Primary school pupils will be taking part in daily singing, weekly drama and TV news reporting lessons as part of a £1.1 million research programme.
The Learning about Culture project will include trials of five different schemes that use these approaches, and will measure their impact on test scores and social skills.
The project, funded by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Royal Society of the Arts, is now seeking 400 schools to take part in the randomised control trials in different parts of England.
Schools are particularly needed in areas where deprivation is high and arts participation is low.
Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “All children, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, deserve a well-rounded, culturally rich, education.
“But with schools increasingly accountable for the impact of all of their spending decisions on pupil attainment, there is an urgent need for more and better evidence on the relative benefits of different approaches and strategies.
“Not only will today’s new trials provide cultural learning opportunities to thousands of primary pupils who might not otherwise have the opportunity, but they will give us much needed evidence on the impact of different approaches.”
The trials include a music education programme for five- and six-year-olds which involves singing every day and learning musical games. First Thing Music from Tees Valley Music Service is based on the Hungarian Kodály approach.
There is also a trial of the London Bubble Theatre Company’s Speech Bubbles programme for five to seven-year-olds who have poor attention and listening skills.
Pupils taking part will have weekly drama sessions led by teaching assistants working with theatre practitioners. The pupils will take turns as authors, performers and the audience.
And the other three trials will be focused on writing skills:
* The Power of Pictures, delivered by the London-based Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, will involve teachers and their pupils working with author-illustrators to learn how to use picturebooks to boost reading and writing skills.
* The Craft of Writing will involve teachers taking part in two weekend courses developed jointly by creative writing charity Arvon, the University of Exeter and the Open University, to see if developing teachers’ own skills as writers can improve their Year 5 pupils’ confidence in writing.
* Around 3,000 primary school pupils will set up their own newsroom in an evaluation of Paradigm Arts’ Young Journalist Academy. Journalists will work alongside the pupils to help them write and publish newspaper articles, as well as to put together radio and TV packages.
All five projects will be evaluated by a team of independent researchers led by the UCL Institute of Education and the Behavioural Insights Team, the former government ‘nudge unit’ which is a social purpose company.
The evaluations will look at the impact on children’s academic scores and behaviours like resilience, self-confidence and creativity. Research into how to get the most benefit from the projects will also be carried out.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA, said: “Evidence of how arts can make a difference to learning can help make the case, but on its own, it can’t guarantee effectiveness. That is why we’re pleased to be working with arts educators and teachers around the country, to help them turn evidence into more effective practice and ensure that all children can get the full benefits of participation.”
The projects that have been funded are: