Tracking Arts Learning and Engagement

September 2015 – April 2018

Investigating the direct impact of arts and cultural experiences on teachers of secondary education, and the indirect impact this has on their pupils

Teachers participating in a Schools and Teachers Summer School, 2017

Teachers participating in a Schools and Teachers Summer School, 2017

Photography © Tate 2017 Seraphina Neville

Tracking Arts Learning and Engagement (TALE) was a collaborative research project involving Tate, The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and the University of Nottingham. Over three-years (2015 – 2018) the research investigated four main questions:

  • What do teachers learn from deep engagement with cultural organisations?
  • How do teachers translate this learning into the classroom?
  • What do pupils gain from these learning experiences?
  • What do the two different models of teacher professional development at Tate and RSC offer and achieve?

The research focused on thirty secondary schools spread across England and included three special schools. During the three years of the project the researchers tracked students and 63 teachers and analysed 6,000 responses from young people aged 14 – 18.

The study brings to light the voices and opinions of young people and provides new insights into the positive difference that sustained engagement with arts and cultural engagement has on the lives of young people. However, the research was carried out against a background of funding cuts and a rapid decline in the number of arts teachers and hours spent on arts subjects in state-funded schools across England. This is reflected in the TALE findings which also reveal the challenges teachers face in providing a rich arts and cultural education for young people.

The research findings were launched at an event at the House of Lords on October 15th, 2018 during which Tate Director Maria Balshaw joined with Erica Whyman, RSC Deputy Artistic Director to call for five changes to ensure that arts and culture features in all young people’s education.

Further information can be found on the TALE project blog.

Tracking Arts Learning and Engagement is supported by Arts Council England.

Team Members

Project Leaders

Emily Pringle (Head of Learning Practice and Research, Tate)
Jacqui O’Hanlon (Director of Education Royal Shakespeare Company)

Project Team

Pat Thomson (Professor of Education, University of Nottingham)
Christine Hall (Professor of Education, University of Nottingham)
Alice Walton (Convenor, Schools and Teachers, Tate)
Leanne Turvey (Convenor, Schools and Teachers Learning,Tate)
Amy McKelvie (Curator, Schools and Teachers Learning, Tate)
Deborah Riding (Programme Manager, Children & Young People, Tate)
Melanie Stidolph (Curator, Schools and Teachers Learning, Tate)

More Information

Tate Research Centre: Learning

Promoting research, knowledge exchange with the aim of informing practice in the field of learning in galleries

The Practitioner Researcher in the Art Museum

Examining how museum professionals undertake research


Practice as Research

Supporting the development of professional practice as research within Tate's Learning Department


Tate Exchange Evaluation

Developing best practice in relation to researching and evaluating participatory arts, education and cultural activities