Cultural Capital

NotDeadFish are proud to announce the publication of our first book, published in partnership with A New Direction’s Cultural Leaders programme.

Cultural Capital tells the story of eleven arts research projects, run by teachers from all over London to begin or expand projects that help their students engage with cultural education.

The book comes at a time when rigorous but accessible research is more and more important for schools. Teachers and senior managers who can show the importance and impact of their arts and cultural projects have a better chance of learning from their own practice, and of attracting funding.

These programs bring much needed data on the impact of cultural education, but beyond this each case study demonstrates the profound effect the projects have on the children and families involved.

Each Cultural Leader’s journey was unique but the participants had similar values and research foci, and their stories complement each other and stand as a testament to the diversity possible in cultural education.

Throughout the Cultural Leader project, four topics naturally emerged:

1.       Increasing participation in the arts

Our first group centres around increased participation. The three projects in this section focused on a change in culture as well as practice: How can we make the arts more attractive to our students, and so achieve higher participation? And what do arts projects give to students who engage with them? Creativity, and a real desire to understand the benefits of art practice, are at the heart of these projects.

2.       Cross-curricular collaboration

Our second set focuses on working across different departments within one school. Planning projects collaboratively brings its own challenges and opportunities, both for staff and students. How do we frame targets together and pursue their completion as a team, but in separate lessons? Can we work across the arts - and beyond.

3.       Action research as professional development

The third set of projects had impact at its core. Three Cultural Leaders set out to focus not just on students, but on research as a useful tool to measure progress, engagement and attainment. All three teachers used different methods and focused on a range of groups, from primary school children to SEN students and hard-to-reach pupils, yet all of them had the same goal in mind: to use action research to make an impact on their practice and develop as professionals.

4.       Arts Award and its impact

The fourth section of the book is concerned with Arts Award and its impact on students. Kerri, Yolanda and Rhiannon all took proactive and creative steps to increase the arts provision in their schools and to reward children for the artistic projects that they had engaged in. But are there other ways in which we can measure the success of Arts Award, apart from the award itself? What skills does the Arts Award foster and is it a qualification for all ages?

Cultural Capital paints a multi-faceted and, I think, hopeful picture of London’s educational landscape. The teachers we worked with are passionate about their practice, thoughtful in their analysis and enthusiastic to be advocates for the benefits of the arts. We hope that Cultural Capital will do its part in showing that their examples can and should be followed: Arts and cultural education can make a real difference in the classroom and its impact is measurable and useful.

Franzi Florack discusses “Cultural Capital: teacher led research on the impact of arts and cultural education”, a joint publication between NotDeadFish and A.N.D, now available for purchase here:

A New Direction are NotDeadFish’s clients – for more information on their Cultural Leaders project, look here: