Research Projects

An Arts Council England Funded Project  

Project Title:

A Pilot Evaluation of Creative Circus Skills Workshops on KS2 pupil wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic, completed 2021.

Circus Skills Workshop Facilitators:

Steve Eldridge (Circus into Schools)

Evaluation authors:

Eleanor Hobden (Honorary Research Assistant)

Rebecca Snell (Honorary Research Assistant)

Dr Joshua Eldridge (Clinical Psychologist)


A series of six creative, arts-based, Circus Skills workshops were offered and provided to KS2 pupils across five social-economically deprived primary schools in Devon and Cornwall. Children’s feedback at the end of the workshop series indicated high enjoyment of the workshops. In addition, the feedback highlighted potential benefits related to increasing confidence, learning new skills and enhancing social integration.

Executive Summary.

o   KS2 pupils from 5 socio-economically disadvantaged primary schools accessed a series of six creative, arts-based, circus-skills workshops

o   There was initial indication of an increase in children’s wellbeing scores approaching a statistically significant level after, as compared to before the workshops

o   99% of children reported that they enjoyed the workshop series and learnt new things

o   83% of children expressed that the workshops helped them develop their confidence - “It was fun and helped me get my confidence back” (KS2 pupil)

o   80% of children said that the workshops helped them get on with others - “It brought me closer to people so I can have more friends” (KS2 pupil)

o   99% of children would recommend the workshops to others - “It is the best thing I’ve done in school”

2007/2008 We have completed a study on “The Impact of Cross Lateral, Kinaesthetic Exercise on Literacy and Self Esteem in Year 3 Pupils ”, which we have named the “Creative Curriculum Development Project”.

A small girl who has comoleted copy cups

 This Arts Council funded educational research project was undertaken by Ruth Gwernan-Jones and Abeer Al-Harbi, third year PhD students researching dyslexia, supported by Professor Robert Burden of Exeter University, a specialist in dyslexia and related issues. This was also known as Copy Cups.

Overall, Copy Cups proved to be an extremely enjoyable programme that children found fun and teachers found relatively easy to administer, that also supported children’s self-esteem, spelling and coordination.

The study showed that Copy Cups has the potential to support mainstream children in spelling and academic self-esteem, and that it particularly supported girls’ spelling.

 Copy Cups was found to support children with special educational needs in several ways: by building their confidence and self-esteem, by supporting spelling, by acting as a diagnostic tool, and by developing coordination.

There were some issues with noise and children becoming over excited, but this was over come by planning session before a break. A few children found the tasks too difficult.

2006 - We studied the effects of coordination exercises which involved crossing the mid line and impacted on children’s learning, concentration and self esteem, with particular reference to improving mathematical skills. (funded by the Primary Strategy Learning Network)

child learning to juggle with 2 balls

 We studied the effects of coordination exercises which involved crossing the mid line and impacted on children’s learning, concentration and self esteem, with particular reference to improving mathematical skills. This educational research project covered 600 mixed ability pupils across the infant/junior range and involved children from years 1 and 5. Steve Griffin was elected by the head teachers to produce an independent report.

The report stated that the cross lateral (crossing the mid line) component of the activities was particularly significant. It made use of the physical exercises to stimulate the left and right brain communications, thus helping the brain to be more integrated. Teachers are continuing to use the exercises from the project for PE and brain gym activities. The report stated “100% of pupils were highly engaged. There was significant improvement in the children’s coordination, concentration, self esteem and academic learning”. A copy of the assessment is available on request.

2004 - The effects of learning circus skills on the spelling, handwriting, fine motor skills and self esteem of special educational needs children (SEN) aged nine to twelve years. (funded by The Arts Council)

The children had specific learning difficulties, namely their literacy and numeracy skills. They received twelve hourly sessions spread over six months and were required to do juggling/ balancing “homework” between sessions. Educational psychologist Linda Falkner found two statistically significant results.

The average improvement in reading accuracy for the experimental group was nine months, whilst the control group improved by 2.72 months. The reading speed of the experimental group improved by 63%, in comparison with 5% in the control group.

These pieces of research were conducted by Circus Bezercus.