Artforms & Evidence

Over the course of the programme, pupils explored five different artforms: dance, music, drama, visual arts and film. Over 1,000 writing samples were collected and compared with baseline examples of writing from each tracked child.

Through this assessment, an independent literacy consultant was able to identify improvements in the quality and quantity of pupil’s writing (see Research Findings). They were also able to make observations of the notable characteristics of writing following each artform intervention.

Here we present a small sample of the evidence gathered.

The samples selected are taken from children from a variety of backgrounds, abilities and ethnicities who attend a range of schools. Some of the illustrative examples are work by pupils with either SEN/D or who are in receipt of pupil premium.


Music was clearly integral to a number of dance activities, which often explored ideas relating to movement and exploring other worlds. This was evident in work by one class which focused on prepositions to reinforce movement. Dance and movement was also used to simulate movement and growth. Dance also provided a means of exploring new environments and to explore abstract ideas and concepts.

Lead Practitioner: Lucy Blazheva

Year 5 | Boy

In this example, students were inspired through dance to produce a  poem – ‘The Marathon Dance’. Working through dance enabled students to consider different aspects of the race, and the importance of not giving up. This theme of perseverance linked into a wider, whole-school value.

Key Characteristics: Movement, Exploring new environments

I can hear all the people supporting me
Feet stomping and pounding
Friends and family holding up signs that say my name
bushes and trees go past in a blue
Lour cheers coming from every direction.
Many people inspiring me to keep going

Suddenly, I’m getting more and more tired
I stumble,
My feet are as heavy as an anvil
Legs like lead
Yet the crowd’s cheers lift me up.
And give me a new surge of energy.



Year 4 | Boy

In this cross-curricular example, dance was used to allow pupils to imagine the confrontation between the Romans and the Celts at the Battle of Watling Street. Pupils were then tasked with producing a piece of news reporting.

Key Characteristics: Exploring other worlds

Yesterday the Celts and Romans battled at Watling and left the Celts in shame. 

Romans told boudica to pay taxes for lands and money She was not happy about the Romans taking her land.

1 month later after the attack the celts got a big army.

The celts attached Londinium and St Albans so after they burnt down those places down then the Rotton Romans attacked places.

Then they charged then they were marching then places broke they were were unstopible then the Celts destroyed more towns. 


Music provides a means of children exploring situations outside their own experience, and encourages them to empathise and develop an emotional response

The use of music allows children to respond emotionally to situations outside their experience. They are able to develop their imagination in relation to concepts such as setting and atmosphere.

Lead Practitioner: Beth Higham-Edwards

Year 6 | Boy

In this cross-curricular example, Prokofiev’s ‘Dance of the Knights’ was played to encourage students to think about conflict. Pupils were then asked to produce diary entries of a soldier in the First World War, linked in with ‘War Horse’

Key Characteristics: Responding emotionally to situations outside their experience, setting and atmosphere

Dear Diary, named Jon

Tuesday Day 1 1915

I found a body where the German was, the planks were creeking as the medic dragged the bodies over it, as the war keeps going we lose some everyday. The medic wondering if he has to go out there again. 

Dear Diary Thursday Day 3 1915 

Tonight we are expecting a big attack. I am writing this before we go a kip, every morning at home my wife brings me chocolate, but now I am in this God-forsaken place – all we eat is slop. 

Dear Diary, Sunday Day 5 1915

I was once a farmer, but now I am a soldier and all we hear is “boom boom boom click boom boom!!!” as my eyes turn black, the blood pors out. 


Reception | Girl

In this example, the task was to choose a character from ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, draw it and write the character name. The class read the story using musical instruments to make the sound effects. The children chose instruments that they felt were suitable and justified why.

Key Characteristics: Empathise and develop an emotional response

Dad is nighs


Drama activities enabled children to think about point of view, and support the development of characterisation and empathy. Drama activities clearly support storytelling, as well as different genres such as report writing and writing a persuasive argument.  

The experience of taking part in drama activities enables children to have more to write about, as they are able to draw on the thoughts and ideas experienced and discussed. As a result children were able to write more from the experience that participating in drama provided.

Hot seating, and Mantle of the Expert were popular choices amongst teachers. Conscience alley provided the stimulus for exploring character and motivation. Writing was characterised by an understanding of another person’s viewpoint and motivation, as well as their relationship with others. 

