Arts program closes indigenous gap in one year

Arts program closes indigenous gap in one year. By Justine Ferrari

AN arts program for indigenous primary school students closed the gap with their classmates’ literacy skills in one year and raised parents’ expectations of what their children could achieve.


An independent evaluation of The Song Room found the proportion of indigenous students receiving As or Bs in English also rose significantly and attendance increased markedly, particularly on days the arts programs were run.

The evaluation, conducted by consultants Educational Transformations, looked at a pilot of three related programs by The Song Room in eight urban, regional and remote schools across Queensland, focusing on students in years 3, 4 and 5.

Researcher Tanya Vaughan said three programs were a workshop teaching students music and art, and training their teachers; an early literacy storytelling program for preschool children; and a community program that involved parents and the local indigenous culture in creating artworks.

The programs were trialled as part of a federally funded parental and community engagement project, and Dr Vaughan said the lift in parental expectations of their children a year later was “remarkable” and potentially important, given research has shown it can boost student achievement by the equivalent of a year of schooling.

While urban and remote schools also showed improvements in attendance and academic achievement, Dr Vaughan said the biggest gains were in the regional schools, which ran all three programs and successfully integrated the local culture in the program.

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