Friday, September 25, 2015

Opera company pushes up school results

Here's what Opera North has to say about the results of its schools programmes with In Harmony in Leeds and Hull. It's more proof that learning music helps with learning everything.

We all know this by now. Yet how many more times do we have to hear it before that powers-that-be take some notice of it and make sure that every schoolchild in the country can have access to music education? See info below from ON's press office.


Opera North, the national opera company in the North of England, is celebrating a dramatic increase in academic achievement with two primary schools in Yorkshire, where it delivers intensive music programmes as part of the Company’s extensive Education work.

Windmill Primary School in Belle Isle, Leeds (In Harmony Opera North), and Bude Park Primary School in Bransholme, Hull (Opera North Singing School) have both seen significant rises of up to 20% in their KS2 SATS results this year.

As part of the Opera North programmes, both primary schools allocate up to 3 hours of musical delivery within curriculum time every week for every child, with children taking part in up to 7.5 hours of musical delivery overall. Leaders at the two schools strongly believe that the music programmes enhance both personal and academic development.

At Windmill Primary School, 2015 results in Key Stage 2 SATS exams, taken by 10 and 11 year olds, have increased the percentage of children attaining a Level 4 in Reading from 78% in 2014 to 98.7% in 2015.

In Writing, 86.7% achieved Level 4 or above, up from 75.6%, while the results in Maths increased from 73.2% to 93.3% of children attaining Level 4 or above.

In Harmony Opera North, funded by Arts Council England and the Department for Education, began in Windmill Primary School in the Belle Isle area of South Leeds, in January 2013. Every child in the school participates in up to 3 hours musical activity per week during curriculum time and many children attend Opera North ‘After School’ music sessions three times a week. Most of the 362 pupils play a string instrument and enjoy weekly group instrumental lessons and orchestra sessions; everyone sings in an age banded choir.

All of the children enjoy giving regular performances to family and friends and they have all had the opportunity to perform at several events with the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North; initiatives which helped parental engagement with the school rise from 7%-39% in 2013.

Andy Gamble, Executive Headteacher at Windmill Primary School in Belle Isle, Leeds said:

I am delighted with these results, which prove that the In Harmony Opera North programme at Windmill Primary School continues to go from strength to strength. We have observed many significant effects on the pupils’ skills such as teamwork, co-operation, social skills and self-confidence. It is my belief that the cultural enrichment provided by In Harmony Opera North over the last three years has had a direct impact on the positive learning culture here at Windmill and subsequently contributed towards these improved results for our children.”

Helen Miller, Headteacher at Bude Park Primary School in Bransholme, Hull, said:

The benefits of a rich musical curriculum have been well-documented and these results are already speaking volumes about the value of the arts and music in the classroom.  In addition, by offering our children frequent performance opportunities with professional musicians from Opera North both within their local community and across Hull we have been able to increase the children’s levels of confidence and self-worth.

“Parents are also developing real pride in their children’s increased abilities, and they acknowledge that the opportunities that their children are being offered is broadening the horizons and expectations for what they can achieve. We anticipate that as our partnership with Opera North continues, this confidence will enable our children to become more resilient, creative, successful learners who are able to manage their feelings, have empathy for others, and develop their personal identity.”