A pupil’s socio-economic background and their region can have a considerable effect on their chances of visiting a museum, claims new research from Art Fund.
The charity suggests just over half of less privileged pupils – those from working class backgrounds – have visited a museum in the past year, compared to 70% of children from middle and upper-middle class backgrounds.
The data comes from a study carried out last month by YouGov for Art Fund, which asked over 1,000 children aged 6-15 years about their museums visits.
The research found 1 in 3 (35%) children say they hadn’t visited a museum in the past year.
Regional disparity also contributes to inequity in museum access. Pupils from London (75%) are significantly more likely to have visited a museum in the past year compared to those living in the Midlands or Wales (57%) and Northern England or Scotland (60%).
A second piece of research among 8,943 teachers, undertaken by Teacher Tapp for Art Fund in August 2023, suggests that over a third (36%) of teachers say visits to museums are down post pandemic. This increased to 40% of teachers in the Midlands and North West, compared to 31% in London.
Jenny Waldman, Director of Art Fund said, “Our research has revealed real disparity in pupils’ access to museums across the country. Children’s ability to enjoy museums, galleries and historical places shouldn’t be determined by their socio-economic status or geographical location.”
Following the research, Art Fund has launched the Teacher Art Pass, which works similarly to its Art Fund’s National Art Pass at a subsidised price. It includes free entry to over 250+ museums, galleries and historical houses, up to 50% off exhibitions and guidance on what to visit.
In a pilot scheme with 1000 teachers, Art Fund said 85% of teachers reported finding the benefits of museum visiting useful to their teaching practice, in turn improving educational outcomes for pupils.
Waldman added: “By connecting more teachers with museums and galleries, we can boost all children’s access to cultural experiences, inspiring teachers and their pupils and improving education outcomes for all.”
Maths teacher and broadcaster Bobby Seagull is among those supporting Art Fund’s campaign.
He said: “It’s shocking to see the disparity between different parts of the country and different levels of advantage. I support the Art Fund’s campaign to get more teachers visiting museums through the Teacher Art Pass and spreading the inspiration and joy that learning outside the classroom can provide.”
Adam Creen is the Head of Maths at a secondary school in Surrey who has taken part in the pilot Teacher Art Pass pilot.
Creen said: “As a maths teacher, museums and galleries may not sound like the first point of call when seeking creative input for lesson planning. However I’ve found, admiring art created using mathematical patterns such as Fibonacci, or discovering historical figures that have used the art of maths to create some of the world’s most ground-breaking inventions really beneficial.
“As teachers we face a range of challenges which can lead to our own wellbeing being side-lined. It’s vitally important we prioritise opportunities to recharge our energy in order to deliver our best work.”