communication and delivery; make use of local cultural provision; incorporate teacher development into activities; involve inter-school collaborations; and leverage funding from other sources. Among its recommendations the NFER proposes that AND should “be mindful of schools’ budgets for arts and cultural learning” and help them to leverage funding and facilities through local collaborations. For London’s cultural sector more generally, the report calls for arts organisations to communicate more effectively with schools, and to be clear and specific about how they can contribute to schools’ aims. It also says that arts organisations need to be willing to travel to and host activities in facilities local to schools, to help them overcome some of the barriers they face with respect to travel costs and logistics.

Report: London Shools Research: Cultural Engagement