Creative curriculum

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By Lindsay Thomas
on 18 August, 2017

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The value of arts education

The notion of a child’s entitlement to a rich, broad and balanced curriculum has been present for many decades but the implementation continues to vary enormously from school to school. A range of evidence shows that the best schools achieve high standards in literacy and numeracy by celebrating, not neglecting, all subjects.

The broad and balanced curriculum inspires pupils to learn. The range of subjects and courses helps pupils acquire knowledge, understanding and skills in all aspects of their education, including the humanities and linguistic, mathematical, scientific, technical, social, physical and artistic learning.

A broad and balanced curriculum – key findings from Ofsted, 27 September 2016.

Whilst I appreciate the demanding external pressures facing schools when making curriculum decisions, I feel strongly about the entitlement of all children to an exciting and varied curriculum. Leading a large music service, I frequently have conversations with schools about the value of a broad and rich curriculum, particularly in relation to music and the performing arts. This invariably leads to anecdotes about the sometimes transformational activities I have been privileged to observe that enable pupils to celebrate talents and achieve their potential.

Performers at the Music Showcase 2017

I’d like to share one of those experiences with you as I was recently at our large annual Showcase performance featuring primary, secondary and SEND schools and academies, as well as our out-of-school music centres. The performers reflected the diversity of the local communities and the ethos of sharing, celebrating and inclusion. The evening was compered by two young presenters. Prior to the event, young people arrived to rehearse – some confident and independent; others excited and fascinated by the venue; and some accompanied closely by their school staff or carers. I was keen to welcome everyone and having worked for many years in special schools, I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the specialist high school students who were performing. One of the older pupils was happily wandering around the reception area watched by his carer. I knew he was the lead rapper in the school band and asked him if he was ready to sing. He glanced at me, walked off and repeated the word sing, which was in line with his developmental stage of language development. An hour later on stage, the same student was rapping authentically to an enthralled audience. As the applause died down, the same pupil spontaneously vocalised, “We can do it, we can do it.”

The Jazz Ticket

The rap was followed by a performance demonstration featuring several pupils with complex needs, who were encouraged to listen and respond to their own personalised stimuli by a skilled music therapist, showing that a means of communicating is possible.   

One parent, Angela Kelly, said to me, “Myself, our family, and our friends are bursting with pride after seeing the concert last night. For us it enabled our two children to shine together through the music they showcased even though they attend different schools and music centres. I'm hoping that we can be part of this for many years to come.”   

I am passionate about every child having the opportunity to experience a broad curriculum and to express themselves through music, dance, drama, design and visual art. I believe that this enrichment supports social, emotional and academic development, which in turn leads to social mobility and lifelong wellbeing.

If you are interested in attending or performing in any of our music events, or would like to discuss a bespoke school or cluster Showcase, please contact Lindsay Thomas, head of One Education Music on 0844 967 1111, or get in touch via our enquiry form below.

Comments (3)

  • Glyn Young avatar

    Glyn Young

    Your article was very interesting . I spent my working life in Manchester and experienced a whole range of arts activities at a time when money was plentiful It's good to see that the richness of the arts continues
    Glyn Young
    Chair of Governors at The Divine Mercy RC Primary School

  • lindsay thomas avatar

    lindsay thomas

    Thanks for your comment Glyn - I too am heartened by the opportunities that many schools provide thanks to committed leadership teams. Long may it continue!

  • John Wm Stephens avatar

    John Wm Stephens

    It's great to see this long and inclusive tradition of celebrating the arts. There is always a risk that some children and young people will not have access to opportunities to learn through music. This work ensures that there is the opportunity for all to participate and to progress through to excellence. This is important work in the cultural life of our children, families and communities. Long may it continue!

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