It’s the same story all around the world. Students are missing out on access to music education because it is not seen as important as other subjects. With schools under increasing pressure to perform well in standardised testing, music is often treated as a luxury and frequently cut from the timetable.
At Feversham Primary Academy in the UK, however, The Guardian recently reported that arts subjects have been embedded into the daily activities of all students – and the results have been truly remarkable. Head teacher, Naveed Idrees, has embedded music, drama and art into every part of the schools day. Students receive up to 6 hours of music every week during school hours and have access to a range of additional music activities. After special measures were put in place in 2010, Feversham is now in the top 10% nationally for student progress in reading, writing and maths.
These outcomes are particularly impressive when you consider the demographic details of the school. 99% of all students speak a language other than English as their primary language when at home. 30 different languages are spoken by members of the school’s student population. The students also live in densely populated areas with a low socio-economic standing.
In addition to improved outcomes in literacy and numeracy, Idrees has also seen a significant increase in student attendance. The school’s attendance has increased to 98%, as the amount of music taught has risen. Music is also often incorporated into other subjects to assist student learning and to support the musical development of individual students. The school is incredibly supportive of this. 9 year old, Abiha Nasir, is the first Muslin girl to have been accepted into the region’s gifted and talented music program for primary students.
On the decision to facilitate more music in the school, Idrees says:
“We were in special measures. We had low staff morale, parents not happy with the school, results were poor and nobody wanted to come here…We could have gone down the route where we said we need to get results up, we’re going to do more English, more maths, more booster classes, but we didn’t…we want kids to enjoy learning…my hope is that head teachers and people holding purse strings, possibly even the people who make important decisions in the government, will read about our school and realise that creative subjects are not mere add-ons but essential for the progress of all pupils.”