Since the publication of the EEF’s report on the evidence base for the arts within education (focused on attainment and non-cognitive outcomes), we’ve been thinking about what is next for research in this field. There has recently been a lot of scrutiny of the evidence base for the arts in an education context - with a fairly critical study from the OECD, a number of EEF-funded studies which have produced little evidence of positive impact, and the EEF report itself which finds few studies meeting their standards which show a positive impact.

Evidence, data, and impact are all central to current debates about education, whether you believe that it is appropriate to have highly rigorous quantitative studies used to evaluate education practice or not. So what does all this mean for the arts sector? Do we need our own ‘What works’ centre (like the EEF) that could audit and evaluate good practice in our field? Do we need to re-think how we structure studies going back to the first principles of particular interventions? Or do we need to revive the arguments that the arts are not within education because they increase exam results or help manage behaviour, but because they are a human right and part of our emotional and spiritual development as people?

I have written a short paper unpacking some of these ideas and AND will be engaging with partners, funders and other to help develop our thinking in this area. We would love to know what you think and help us navigate where next for research into arts in education - please feel free to leave your comments and thoughts below.