What are the Quality Principles?


The Quality Principles are seven principles that make up an evaluation framework for working with children and young people.

They have been piloted by Arts Council England in partnership with the National Foundation for Educational Research. The Quality Principles are a fundamental proposition that supports us all to deliver or receive “great” arts and culture experiences. They provide a shared language for the arts and cultural sector, schools and other formal and informal education settings to assess their work.

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.

Are you making a real commitment to achieving excellence by, with and for children and young people?

Steps to take:

  • Aim to achieve the best experiences for children and young people
  • Innovate and take calculated risks
  • Aim for the best artistic quality
  • Expect commitment and high standards
  • Invest in preparation, learning, coaching and reflection

2. Being authentic

Offering a real and meaningful artistic experience or product, to help young people develop artistic awareness, understanding and skills.

How can you ensure that what you’re doing is ‘the real thing’? 

Steps to take:

  • Provide real experiences, not ‘surface level’ appeal or a ‘cut down’ version of something designed for adults
  • Set the experience in context
  • Develop artistic skills and understanding

3. Being exciting, inspiring and engaging

Providing inspiring and relevant opportunities that stretch, challenge and excite children and young people. Foster positive dispositions towards the arts, and enhance their self-esteem, wider aspirations and life choices.

Are children and young people actively engaged, inspired and excited by what you’re providing for them?

Steps to take:

  • Choose themes that excite and inspire
  • Ensure work is relevant to children and young people
  • Aim to have an impact on young people now and in the future
  • Challenge young people to take on new ideas

4. Ensuring a positive and inclusive experience

Ensuring a positive, child-centered experience for all 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 includes encouraging individual contributions and valuing diversity.

What are you doing as an individual or organisation to ensure you’re providing a positive and inclusive experience for children and young people?

Steps to take:

  • Work with adults who are passionate about working with children and young people and who have the right skills
  • Clear, honest communication and flexibility
  • Working alongside, sharing skills
  • Valuing individuals, encouraging young people from different backgrounds and with different needs
  • Make it OK to be different

5. Actively involving children and young people

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

Are children and young people genuinely and actively involved in your work?

Steps to take:

  • Actively engage young audiences
  • Hands-on involvement
  • Direct collaboration

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.

Can children and young people progress from your projects, and do they know where to go next?

Steps to take:

  • Find out what a young person can do and what interests them
  • Consider what they might want to do next
  • Make connections and referrals

7. Developing belonging and ownership

Focusing on children and young people’s sense of ownership and belonging, 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 that they belong, and crucially, do they feel they have ownership of something they’ve created?

Steps to take:

  • Encourage choice, autonomy, decision-making and creative responses
  • Provide opportunities for children and young people to take the lead and set the direction
  • Welcome children and young people
  • Help them feel ‘part of the family’