Opening of the Major Performing Arts Companies' Arts in Education Forum
- Minister for School Education
- Minister for Early Childhood and Youth
It’s a pleasure to join you here in Brisbane and launch the Arts in Education Forum.
I applaud and encourage the important and essential links you are making from the arts to education, and from education back to the arts.
Arts and education: a perfect fit.
I share what I believe is our common goal, namely, to have a community in which the arts thrive and our schools offer every student a well-rounded education.
Several months ago, I announced substantial funding for major arts organizations, to share expertise in developing the creative talents of young people and to support professional development for teachers.
- Music: Count Us In;
- Bell Shakespeare—a member of AMPAG;
- The Song Room; and
- The Australian Children’s Music Foundation
All will receive additional funding to deliver programs to invigorate students’ learning in the arts, drama and music.
In particular, to provide support to those school students and teachers who may not have the opportunity to engage in the arts, such as disadvantaged students, or students and teachers in regional communities.
We are also encouraging close cooperation between the arts and education sectors through the development of the Australian Curriculum.
I have been especially focused on ensuring all Australian school students have access to an arts-rich education, including the visual arts, music, drama, dance and media arts.
I advocated for the inclusion of an arts curriculum when I was Minister for the Arts and so it’s good to be able to see that through in my current role.
I believe the new Arts Curriculum provides an unprecedented opportunity to embed best practice arts education in our schools and draw on the rich expertise across Australia of arts educators and, where possible, arts practitioners.
I acknowledge the substantial contributions from AMPAG members in the development of the Arts curriculum.
And I am pleased to announce that the draft Arts curriculum has been released for consultation today.
I look forward to your further contributions to the curriculum now that it is available for comment.
There’s increasing research evidence to show that arts education is a strong contributor in improving school attendance, academic achievement and student wellbeing.
We can categorise a range of benefits that come with an arts rich education, including; the development of learning skills and learning how to learn, with improved academic performance especially for students from low socio-economic backgrounds.
The arts help us to define and express who we are and so an appreciation of the arts is an important part of living in our society and participating fully in the community.
And for young people, they can be a powerful form of self-expression that can help them to share experiences and emotions with others.
Participation in the arts can help young people to move through difficult periods in their lives and explore challenging personal issues in a non confronting way.
And of course at the intersection of creativity and culture, the arts help us to share culture’s richness, ideas and emotions with others.
And while all the arts are important, I think you’ll be aware of the special affection I have for music and music education.
There is mounting, exciting evidence of the positive effect of music on those who study it.
The Song Room’s National Research Project, with 10 schools in disadvantaged areas of NSW, showed increases in self-esteem, student engagement and increased classroom participation.
Students in those schools showed improved grades in their academic subjects as well as achieving higher results in reading and overall literacy.
There was improved school attendance with 65 per cent less absenteeism in comparison to those that did not participate.
As well, students were more likely to be at the top two levels of the Social-Emotional Wellbeing Index in respect of the indicators of resilience, positive social skills, positive work management and engagement skills.
These results are a clarion call to educators of the shared benefits of regular involvement, in this case in music, which happens when we actively and in a concentrated way embed arts practice in education.
One final point is to recognise the value of what is broadly termed the creative industries in Australia. They compare well to other industries often in the spotlight.
So it’s vital that we give opportunities to all Australian children to study quality arts subjects at school to participate in meaningful, deep artistic experiences.
This goal of a rich artistic experience is a shared responsibility across all governments and the arts community.
It can come, for example, from schools working in partnership with performing artists to improve the in-school music experience.
It can come from the way in which teachers utilise the digital resources of the national curriculum to excite their students.
But, those with the greatest influence on the quality of the arts experience in schools in the future, are the States themselves.
It will be the State and Territory Education Ministers that will endorse and then implement the finalised Australian Arts Curriculum.
And it will be the State and Territory Education Ministers who will facilitate the teacher training and provide the necessary support for the arts curriculum so that the benefits of experiencing and learning the arts will flow into schools right across the nation.
So I would urge the arts community, be actively involved in persuading your State and Territory Education Ministers to play their part in making a comprehensive arts education a reality for all Australia students.
I congratulate AMPAG for convening this forum which is simply a good initiative for further sharing the artistic excellence of our major performing arts companies through education.
I’m delighted to declare the forum open and wish you well in your discussions today and tomorrow.