Quality Principles

​Arts Council England has developed a set of principles by which the arts and cultural sector can underpin its work with, by, and for children and young people


Seven quality principles have been developed as a result of close collaboration between the Arts Council England and arts and cultural organisations that work with children and young people.

The seven quality principles are:

1. Striving for excellence and innovation

Having a clear vision and striving for excellence, through providing high- quality arts work and experiences, to achieve the best possible outcomes for children and young people.

Is there a real commitment in this project to achieving excellence by, with and for children and young people?

2. Being authentic

Being authentic in every aspect of the work, through offering as real and meaningful an artistic experience or product as possible, to help young people develop artistic and aesthetic awareness, understanding and skills.

Is it authentic; is it the real thing?

3. Being exciting, inspiring and engaging

Being exciting and engaging, through providing inspiring and relevant opportunities that stretch, challenge and excite children and young people, to foster both positive dispositions towards the arts, and to enhance their self-esteem, wider aspirations and life and career choices.

Are children and young people excited, engaged and inspired?

4. Ensuring a positive and inclusive experience

Ensuring a positive, child-centred experience for all children and young people, through having the passion, commitment, knowledge and skills for work involving children and young people, helping them to develop as confident individuals and celebrate their achievements. This would include encouraging individual contributions and valuing diversity.

Does it ensure a positive and inclusive experience?

5. Actively involving children and young people

Emphasising the active involvement of children and young people, through interactive opportunities – hands-on participation, direct collaboration, creative responses, or other interaction – to develop children and young people’s skills and creativity.

Are children and young people actively involved?

6. Enabling personal progression

Taking account of children and young people’s individual needs, through recognising their different starting points, experiences and achievements; enabling them to achieve their potential, and progress on to next steps in their learning and achievement.

Do children and young people progress and know where to go next?

7. Developing belonging and ownership

Focusing on children and young people’s sense of ownership and sense of belonging, through encouraging choice, autonomy, decision-making and creative responses, so that young people can make an informed judgement about ‘this is, or could be, or isn’t for me’.

Do children and young people feel they belong and it belongs to them?

Exploring Quality in Peer Practice (EQiPP)

Culture Bridge North East is currently working with 14 schools and 15 cultural organisations from across the region in the EQiPP programme (Exploring Quality in Peer Practice) 2017/18. 

EQiPP began in 2016, with 10 schools and 10 cultural organisations working together in pairs to explore enquiry questions linked to the Quality Principles.

Since then, a suite of resources has been developed by EQiPP participants to create The Quality Principles Toolkit.

Find out more about the EQiPP programme and how to get involved.

The Quality Principles Toolkit: some resources

The Quality Principles Toolkit is designed to support both schools and cultural organisations in using the Quality Principles.

Within the Toolkit, there are several resources, editable and printable versions of which can be downloaded here.

1) The Quality Principles confidence wheel (page 7 of the Toolkit)

Consider your practice as a whole, in relation to working with children and young people. Rate how well you feel your current work embodies each of the Quality Principles (the closer to the bullseye, the more confident you feel). Why do you think this is? What are your next steps for each one?

2) The Quality Principles reflection grid (pages 8 and 9 of the Toolkit)

List key elements of your programme down the left hand side of the grid (eg specific projects, ongoing elements of your offer, long-running clubs or groups for young people), then complete the grid to show how each element links to each of the Quality Principles. Not every box will be filled for every every project; this is more about looking at your programme as a whole.

3) Next steps with the Quality Principles (pages 12 and 13 of the Toolkit)

The Quality Principles aren't just a tick list of things to achieve - each one is a progression and it's always possible to develop practice around each principle. Use this tool to build a pathway and think about what the Quality Principles could look like in your work.

Choose the principle(s) you want to focus on, and think about what an emerging level of practice around this would look like - where are the starting points? Then move to the next box - how would you know you were secure in your work around this principle, and were making solid links to it? Finally, what would best practice look like here? What could your aspirations be? Your completed table will help you see what your next steps are and what success will look like.

4) Quality Principles planning template (pages 20 and 21 of the Toolkit)

Plan projects, units of work, or individual workshops or lessons against the Quality Principles, thinking carefully about how the work can embody each one. Use the prompts for each principle to ensure you've covered all angles. If you're working in partnership with an arts organisation or school, having everyone contribute to this plan gives clear shared goals. This structure of planning also makes it easy to reflect afterwards on successes and potential improvements.

5) The Quality Principles: interpreted by Year 3, St Joseph's RCVA Primary School (page 22 of the Toolkit)

St Joseph's Year 3 pupils were tasked with creating their own child-friendly version of the Quality Principles as part of a guided reading lesson; children worked in groups to analyse each principle and get to the heart of its real meaning.

6) An evaluation framework using the Quality Principles (page 25 of the Toolkit)

Using the statements as starting points for evaluation discussions as a simple way to measure the impact your work is having against the Quality Principles. How much do participating young people agree or disagree with each statement? Do their viewpoints change during the project?

7) Pupil target wheel (page 27 of the Toolkit) and 8) Teacher/cultural practitioner target wheel (page 28 of the Toolkit)

Use these to measure progression during a project, by asking all project partners and participants to complete them at the beginning, and then again at the end of the work. Wheels for pupils and staff ensure everyone's voice is heard. Use the wheels completed at the beginning of the project to help shape its direction; do you want this work to fill gaps? Or play to strengths?

9) Family activity feedback form (page 29 of the Toolkit)

This form is an example of how the Quality Principles can be used in the evaluation of less formal drop-in activities as well as longer, more structured projects. Use the statements to collect information from your audiences.

10) Sharing your Arts Award experience sheet (page 31 of the Toolkit)

Align the Quality Principles more closely with your Arts Award work by including this sheet in your Discover and Explore portfolios. Use it to encourage the children and young people you're working with to reflect upon their experiences and consider their own personal development.