Case Studies of Successful Schools: Ashbury Public School
Ashbury Public School, in Sydney’s Inner West, runs an impressive band program in addition it’s classroom music, choir, and other musical activities.
Principal Sue Shelley has been crucial to the success and popularity of music at Ashbury, but she credits the parents with making a huge difference to the school’s music program.
The Band Committee – which is a sub-committee of the P&C – coordinate the Band program with a Liaison Band Teacher from the school staff. The parent group is actively involved in running the band program, which includes four bands and a number of smaller ensembles. In addition to the Band Committee’s hands on role running the band, other parents get involved in fundraising for larger instruments and equipment to support the overall program and supervising rehearsals on a rotating roster.
The only way I have seen effective a Band Program is with the full support of the parents and teachers,” says Sue, “without this parent body coordinating this program it wouldn’t be able to function at this capacity.
The school’s band program would be much smaller if it weren’t for the active involvement of the parents. “The actual quality of the band program would also be severely diluted,” she told Music Australia when asked how things would be different without the parental involvement, “and we would not be able to offer such performance opportunities.”
The effect of this school’s musically supportive parents extends beyond individual lessons and the band program and into the classroom for every student. Ashbury has also run Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) across the Release From Face to Face Program (RFF). “Every student K-6 is involved in music in this program” says Sue, “parents have really pushed and supported CAPA for the RFF program.”
Other schools often look to Ashbury for ideas about their own music programs. Sue’s advice for parents advocating for a more active school music program is that “if parents approach a Principal they will need to ensure that they can fully support this program, i.e. time, money for tuition and rehearsals etc.”
Credit: This case study was prepared as part of ‘Music to Our Ears’ which was commissioned by The Caledonia Foundation and Shark Island Productions, prepared by Annie O’Rourke (89° Degrees East) and written by Dennis Glover and Fiona Hehir. Editing and additional content by Chris Bowen, Dr Richard Letts and Alex Masso (Music Australia)