Brian J. Caldwell is Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Educational Transformations and Professor Emeritus at the University of Melbourne where he served as Dean of Education from 1998 to 2004. Common Cause in Arts Education is Brian Caldwell’s Keynote Address at the ACT Arts Up Front conference held at the School of Music, Australian National University in Canberra on 23 February 2013.
I am here because my company had the good fortune to be commissioned by the not-for-profit organisation The Song Room (TSR) to evaluate the impact of its arts programs in upper primary schools in highly disadvantaged settings in Western Sydney. I was well-placed to serve as an independent evaluator, with expertise as a researcher and a deep interest and active involvement in education policy analysis. At Educational Transformations, a company I established after retirement as Dean of Education at the University of Melbourne, we secured the services of Dr Tanya Vaughan, a scientist before she became a teacher of science. She is an expert in impact studies. Indeed she served as our Director of Impact Studies before she took up her current appointment as Senior Project Manager at the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). Together we accepted the commission of The Song Room, assisted by Dr Jessica Harris, our Senior Consulting Researcher, who is now at Queensland University of Technology, whose doctoral research was in the field of conversation analysis. The report of our study was launched at Parliament House in Canberra in March 2011 by the Hon Peter Garrett MP, Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. Minister Garrett cited a key finding of the study in his speech just a week or so ago at the National Arts Summit in Canberra.