Drama provides a safe way of exploring more complex ideas, as this is in the guise of the character rather than the child themselves.

Lead Practitioners: Ross Bolwell-Williams and Sonia Hyams

Year 1 | Boy

In this example, the learning objective was to retell a story using the suffix -‘ing’. A mixture of drama techniques were used including  a story square, a conscience alley activity and teacher in role as the main character.

Key Characteristics: Point of View, Storytelling

The little yellow chicken rushing to ready for the party and then the frog said Hop it! The Big Brown beetle said stop buging me! The bee said Buzz of! The little yellow chicken was lonely he asked the Bee But the Bee Did not Listen he cooked and cooked and his friends came and look out of the window They all said is makeing a good pinner! They asked the Little Yellow chicken can we come yes said The chicken he called his Grandmother she said eat it up ure self The chicken Did not listen he get his friends in he said welcome to my party evryone! his friends said sory. The Chicken had a rest!  


Year 2 | Girl

In this example, teacher in role was used to encourage pupils to consider the perspective of the wolf in the fairy story ‘Little Red Riding Rood’. Pupils then wrote a narrative based on the wolf’s experience in the story.

Key Characteristics: Point of View, Storytelling

One ^sunny day I was strolling through the dark woods. Then I saw little Red Riding Hood. I saw a girl she looked strange because she was all in red. How dare that girl dropped a sweet wrapper on my home’s floor. A fuy minutes later I ran to Franny’s house and asked her for help. Granny got into the cupboard. Then I put on […]

Visual Arts

Using visual arts is an effective way of encouraging children to generate and organise ideas, and for some provides a means of creating a visual image of something they will later write about. This creative approach fosters critical thinking and helps children develop their voice, which was evident in the writing samples.  Children’s descriptions were enriched by studying images and pictures.

Visual Arts activities were equally effective in providing the impetus for non-chronological writing such as reports, letters and biographies. There was good evidence that children also drew on prior learning, and there were examples of cross-curricular learning

Lead Practitioner: Meera Chauda

Year 5 | Boy

In this example, story boxes proved an effective way of organising the sequence of events, and the relationships between characters, as noted in poems written based on Alfred Noyes’ ‘The Highwayman’. The process of creating the scenes enabled the child to focus on creating setting and establish the protagonists, noticeably drawing closely on language from the poem

Key Characteristics: Generating and organising ideas, drawing on prior learning, descriptions

A charasmatic, charming figure advanced a wheathered indoor. With a french cocked hat on his gead, the man galloped across the purple moor while a ghostly galleon illuminates. He wore a claret velvet coat, leather boots, that insulated him from the bitter bite of the fierce wind, and a bunch of lace at his chin. approaching an inn he wipped his black, lucious stallion to go faster. Arriving, he clattered his wipp against the casements.


Year 4 | Boy

In this example, a J.M.W. Turner painting was used as stimulus for children to write descriptive poems.

Key Characteristics: Descriptions, visual images

the Moon and the Waves

the night time
waves waves sparkled
in the betfull moonlight
but as the night filled and
the marvals sky with the marvillous

the Enechanting
moon looked down
on the Waves

the People
was whispering next
to the marvels fires and
the pelope smelling the
Enechanting fresh air


The use of film was valuable in relation to plotting and the establishing a sequence of eventsWriting samples showed high levels of engagement from children, and the use of film clearly had a powerful role in reinforcing the storyline. 

The use of film enables children to explore narrative viewpoints, and for older children develop the conscious use of the omniscient narrator. There are clear links to other art forms, such as drama and music, which was evident from the samples, such as the use of soundscape to create a specific setting

Lead Practitioner: Chris Whitney

Year 1 | Girl

In this example, pupils were encouraged to create the middle part of a story following a film intervention.

Key Characteristics: Sequence of events, omniscient narration

All of a sudden the candal went out and it went rily dark. The window was opon so it was ovyasly rily cold in the lighthous The smoke from the candall was going out the window. The window was so stiff that evan the strongist person in the world could not evan move it an inch.


Year 5 | Girl

In this example, students constructed a story, by writing sentences linked to still images from a film. The still images were then ordered.

Key Characteristics: Sequence of events

she gets a drinck and pors the rest in a holl to a wash

she dosint have anof so she cant get a wash she is angry