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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Arts Education Literature Review

A research project of the School of Education.


There is currently some evidence that participation in creative activities can be beneficial (EEF Artsparticipation toolkit) to pupils’ learning and wider outcomes. In the last decade, a few promising studies have been published in the area of music instruction (Schellenberg, 2004; Costa-Giomi, 2004) and of participation in the arts more generally (Smithrim & Upitis, 2005; Catterall & Peppler, 2007). Recent studies have looked in particular at the educational outcomes gained by at-risk pupils through music (e.g. Kraus et al., 2014) and arts enrichment programmes (e.g. Brown, Benedett & Armistead, 2010). In her most recent research which is being presented to the American Psychological Association (see, Kraus (2014) found that giving children regular group music lessons for five or more hours a week prevented an expected decline in reading skills for the poorer children. A longitudinal study reported that arts involvement was positively correlated with young people’s academic achievement (Catterall and Dumais 2012), but could not establish that participation was the cause of achievement. On the other hand, there are studies that suggest that arts programmes had little impact on academic performance at GCSE (Harland et al. 2000). A meta-analysis of studies on creative dramatics suggested that Arts education tended to be more effective for younger children than secondary school children (Conrad 1992). Another review on the impact of performing arts on secondary school pupils found very little research in this area that actually evaluated outcomes (Daykin et al. 2008). The evidence is therefore, unclear when we look at individual pieces of work in isolation. A synthesis of all the available evidence will help to provide a clearer picture of the situation.


The project is funded by the following grant.

  • Arts Education Literature Review (£11498.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)


The aims of this review are to:

  •  map the current policy and practice in arts education in the UK specifically, and more generally with reference to the arts education scene internationally;
  • identify intervention studies that have impact on cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes of school-aged children.


From the School of Education