Research Findings

Over the course of a three-year research programme, independent experts evaluated the impact of arts and cultural education on children’s creative writing.

Evidence was gathered through: 

  • Detailed assessment of over 1,000 writing samples
  • Teacher feedback, including start and end-point surveys for participating teachers
  • Pupil voice observation
The findings below are a summary of the key findings of the programme. Full research reports for the whole programme and for each of the years of the programme can be found at the foot of the page.

Children write at greater length and with improved quality

‘[It] makes you want to write more – makes you feel as if it can go on for ever’ (Child)

Working with different art forms encouraged children to write at greater length, with attention to the structure and organization of ideas.

Analysis of over 1,000 writing samples shows that the qualities and competence of children’s creative writing improved in a number of areas:

  • Children showed increased use of structural devices like varying length and structure of sentences
  • Children improved their technical accuracy, including spelling and accurate use of tenses
  • Children more frequently used literary devices like expanded noun phrases, similes and metaphor
  • Children show greater engagement with and enthusiasm for writing, particularly when maintaining a style or genre

Children collaborate, reflect and exchange feedback more

‘I like to talk through my ideas before I start. My partner helps me plan’ (Child)

Teacher feedback suggests that frequent use of arts based participatory activities provided children with the opportunities to work collaboratively with peers, encouraging them to take active part in their own learning.

The ongoing nature of classroom-based arts projects allowed children to share their ‘working ideas’ with each other and answer any questions to clarify and improve their writing. Class feedback helped to develop a culture of peer assessment and support.

Learning is inclusive and has benefits for children of differing abilities and backgrounds

‘All children can access the learning – lower ability children feel much more confident’ (Teacher)

Children who were not confident writers or speakers got the opportunity to express their ideas and feelings through different art forms, which contributed to high levels of personal achievement.

According to the writing samples, both boys and girls responded well to the approach. Pupils with SEND showed greater gains than the group average in the use of technical accuracy in their writing. In the third year of the programme, pupils in receipt of Pupil Premium showed greater gains than the group average through all art forms.

Teachers are inspired to be more creative in the classroom

‘My confidence levels have increased and I now feel able to use these creative strategies in my teaching to allow children to enjoy writing and deepen their understanding’ (Teacher)

The teachers in all three years of the programme were enthusiastic about gaining and using new ideas, enjoying adapting the tools and techniques taught by the creative practitioner and incorporating them into lesson preparation.

The teachers were open to the creative approaches and prepared to step out from their ‘comfort zone’ in changing their methods of teaching literacy. Teachers took risks in experimenting with new techniques, such as ‘teacher in role’, from drama and found the children’s responses rewarding.

Teachers became excited to plan lessons incorporating different art forms, knowing that children would be engaged and enthusiastic.

Teachers improve their confidence in using the creative arts to teach literacy

‘All children can access the learning – lower ability children feel much more confident’ (Teacher)

From questionnaire responses, taken at the beginning and end of each year of the programme, all participating teachers indicated that their confidence to use creative activities had grown. In their research narratives, teachers express pride in using their new abilities.

Through the programme, teachers have gained skills in creative arts techniques; in developing new ideas and approaches to teaching; and in reflection and action research. In addition, they have developed confidence to share their experiences with other colleagues in their schools, both formally and informally.

Download the full report from Anglia Ruskin University:

Download end of year evaluation reports for each of the years of the programme below: 

Full reportClick here

Summary report: Click here

Full reportClick here

Summary report: Click here

Full reportClick here

Summary report: Click here