Unleashing potential and expanding horizons. Research looks at the power of art

Date 22.03.2023

The power of art is at the heart of a new exhibition highlighting University of Northampton (UON) research about learning in Northamptonshire primary schools.

Primary school children and their teachers from across the county were part of the ‘Take One Picture’ project from 2019-2021, putting a painting at the centre of their learning to explore the meaning and value of art.

The initiative comes from The National Gallery and involved children and teachers from schools in the Northampton Primary Academy Trust Partnership*.

The chosen painting was The Finding of Moses by Orazio Gentileschi and the children were tasked to unleash their creativity and celebrate the potential of art across the curriculum.

The children gained appreciation and understanding of art by visiting The National Gallery in person and online, investigating and critiquing the painting, creating their own art works and talking and writing about their experiences.

Research conducted by the University with NPAT teachers and students has revealed improved outcomes by the end of the programme in learning and the teaching of art, writing and skills including the children’s self-belief, motivation, empathy, and critical thinking.

NN Contemporary Art (NNCA) will exhibit the final paintings between the 30th March and 13th April 2023.

A separate strand to the research involved students from UON’s Fine Art degree who acted as ‘Artists-in-Residence’ supporting the teachers to give them extra confidence to develop their flair with a paintbrush.

Professor of Education at University of Northampton Jane Murray is the research lead and says: “Our research supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation shows the value of including arts in the primary curriculum. We have seen that children’s experiences of the arts are not only important for their own sake, but also for their potential to improve children’s outcomes in other subjects and how they enable children to acquire cultural capital and life skills.”

The full list of partners in this research is:

  • The Paul Hamlyn Foundation
  • The National Gallery
  • Northampton Primary Academy Trust
  • University of Northampton.