The Learning Diaries | Developing school audiences

Dispelling some of the obscurity around engaging school audiences

Schools make up an important part of most cultural organisations’ audiences. As research shows (check out section five of this report for a great overview of studies), engagement at a young age has the potential to engage audiences long term into their adult years. Visiting with family is a big influencing factor on future engagement, but importantly, school visits have the potential to engage those that might not otherwise get the opportunity to visit their local theatre or museum.

Developing a sustainable and long term relationship with schools can, at times, feel a little daunting. The Audience Agency worked with Curious Minds, the Bridge organisation for the North West, to try and dispel some of the obscurity around engaging schools – more specifically to try and highlight what schools look for and how the cultural sector could respond to this demand.

Key factors schools highlighted they were looking for:

  • Value for money: as budgets are getting tighter and tighter, schools are looking for programmes that can offer extra value and insight for their pupils.
  • Expertise in specific curriculum areas.
  • Support towards teacher development.
  • Ability to engage and support school pupils while on a visit.
  • Working in partnership with the school to plan a visit, including help with logistics and practicalities.
  • The biggest challenges highlighted by schools were insufficient time to research provision and too much paperwork.
  • Location and travel were also key issues, affecting in particular rural schools who often faced higher transport costs due to their remote locations.

To read the full report, please see here.

It will be exciting to see some of the work inspired by the Cultural Education Challenge, which sees arts and cultural organisations working together with Bridges in Cultural Education Partnerships.

Image c. Royal Opera House Bridge