A school in Bradford, UK has recently performed one of the biggest U-turns in primary school history by coming from a state of ‘Special Measures’ and into a the top half of performing schools in Britain. How? An extra six hours a week of music for every child.
Stick it to the man.
Most schools are advised to drop the creative subjects in favour of focussing on the reading and writing grades schools are measured against. Especially if, like in this case, almost all of the students do not speak English as a first language. Many people would argue that music is less important and we should be focussing time and effort into the STEM subjects. The reality is that most children enjoy their music lessons more than their maths lessons. It allows expression and creativity. The kind of expression and creativity which helps them with communication and problem-solving skills. It also creates a more dynamic learning environment and encourages children to attend school because they enjoy it and want to better themselves. Not to mention, the benefits of having a positive and supportive team of teachers around. Anyone who has had to battle through negative OFSTED inspections can understand the difficulties and pressures it can add to an already challenging profession. Having a focussed and hardworking Head is crucial in this moment. Taking a risk by focussing efforts on a subject like Music should be applauded. Especially when the results are so positive: not only did the morale increase within the school, but so did the reading and writing grades.
This is a perfect example of the Waldorf philosophy of education. Blurring the barriers between ‘intellectual’ and ‘practical’ is the best way to produce well-rounded and happy individuals. The results speak for themselves. I believe that more bold strategies need to be put in place to integrate these ideas and share some of the ideas that this headteacher implemented in his classroom. I would personally love to see how this headteacher tackled the problems of his school in a more detailed way. Stories like these always seem a bit ‘Hollywood’ – nice and uplifting, but a bit unrealistic and far-fetched. It would be great to see more teachers and headteachers ganging the confidence to step out of their comfort zones, question the typical approaches to these issues, and promote creativity and expression in the classroom.