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Article Title

Hard to believe : arts education and disadvantaged students

Abstract

In the first of three articles, the author profiles the work of The Song Room, an innovative not-for-profit organisation that is bringing free, tailored music and creative arts education programs to schools with disadvantaged student populations throughout Australia. Examples of how the program has impacted on specific schools are included, for example at Sacred Heart School in Melbourne's Fitzroy which has a number of large public housing estates, and at Heatherhill Primary School in Melbourne's south-east where 74 per cent of the students are from non-English speaking backgrounds. The Song Room is also involved in programs at Western English Language Service, a Victorian government school providing English as a second language programs across seven campuses in Melbourne's west. Half the WELS students are refugee children and the rest are children of migrants. Aims of The Song Room are to target disadvantage with participation in arts education, which research has shown has a positive impact on social outcomes such as classroom engagement, confidence, school retention rates, and educational outcomes such as numeracy, literacy and cross-disciplinary skills. Importantly, the research also shows that creative arts education can improve engagement and outcomes for the most disadvantaged, with both intrinsic and extrinsic benefits. [Author abstract, ed]

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