JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
THE ARTS—HELPING STUDENTS TO EMBRACE LEARNING
August 12, 2004
School-based arts programmes can play an important role in encouraging students to embrace learning and prompting Indigenous students to spend more time at school, a new study has found.
Released today by the Minister for Education, Science and Training, Dr Brendan Nelson, and the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, the Evaluation of School-based Arts Education Programmes in Australian Schools shows participation in the arts has a positive impact on students' engagement with learning and helps to build students' confidence and team-work skills.
Comprising a literature review and an evaluation of two drama programmes (Youth Arts with an Edge in Victoria and Arts at Direk in South Australia) and two music programmes (Boys' Business and the Indigenous Music Education Programme in the Northern Territory), the study particularly focused on how participation in the arts at school impacts on Indigenous and disadvantaged students.
The study found that the programmes help students feel more confident about the contribution they can make in the classroom which in turn helped them feel more positive about themselves.
"I encourage the education community to consider these findings. The ability of arts programmes to provide positive learning experiences for students who face major learning challenges is a particularly valuable lesson to be embraced," said Dr Nelson.
"I am delighted to note that the music programme in the Northern Territory is seen as bridging some cultural barriers in the community."
The study was conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) on behalf of the Department of Education, Science and Training, the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts and the Australia Council for the Arts. It complements other research projects focusing on arts education.
The Australian Children and the Arts research programme being undertaken by the University of Tasmania and the four studies supported through the Australia Council's Education and the Arts Partnership Initiative are other examples of work being carried out in this important area of learning.
These projects and the ACER study will lead to a greater understanding of the benefits of learning in and through the arts.
"The inherent value of education in the arts has never been in question. But the potential of the arts to engage students in learning more broadly-particularly those who are not otherwise being reached-is an opportunity which demands attention," said Senator Coonan.
"I welcome this study as it will play an important role in enhancing arts education in Australian schools and help shape future activities in this area."
The programmes offer students a unique opportunity to experience 'real-life' activities - such as collaborating with their peers in public presentations - which developed their creative talents and helped them work as part of a team.
In several cases the arts programme provided an environment in which it was safe for both students and teachers to take risks helping them develop initiative and creativity.
The study also found that the arts can provide:
- particularly helpful ways to express and explore emotion;
- an opportunity for reflection and constructive criticism; and
- learning opportunities for students who do not fit the conventional mould of institutional learning.
The ACER report can be accessed at http://www.dest.gov.au/schools/publications/2004/index.htm
For further information: Dr Nelson's Office: Ross Hampton 0419 484 095
Senator Coonan's Office: Jane McMillan 0438 690 305
Dept of Education, Science & Training: Virginia Cook 0412 971 323
Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 Australia