Music Boosts Learning Outcomes for Disadvantaged Schoolchildren

An innovative series of weekly interactive music workshops has been proven to boost learning outcomes for disadvantaged primary schoolchildren, according to research by Services For Education.

Three hundred children in the disadvantaged Birmingham wards of Soho, East Handsworth, Lozells and Shard End participated in Services For Education’s Soundtots programme of music-making and singing for children aged 3-5 years. All had below-average school readiness goals and below-average language development.

Led by Services For Education’s trained practitioners the children – and 20 Early Years staff – engaged in weekly interactive music workshops.  Instruments, toys, puppets, backing-tracks and soundtracks were used to improve the children’s understanding, speaking, listening and attention, encourage creative music-making and build the confidence of nursery teachers in delivering music activities.

The results were transformational:

  • At the start of the programme, 83% of children were below the expected level of understanding of words and instructions. By the end that had fallen to 32%. The percentage at the expected level rose form 15% at the start to 55% at the end.
  • Speech and language development were equally impressive: 11% at the expected level at the start rising to 53% at the end.

Ruth Roberts, head of vocal and classroom support at Services For Education, who supported the delivery and analysis of the programme, is hoping the programme can now be extended to include other areas of the city and potentially, nationwide.

“The results from the programme are truly astounding – we can see tangible data that demonstrates a direct correlation between music and increased learning outcomes. We know this model of delivery works and we want to be able to introduce the programme to wider parts of the city and even nationally,” said Ruth.