Call to embed Arts in all curriculum areas

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Wednesday, 12 Jan 2011

For immediate release Wednesday 12 January 2011

As Australia moves towards the implementation of a national curriculum in the Arts, a new review of research, released today by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), calls for the Arts to be embedded in all academic disciplines and fields as a way of cultivating creativity and imagination.

Australian Education Review 58, The Arts and Australian Education: Realising potential by University of Sydney academic Professor Robyn Ewing stresses that the Arts (dance, drama, literature, media arts, music and visual arts) must not be seen as servants to other curriculum areas.

Releasing the review ACER’s chief executive Professor Geoff Masters said the review outlines the potential of the Arts to reshape the way learning is conceived and organised in schools.

The review highlights international research that shows those students whose learning is embedded in the Arts achieve better grades and overall test scores, are less likely to leave school early, rarely report boredom and have more positive self concept than those students who are deprived of arts experiences.

Examples from education and community education programs that embed quality arts processes and experiences demonstrate the potential of the Arts to change the lives of children and young people, particularly those experiencing difficulties.

“Despite the growing body of evidence pointing to educational and wider social benefits of the Arts, to date equitable provision and resourcing of the Arts and monitoring teaching quality in arts education has received insufficient attention in Australia,” Professor Ewing said. “Similarly, provision of quality teacher preparation in the Arts and ongoing professional learning has been almost nonexistent.”

Many successful arts programs have been established by philanthropic groups. Professor Ewing argues that such initiatives should be the province of government through both educational and broader social policy. She calls upon Australian governments to invest in high-quality arts education initiatives as well as high-quality research and evaluation of these initiatives.

According to Professor Ewing achieving the demonstrated educational and social benefits of Arts in education will require a change in thinking by policy makers to ensure that cultivating imagination and creativity become the priorities rather than ‘add-ons’.

“It will be important for policy-makers and those developing the new national curriculum to seriously consider the evidence and stances adopted in this review.”

Robyn Ewing is Professor of Teacher Education and the Arts at the University of Sydney. Her teaching, research, publications and extensive work in schools include the use of drama with literature to enhance students’ English and literacy outcomes.

Australian Education Review number 58, The Arts and Australian Education: Realising potential, by Robyn Ewing with a foreword by John O’Toole, Foundation Chair of Arts Education at the University of Melbourne and currently lead writer for The Australian Curriculum: The Arts is available for download from the ACER website at Print copies can be purchased from ACER Press. Contact customer service on 1800 338 402 or via email on


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