Quality Principles Training: enriching youth cultural experiences

15th February 2022 - Kayla Herbert

Written by Tess Parker, Story Tiller Communications.


The power of arts and culture to touch young lives is clear. But meaningful cultural engagement of children and young people is harder to achieve. Since 2017, IVE have offered training to illuminate the Arts Council England’s seven Quality Principles. These are geared to champion youth voice in relation to creative and cultural experiences. Discover how Local Cultural Education Partnership (LCEP) members have recently gained new understanding of these principles and the impact this training has had on their local partnerships.

Arts Council England Quality Principles – maximising cultural impact

Since its pilot launch in 2012, Arts Council England’s (ACE) Quality Principles framework has underpinned quality creative and cultural experiences for children and young people.

With its emphasis on the ‘active’ engagement of the next generation of creators, it offers a methodology by which we can evaluate a meaningful cultural offer.

The seven quality principles are:

  1. Striving for excellence and innovation
  2. Being authentic
  3. Being exciting, inspiring and engaging
  4. Ensuring a positive and inclusive experience
  5. Actively involving children and young people
  6. Enabling personal progression
  7. Developing belonging and ownership

In these seesaw times, IVE sees these Quality Principles as a vital tool for measuring and deepening arts and cultural engagement amongst younger generations.

Quality Principles training: inspiring local collaboration and innovation

In 2017, IVE commissioned trainer and facilitator Sophie Hunter to devise a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) course to animate ACE’s Quality Principles. As an IVE Associate, Sophie’s more than twenty-five years of culture sector experience made her an ideal development partner.

Up until autumn 2021, IVE’s Quality Principles training had largely engaged individual arts and cultural organisations. However, a further training need was flagged by LCEP steering group members. As a result, between November 2021 and January 2022, a bespoke, Quality Principles training course was delivered to LCEP members.

This new, interactive course consisted of three, two and a half hour online sessions, spanning a variety of themes. Sessions were spaced apart to allow attendees to reflect on and apply new learning.

IVE was passionate that the training should have ‘real world’ significance for the participants. On this, LCEP members came with a key topic or project in mind. This enabled them to explore Quality Principles in a dynamic and relevant way.

In these Covid-19 times, remote training options have become the norm. Unfazed, Sophie drew on a range of interactive models to ensure engagement remained high.

“It’s efficient to work on Zoom, the break-out rooms work well, and the content is covered in an interactive manner… I mix up the groups so that they have a chance to chat to each other.  We also use a collective Jamboard to gather notes so that everyone can share their thoughts.”

Sophie was impressed by some notable ‘shifts’ in attendee mindsets and planning, across the course.

“It was really interesting and unexpectedly powerful to see participants shifting the emphasis in these sessions to their LCEP and finding that the Quality Principles work just as effectively with large-scale strategy work. I’ve really enjoyed people attending in pairs and threes – I think that’s been really useful.”

Quality Principles participants: putting cultural ideas into local practice

This Quality Principles training drew participants from LCEPs in Hull, Doncaster, Northeast Lincolnshire and Leeds.

In Hull, a longstanding commitment to young people’s voice, influence and cultural participation is embodied by Hull’s LCEP, Generation Hull. Ruth Drake, Arts Development Officer and Trish Dalby, Independent LCEP Chair, attended the training on behalf of their steering group.

Ruth found it invaluable to connect with peers and reflect on their cultural plans, “It was good to represent the LCEP and connect with peers. It was validating in terms of the path we are already on with Generation Hull. Quality Principles is a common language that we already use. The course was ‘clarifying’ in terms of those principles and offered us a chance for reflection.”

Although the learning was online, Ruth appreciated the chance to network and discuss with internal and external peers.

“The training was engaging and allowed for networking. I liked the mix of the bigger groups and breakaway sessions.”

In terms of the future, Ruth sees great value in reuniting as a cohort to share ‘distances travelled.’ In addition, she and Trish are excited for the start of a new, Generation Hull Project Lead. Funded via IVE’s Partnership Investment Fund, this freelance post-holder shall champion the Quality Principles alongside youth voice.

Maureen Sydney, Chair of Doncaster’s LCEP, found the Quality Principles training very clarifying. Locally, they have recently appointed a new Cultural Education Manager. Maureen believes that her learning from the course shall help induct this new team member.

“It was useful to hear from other partners about what they were doing and to have the opportunity to reflect on our current practices, compared with Arts Council expectations. As Chair of the DCEP with a newly appointed Cultural Education Manager (CEM) the info gleaned during the training will be invaluable during her induction.”

Maureen is excited by the potential to share her learning with colleagues. “I plan to discuss the Quality Principles with the new CEM and see how we can introduce them into ongoing training across the Steering Group.”

In addition, Maureen valued the chance to explore best practice around young people’s voice. She is currently forging stronger links with the Doncaster Youth Council, alongside exploring the concept of a Shadow Youth LCEP. Maureen so enjoyed this training she has already signed up for IVE’s Diversity and Inclusion Lab programme.

Building on Quality Principles learning: championing cultural futures

IVE’s Quality Principals LCEP training has already seen a strengthening of peer networking, ideas sharing and strategic purpose. By unlocking ACE’s vision, it has the potential to deepen creative and cultural provision for young people across the region.

As IVE transitions from its role as a Bridge organisation it is hoped that this Quality Principles training will help mobilise LCEP’s to become independent, cultural champions for their regions.

Learn more about your Local Cultural Education Partnership here.

Download the full case study as a PDF here

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