Chorus of approval as singing programme boosts literacy skills

8th July 2011 at 01:00
Popular CanSing initiative wins funding for another year

A unique school singing initiative has been given the go-ahead for another year after a report found it helped improve the confidence of teachers and the literacy skills of pupils.

The innovative CanSing programme was launched in 2009 after evidence showed that teachers lacked confidence teaching singing in the classroom, leading to a reduction in pupil take-up and a decline in standards.

A recent independent evaluation by the People and Work Unit said CanSing was well-received by schools and had proved "popular and effective" with both teachers and pupils.

Schools reported that a number of the programme's free resources and activities had helped boost pupils' literacy and language skills.

The activities included diction exercises and interactive karaoke-style videos that helped pupils learn to construct words by following song lyrics on a screen.

Project manager Suzanne Barnes said: "Improving literacy wasn't our primary aim but teachers have told us it has had a huge impact. We are delighted that this has added value that we hadn't expected."

The report said the programme succeeded in engaging boys, who are often reluctant to take part, as well as pupils with special educational needs.

It also helped improve the confidence and motivation of both teachers and pupils, and in a survey 90 per cent of teachers said they were more confident delivering singing activities as a result.

Education minister Leighton Andrews said he was pleased the programme was having such a positive impact.

"Improving literacy skills is one of my main priorities, so I am encouraged by findings which show the scheme is improving literacy levels in participants," he said.

"An important part of the educational experience is gaining confidence. Through the CanSing programme we hope to motivate and involve children and the wider community with school life and enhance their experience."

Run by community schools charity ContinYou Cymru, the programme aims to re-establish a tradition of singing in schools and help restore Wales's reputation as the "land of song".

It has worked with more than 500 primary and secondary schools in all 22 local authorities to promote singing, both in and out of lessons, as well as to aid pupil transition from primary to secondary school.

Today the Welsh Government announced it would provide #163;165,000 funding to allow the programme to continue for another year.

The initiative has won plaudits from singers and musicians including opera star Bryn Terfel.

Ms Barnes said CanSing has been "hugely successful", with the experiences leaving a lasting impression on pupils and teachers.

"We are delighted that the minister has recognised the achievements of CanSing to date and has agreed to support the programme into the next academic year.

"We recently celebrated National CanSing Day and were overwhelmed by the praise the programme has received.

"We will continue to gather evidence of its success and use this to help secure a more stable long-term future."

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