Power of Pictures

Power of Pictures is part of a broader programme of work entitled ‘Learning about Culture’, which aims to improve the evidence base around arts-based education programmes. This is coordinated by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Royal Society for the Arts.

Specialist training from published author-illustrators and the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) expert teachers helps primary teachers to develop their understanding of the craft of picture book creation as a way of raising children’s achievement in literacy. Teachers attend training days where they work directly with author-illustrators and learn related techniques to use in their own teaching such as creating characters by first drawing and discussing them. This can lead to the development of richer and more sophisticated characters, which improves the quality of pupils’ writing. Teachers are provided with teaching sequences, a copy of the author’s book, and extensive online resources, including author interviews.

After the training days, the author-illustrator works directly with students, providing a memorable and exciting opportunity for them. In addition, a member of staff from CLPE accompanies the author-illustrator so that they can coach the teacher in using the techniques. CLPE are a nationally recognised provider of literacy courses and resources and much of their work has a distinctive cultural dimension.

Why are we funding it?

Beginning in 2014, the programme was developed with funding from the Arts Council and has been through 10 cycles, each involving a different author-illustrator. The evidence for the specific project is limited, but the programme is based on many well-evidenced principles. For example, there is extensive evidence indicating the promise of explicitly teaching pupils about the writing process and about the structure of stories. Power of Pictures also involves the use of illustration to improve comprehension, which is recognised as a reading comprehension strategy and well-supported by evidence.

How are we evaluating it?

Teams from The Behavioural Insights Team and The Institute of Education (UCL) have been appointed to conduct the evaluation. The main trial will consist of a two-armed randomised controlled trial, with 120 Year 5 teachers randomised to treatment or a business as usual control.

The primary outcome will be a measure of children’s writing capability, which includes creative writing. A secondary character outcome will measure children’s writing self-efficacy. There will also be a cultural measure of ideation (children’s ability to generate ideas and articulate them to others) spanning all five cultural learning trials.

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation report will be published in Summer 2020.