Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico

The impact of arts education on young people

Read the final report

Burberry Inspire was an arts education programme for Key Stage 3 students that ran from 2018–2022, which aimed to improve children’s aspiration, confidence, wellbeing and educational outcomes. The programme was co-devised by Burberry, the Ideas Foundation and four cultural partners based in West Yorkshire – The Hepworth Wakefield, Leeds Playhouse, Leeds Young Film and Northern Ballet – who partnered with nine local schools to provide an 'artist in residence' programme.

Students were offered a suite of cultural experiences, from one-off encounters such as trips to galleries, theatres and performances or careers talks, to deeper, repeated encounters with artists-in-residence, who were embedded in schools for a full academic year. This included a series of take-overs of art, drama and music lessons, engaging students in off-timetable projects or afterschool clubs led by professional artists and creatives, among other activities.

The Policy Institute at King’s College London was commissioned to evaluate the impact of Burberry Inspire on students. Our evaluation focused specifically on the extent to which the activities improved students’ non-cognitive skills (also referred to as “soft skills”) and the mechanisms that were most important for achieving this. In particular, we were looking to detect changes in students’ self-esteem, aspirations and “locus of control” (ie if they felt in control of their own destiny).

Using a quasi-experimental ‘difference in differences’ approach, we compared the effect of the programme in schools that took part (‘treatment schools’), with comparable local schools that did not (‘control schools’). Alongside this, both end-of-year and longitudinal interviews with students and those delivering the programme helped us to understand what it was about the activities that contributed to the types of outcomes observed. In particular, these conversations helped uncover what aspects of the activities resonated with students, what students saw as the main outcomes and the extent to which taking part in the programme made them think differently about the future.

The Policy Institute's evaluation of the Burberry Inspire programme also offers reflections for others who are looking to adopt similar models for arts education, and help to understand how similar programmes coordinated by different funders and organisations might help to make a difference to young people's lives.

The findings of the evaluation were also discussed in dialogue with a broader discussion around creative skills in education in November 2022 at a panel event featuring Jo Johnson (Chair, Access Creative and Former Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation), Lizzie Crump (Visiting Engagement Fellow, Culture, King’s College London), Sarah Gregory (Head of Diversity and inclusion, Creative UK), and Wesley Bush (Headteacher, Castleford Academy). To hear the discussion, see the recording on YouTube below.