Get Schools Singing

This post was first published on the Call for Ideas page of the Suffolk/RSA review: Raising the Bar (www.rtbsuffolk.org)

The creative arts provide over 2 miillion jobs in the UK, and 6.2% of the UK’s local income comes from creative industries. That’s just the figures – the emphasis given to the Olympic and Paralympic opening ceremonies demonstrates how much we value using the creative arts as an expression of our national identify and as a means of communicating.  Creative activities invite tourists – especially in Suffolk where we have festivals, dance facilities and theatres of national standing and an internationally important concert venue.

 

There is plenty of  evidence about the wider educational benefits of learning a musical instrument (including of course singing), added to which participation in the creative arts promotes and helps develop a whole range of ‘soft skill’s essential for employment in other contexts: the ability to collaborate, to listen, to lead, (to name just three, there are more).  Participation in the arts can also be the key to a young persons’ sense of self, and helps increase confidence; crucially young people do not also need to be high achievers in other areas  in order to benefit educationally, personally and socially from the opportunities that participation in the creative arts can bring. As much evidence shows (e.g. by the Young Foundation), children & young people with positive self-esteem and who are emotionally resilient are better able to learn.

 

How is this relevant to Raising The Bar? I would like to see the following happen, and think they would bring benefits to children and young people across the county:

1) Suffolk as an education authority should promote creative arts subjects at GCSE.  The current lack of arts subjects within EBacc means that schools may not feel they can promote these subjects, despite the evident benefits they bring to both the individuals and their future job prospects.

2) High schools and their feeder primaries could be supported and encouraged to do joint arts events such as drama productions, concerts, art shows etc. (as some schools do, or have done in the past). This would not only broaden opportunities for participation,  but it would help promote links between primary and high schools for pupils and their parents. It would also, in my view, help give parents a sense of engagement with high schools which (without the school gate routine) can be difficult to establish.  One event a year, for example, would not be too onerous, but would nonetheless provide a focus for shared activity.

3) Suffolk should definitely continue to support the Schools Celebration of Music at Snape, and events for the other performing arts. The Celebration provides an opportunity and enriching experience which simply would not be available to so many pupils otherwise, and makes one of Suffolk’s most significant cultural assets meaningful for pupils and parents living here.

4)  There are currently only two platinum-award SingUp schools in Suffolk (both primary schools), though a number of other schools have gold and silver awards. (SingUp is a fantastic resource available to all schools for less than £200 per year which helps schools without specialist staff use singing within the everyday curriculum.). Platinum schools can act as ambassadors for SingUp locally, and SCC could actively promote and support (in encouragement and practical terms) the sharing of these skills across schools.   One way to do this would be to provide opportunities for inter-school learning, where staff from platinum schools (or ‘gold’ schools able to do this) share their experience and ideas.  Singing promotes wellbeing and brings educational benefits which are transferable to other areas of learning. But staff not used to singing need opportunities to hear ideas, acquire appropriate resources and, crucially, develop confidence in their ability to sing themselves. Inter-school workshops (on PD days, for example) could be the key here.
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