Arts add a string to children's bows

17th November 2000 at 00:00
Involving children in arts projects boosts their academic achievement and social skills, as well as their self-esteem and confidence. Heads from the 15 primary schools in a survey said that working with outside artists and arts organisations had "unlocked children's natural creativity".

The process also required them to think for themselves, to develop their own ideas and to express them in public. Children were more prepared to take on new challenges as a result. They also appeared to be more able to concentrate and co-operate with others.

Most surprising, however, was the impact on the teaching staff. Although the idea of working with artists from outside the school had made some teachers feel nervous or threatened, successful projects encouraged thm to adapt the new approaches and techniques within their own classrooms. They also had an opportunity to see their pupils responding to new ways of doing things and to the high expectations the artists had of them.

While all the headteachers in the survey said the projects had benefited everyone involved, they had trouble finding both the money to pay for outside artists and space in the timetable. They felt the Government placed a low status on arts in the curriculum and some said parents did too; some were more concerned with "league table factors" than with what they saw as optional extras.

Arts Projects in Primary Schools: Their Value Discussed by Headteachers by Alan Hedges for Children's Music Workshop, 1 Ripplevale Grove, London N1

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