Local communities – guidance

Taking Part: information for survey users

What users need to know about the Taking Part survey, the main evidence source on cultural and sporting engagement for DCMS, surveying adults 16 and over and children 5 to 15 in England.


The Taking Part (TP) survey has run since 2005 and is the main evidence source for DCMS. It is a continuous face to face household survey of adults aged 16 and over in England and children aged 5 to 15 years old.

The survey’s main objectives are to

  • provide a central, reliable evidence source that can be used to analyse cultural and sporting engagement, providing a clear picture of why people do or do not engage
  • meet the needs and interests of everyone who uses Taking Part data, including relevant public bodies and the public
  • underpin further research on driving engagement and the value and benefits of engagement

The survey provides annual data for children, and both annual and quarterly data for adults. It also contributes to the evidence base across a wide range of topics, including

  • participation in culture and sport
  • satisfaction with and enjoyment of culture and sport
  • social capital
  • volunteering
  • barriers to participation

Taking Part is a continuous national survey, with fieldwork conducted by TNS-BMRB. It sampled responses from around 14,000 people in 2008 to 2009.

Taking Part has been designated a National Statistic by the UK Statistics Authority, meaning that it meets the highest possible standards of quality.

Survey content

The main areas for which the Taking Part survey collects data are:

  • arts
  • museums and galleries
  • archives
  • libraries
  • heritage
  • sport

For each of these areas, the survey also collects data about the reasons for participating and not participating, barriers to participation, and the frequently of participaton.

In addition to these areas, the survey gathers data on a variety of other sectors and topics. These include:

  • social capital
  • engagement in sectors while growing up
  • volunteering
  • internet, TV and radio use and access
  • 2012 Olympics
  • attitudes to heritage and the arts
  • demographics

Consultation on sport participation measurement (now closed)

We ran a consultation during the summer of 2012 (June to August) on proposals to change the way sport is measured in the TP and Active People (APS) surveys.

There was an excellent level of response from a wide selection of stakeholders and our thanks go to all who took the time to respond.

Most respondents supported local and sport specific measurement, with a single result for sport, and data collected through a mixed mode.

Consultees also expressed the importance of retaining consistency with previous results, which means that we need to implement any potential changes carefully through testing and with technical advice.

We therefore intend to take a considered and phased approach to survey improvements, testing different modes and their effect on the national, sport and local result, to inform any future changes and/or integration.

What we are implementing now:

  • APS data collection was extended to include 14 and 15 year olds from summer 2012
  • we have begun work to harmonise the sports questions in TP and APS as a first step to a single measure of sports participation
  • both of these steps were strongly supported in the consultation

Further testing underway:

  • trialling data collection using mobile phones: mobile phone telephone interviews with mobile only households were tested during APS 5 (2010 to 2011) and data collection commenced in October 2012 via mobile phones without screening for mobile phone only households and via a mobile ‘app’
  • an online pilot has been set up and fieldwork commenced in November 2012
  • parallel runs of face to face and telephone interviewing using the APS questions to measure mode differences have been completed
  • trials to examine the impact of prompting and options for using prompts in telephone interviewing have begun (prompting is currently used in TP)
  • the Methodology Advisory Service and the Government Statistical Service Methodological Advisory Committee within the Office of National Statistics and the survey contractors TNS-BMRB have provided guidance on mixed-mode integration of results
  • assess procurement options and potential to use a single contract for the survey(s) in the future

Further updates will be available during 2013.

Resources for Taking Part users


Taking Part NETQuest is a user-friendly online program that enables you to quickly and easily analyse Taking Part survey data.

NETQuest allows users to select the topics they are interested in and create tables, charts and graphs to their own specification. NETQuest currently contains data for the survey years up to 2010 to 2011.

In order to access the site, users are required to register and will receive a password once this process is completed.

If you have any queries or would like to provide feedback, please contact netquest@culture.gsi.gov.uk

Guidance on the Taking Part survey

Find out more about interviews, methodology, quality of the statistics and how to interpret them

User events

Find out more about the user events organized by the Taking Part survey:

Quality indicators

Find out more about the quality indicators for the Taking Part survey

Longitudinal element

Find out more about the longitudinal element for the Taking Part survey (2012)


Find all of the questionnaires from the adult and child Taking Part surveys.

Questionnaire changes

Find out more about the changes to the questionnaire for the Taking Part survey (2012)

Technical reports

Find all of the technical reports for the adult and child Taking Part surveys.


These are deposited for public access at the Economic and Social Data Service at Essex University. Please note that datasets are deposited for not-for-profit educational and research purposes only.

Statistical releases

Find all of the statistical releases from the Taking Part survey

Further research

Some of the research and analysis that has been carried out using Taking Part data.

Follow Taking Part

If you would like to join the Taking Part mailing list and be kept up-to-date with Taking Part developments, please email your details to takingpart@culture.gsi.gov.uk.

Follow Taking Part on twitter using the #takingpart hashtag.


We are always interested to hear your views on the Taking Part survey. Please contact us by email at takingpart@culture.gsi.gov.uk