News 13 Jul 2021

Junior Conservatoires research consultation sought

We are currently seeking proposals from individuals or organisations to undertake research on CUK's Junior Conservatoires widening and participation activities.
Photo credit: Leeds Conservatoire

Conservatoires UK (CUK) is the voice of conservatoire education in the UK. Our role is to develop best practice for education in the performing arts (theatre, dance and music) and to promote the sector’s excellence nationally and globally.

CUK is committed to improving the equality, diversity and inclusion across the arts and recognises the need to support and actively engage with students from under-represented[1] backgrounds at various entry levels to its education provision, including through its Junior Conservatoires.

In this context, CUK is looking to contract a research consultant on a fixed term basis, to support the membership’s need to better track students from under-represented groups who are accessing their junior facilities and help CUK identify:

  • where these students are moving to once they have left Junior Conservatoires to gain a higher education level training (be it with a conservatoire or other HE providers).
  • how has their experience within a Junior Conservatoire supported their transition into HE.
  • what interventions are Conservatoires undertaking which successfully support access to HE.
  • what areas do they need to improve to ensure access and participation from underrepresented groups is maintained and increased.
  • what qualitative and quantitative data needs to be collected consistently across the membership to support their access and participation commitments.

Through this research, CUK would like to improve how it delivers its commitment to widening access and participation at a junior level and to share with key stakeholders the journey students from under-represented groups are taking through the CUK junior schools into higher education (including but not exclusively conservatoire education). This research project will be the first step in CUK’s current evaluation of its EDI commitments, and the results are intended to shape future similar research projects focused on the CUK Senior schools.

The outputs of this consultancy should include a written report providing key insights from the research undertaken, recommendations and the drafting of a data collection framework for CUK institutions to implement.

The research consultant will be expected to:

  • Lead the design process for the research, set a clear strategy and scope to obtain key information required within the contracted time-period.
  • Collaborate with the CUK team; this would include the CUK lead, the CUK EDI forum, CUK Junior forum and CUK colleagues as appropriate.
  • Implement the consultant’s plans for gathering additional information and insights that would support the research, including but not limited to surveys with beneficiaries (e.g. under-represented students at junior level, including alumni) and staff, and further desk-based research.
  • Analyse and distil discoveries into a written report that enable CUK to understand the impact of the junior conservatoires on the identified beneficiaries and draw out key learnings.
  • Propose areas for improvement.
  • Work with CUK to identify the findings which might best offer insights into Junior Conservatoires’ work and to help with their advocacy around access and participation.

Responsibilities of the Consultant: 

  • Analyse current HE widening and participation data requirements from the English, Scottish and Welsh Governments regulatory bodies.
  • Analyse current widening and participation plans of each CUK member and audit their current methods of data gathering in Junior conservatoires.
  • Examine the funding criteria of some key funders (Trust & Foundations etc.) supporting access and participation of creative education at a junior level.
  • Examine the recommendations made by the Durham Commission and research other policy development and recommendations in access and participation (such as but not exclusively the Welsh National Music Service, Arts Council England’s Diversity in Classical Music, the Association of British Orchestrasand Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation) to ensure that the data framework and recommendations are aligned to the wider sector’s needs.
  • Draft a data collection framework which takes into consideration what data currently exists between CUK members, what data needs to be gathered, recommendations to ensure the consistent gathering and use of this data comply with British GDPR laws.
  • Provide a written report meeting the specification.

Responsibilities of CUK

  • To provide documentation relevant to the mapping of Junior Conservatoires in terms of access and participation.
  • Introduce the consultant to parties of interest related to the research and recommendations.

The above list is not exhaustive, and we would expect deliverables to be further developed and agreed by the research consultant and CUK after the initial briefing meeting. This document contains CUK’s initial thoughts, but we are looking for a research consultant (this could be an individual or an organisation) to lead us through this process and bring their ideas and expertise.


  • September – October 2021 – Desk-based research to review existing documentation, 
  • October – November 2021 – Dialogue and research with key stakeholders
  • Early December 2021 – First draft of the report
  • January 2022– Final draft of the report. Dissemination might additionally include an online or real-world presentation to CUK Directors.


£6,000,inc. VAT for the period September 2021 to January 2022, to include travel expenses, subsistence and materials.

To apply:
We welcome applications from individuals or organisations.

Please send a CV or organisation portfolio including areas of practice and key achievements. A covering letter outlining you or your organisation’s skills and experience and a brief outline of your proposed methodology in relation to the brief.


Please send the above to by 10am 23rd July 2021. If you require this information in any other format or have any questions regarding the engagement, please contact Nadine Patel.

[1] Defined in this case as students from areas of low higher education participation, low household income or low socioeconomic status from any ethnic background, some black, Asian and minority ethnic students, disabled students (but may include students from other areas defined by OfS as under-represented)