The development of a decision matrix to guide and support the provision of effective arts programs in schools

Katrina Skewes McFerran*, Alexander Hew Dale Crooke, Megan Steele, Gary McPherson, John Hattie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In the current education climate, Australian schools are encouraged to provide arts programs, yet there is little dedicated funding for provision and leadership must balance resource allocation with other curriculum and policy priorities. To determine how best to support school leaders in this area, we undertook a three-year project with local industry partners to investigate relationships between different provision approaches, benefits and conditions necessary to realize them, using an emergent, three-stage design. Stage 1 explored current arts provision approaches in 19 Catholic primary schools in Melbourne, along with notions of sustainability. Stages 2 and 3 used ethnographic methods to develop and trial a decision-making matrix to facilitate discussion with school leaders about arts provision goals and provision feasibility. Leaders identified several distinct goals for engaging the arts, and a range of outcomes were anticipated that would require certain conditions and inputs for different program models to be successful. These goals, models, conditions and inputs were organized into a logic model that became the refined Arts Engagement Matrix. Trials showed that the matrix was considered accessible, and capable of assisting leadership navigate arts provision. While not prescriptive, we argue this matrix offers a uniquely comprehensive tool to help school leaders make realistic decisions about how the arts could enrich their school community.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100155
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Research Open
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

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