The team was commissioned by A New Direction to conduct an exploratory literature review to investigate the nature and impact of arts and cultural education on looked after children. The report was used to gain a better understanding of incorporating arts based activities into looked after children’s lives, and has been shared with the Department for Education and Arts Council England to support funding for A New Direction.
The key findings that arose from the review were:
- Children’s participation in arts and cultural education has the potential to increase self-confidence, self-esteem and emotional resilience. Children who participated in community singing groups and multi-arts programmes reported feeling happy and more confident about their skills during the programme. Having the opportunity to share their work or preform to the public typically left children with feelings of pride and achievement.
- Arts and cultural education allowed children to express themselves through an alternative medium. Arts and cultural education offered children the opportunity to communicate their thoughts and feelings nonverbally to achieve self-expression and discover talent. This was especially useful with children who found it difficult to talk about their experiences.
- Children made new friends whilst attending arts and cultural educational groups in and outside of school. This was important for children whose friendships had been disrupted by moving schools or local authority placements.
- Meeting children with similar life experiences encouraged children to share their feelings and their ways of coping.
- When children feel valued and engaged with arts and cultural education this is a strong indicator that they are likely to experience positive benefits from participating.6. Barriers to children’s engagement with the arts include a lack of family and peer support.