Can the Arts help Achievement?

The arts have always played a vital role in a school’s curriculum. They provide the balance between those highly structured academic subjects like maths, English and science. They can give children experience of culture and belonging away from the routine of the classroom.
Beyond this however, they can provide the key for some children to flourish. Lack of progress in the subjects mentioned above does not mean that a child cannot achieve success in school. It might be in music, art, design – all manner of things that just releases talent that within the formal subjects remains hidden. This can then lead to an increase in confidence so that they will have a go at those (for them) ‘difficult’ subjects. It can also move them into a new group of friends who are now in awe of their skills.
FILMCLUB together with Save the Children UK and the Times Educational Supplement are holding a debate entitled ‘Closing the Gap’. The purpose of the debate which has a line-up of highly respected speakers is to bring attention to the continuing gap in educational achievement between children from different economic and social backgrounds. It’s focus is the arts and how they can raise the aspirations of children in challenging areas who have not had the best of starts in their educational lives.
The purpose of this post is to invite you to join the debate. Have you had children in your classes who have seemed to be very much at the poorer end academically but have blossomed through singing or dancing? Have you used the arts to raise literacy levels? If you are a parent, how is your child’s artistic talent supported in school? What do you think the implications of the spending cuts will be on the arts in schools? Will those be the areas that will be cut first?
Although there are no more tickets available for the debate, the organisers want as many views to be passed through to the speakers. Please leave your views below in the comments. They will then be collected and passed on to the speakers. This is not a sponsored post – I just feel passionately that the arts must have a stronger voice in our children’s education.

Image courtesy of Google Image
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  • I have linked to this post in my Daily Digest which highlights the best educational Blog posts as I thought it would be of interest to school staff.

    • Anonymous

      Many thanks. Let’s hope people engage with the debate. Too many art things are being scrapped because they are seen as ‘luxury’ items almost!

      • This topic has been added to the #ukedchat question options, but is in the hands of the moderators to select as such! In my opinion, the arts offer an opportunity to access visual literacy, and can be an avenue for engagement. It depends on what people constitute as ‘arts’, as this can be very personal to people. I was reminded of this last week when I visited the Tate gallery in Liverpool, with some pieces really touching me, whilst my family wondered what on earth I was on about, and vice versa. The point I make here, is that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ with the arts, therefore a variety of different media need to be implemented across the curriculum, across the school years. At that point, it is down to the courage of the teacher (and leadership team) to move away from ‘straight jacket’ teaching, embracing what the different media have to offer.

  • Queenie

    Well the arts are close to my heart of cause because I trained as a dancer, then ran my own performing arts company, which lead me into primary schools. Now a primary teacher and a dance specialist for primary schools, I see first hand the benefits that the arts bring to children, from confidence to concentration. At the moment I am working in a school which is in a deprived area and the performing arts play a large role within the school and the wider community, making the curriculum more accessable to children that find it differcult to learn the conventional way.

  • Adrian Smith

    I was at meeting with a DFE secretary of state many years ago and she told us this story she had been told by an art teacher:
    A student in year 11 had recieved an interview date for a job he had applied for and told his art teacher. The teacher told him he should take his art portfolio with him and in return recieved a look of bewiderment from the student, who repiled asking, “What was the point of that as he was probably going to stack shelves or be a cashier at least to begin with”.
    The teacher sat him down and took him through his portfolio: “Look at this fine pen and ink drawing – that will show them you can pay attention to detail; look at this beautiful still life – that will tell them how observant you are; look at this oil painting – that will show them you have an eye for colour and their combinations both subtle and loud; look at this collage – that will tell them you are the man to do their displays and make it look exciting; look at this lino print that took 3 weeks to prepare – that will show them that your patience is an assett and getting the job done matters and look at your abstracted self portrait showing a confident young man with a twist of humour – that will surely help in freindships. And finally, this picture of a sculpture that we all did together, that will show them what a great team member you are. Take it with you and talk them through your work”
    He got the job and soon became their ablest apprentice and is now a store manager well liked by colleagues for his rounded skills and appreciation of theirs.
    Rememeber: science explains how we are here and art explains why we are here!
    Adrian in Bristol

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