This scheme enabled a doctoral student or early career academic researcher to do a short-term work placement with a company from within London’s Creative Economy. Below are examples of placements that Creativeworks London has funded. More information about the scheme can be found here.

PHD-In-Residence Scheme

Coney and Sam Holmes from King’s College London

SME Partner

David Cahill Roots, Coney

PhD Student

Sam Holmes, King’s College London


Dr Roxy Harris, King’s College London

Project Name

Building an evidence base for the impact of responsive narrative adventures within formal learning.

Project Description

The aim of the residency was for PhD student Sam Holmes to research the extent to which Coney’s Adventures in Learning (AiL) scheme can improve children’s motivation to learn, and lead to improved attainment in curriculum areas. The scheme delivers formal learning through an adventure narrative, digital communication tools and live performance in schools, making children the heroes of their own adventure.

Research carried out by Holmes found that the learning environment that AiL creates is one of ‘empowering space’ between both pupils and teachers, this can be seen when the adventure is introduced to the class and the teachers know as little about it as the pupils, so for the first time the teachers are cast as their pupils’ peers.

Holmes has described how teachers’ “plausible ignorance” creates an empowering space where each pupil’s suggested solutions to a problem are as valuable as anyone’s – including their teacher’s. Were the project to be framed as a fiction in advance, this levelling effect would be lost.

Holmes’s study indicates other benefits of AiL. He compared two group classes of same-year pupils from sister primary schools, both using the same curriculum and structure. One group took part in Coney’s A Cat Escapes adventure, while the other covered the same topics using traditional lessons. Holmes found that the Cat Escapes group produced “higher -quality work, suggesting a significant impact from the AiL”. The AiL class performed twice as well as the control group in the area of “cross-curricular problem solving”.

The research has shown the positive impact of AiL in classrooms and has strengthened Coney’s case for delivery of AiL in schools, indicating clear value and encouraging more teachers and head teachers to commit funds and time to this methodology.

The Guardian Blog piece by Coney’s Tom Bowtell Teaching pupils that genies are real can work magic in the classroom details the work and impact of the Adventures in Learning scheme.


Queen Mary - University of London
Arts & Humanities Research Council
European Union
London Fusion

Creativeworks London is one of four Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to develop strategic partnerships with creative businesses and cultural organisations, to strengthen and diversify their collaborative research activities and increase the number of arts and humanities researchers actively engaged in research-based knowledge exchange.