led by students’ voices

It is important that research is communicated to interested audiences. In our case, this is particularly important as the TALE research generated a huge amount of data from students. We really want to respect the contribution that they made to the research by doing as much as we can to help make their voices and views public.

How many was it again? Well, we spoke with students in 340 focus groups and our survey was answered by  4,477. We have six thousand responses from young people about why they study the arts, and what kinds of arts and cultural activities they do out of school. This is certainly the largest response of its kind in the UK.

The Time to Listen launch used a verbatim theatre script of quotations from students – Creativity Verbatim (V4) – which was performed by students for attendees. The script was developed by the RSC using selected data supplied by the research team.

The RSC have now done further work on how young people’s voices might be valued and heard. Their next iteration has been using quotations to stimulate discussion.

The researchers Chris and Pat provided a large set of student quotations organised into the key themes. Jacqui and Fiona from the RSC  selected a representative group of about 50 quotations, each printed on a separate piece of paper.


The discussion session begins with an explanation about the research and where the quotes come from. Participants are told about the size and duration of the research – the biggest piece of arts education research to date in England, and the one with the largest body of student responses.

Each sheet is laid out randomly on the floor. Participants are invited to select the ten quotations that mean most to them. As there are always more quotes than the ten, whittling the choice down to ten requires group discussion and negotation.

Participants are then asked to choose the one quotation that means most to them and as a group discuss the reasons for their choice.


The exercise is a powerful way to generate a lot of discussion about the value of arts learning, while at the same time engaging with key results from the research. And the discussion is led by the voices and views of young people.

Jacqui and Fiona from the RSC have used this approach with RSC young leaders, with teachers and with attendees at the Midlands HE-Culture Forum – these photos were taken by Pat at a forum conference yesterday. Participants were struck by the power and insight of students and the importance of their expert views of their own experiences.


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