New trials to study effects of cultural activities in primary schools

Thousands of primary school pupils are to take part in trials designed to see if activities such as music and drama can help boost results in the classroom.

The five trials are based around "cultural learning" and will involve assessing the impact each activity has on academic achievement as well as skills such as creativity and self-confidence.

The first project, involving 1,800 nine and 10-year-olds, is based on teachers and pupils working with author-illustrators to learn how to use picturebooks to improve reading and writing skills, while the second will look at whether developing teachers' writing skills can help improve pupils' confidence and motivation in the subject.

A third scheme will see 500 pupils take part in weekly drama sessions in which they take turns as authors, performers and the audience. It is aimed at five to seven-year-olds who struggle with communicating.

Pupils will get to set up their own newsroom for the fourth trial, which will see journalists working with youngsters to help them write and publish articles and put together radio and TV packages. Around 3,000 nine and 10-year-olds will take part.

The final project, involving 1,800 five and six-year-olds, will see pupils learn the basics of music through daily singing and musical games.

The overall trial programme is being run and funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Royal Society of Arts (RSA).

All of the projects are looking for schools to take part.

EEF chief executive Sir Kevan Collins 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.

"Not only will today's new trials provide cultural learning opportunities to thousands of primary pupils who might not otherwise have the opportunity, but they will give us much needed evidence on the impact of different approaches."

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