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Hardship highlights schools benefit from Arts Learning in the Hunter.

Hardship highlights schools benefit from Arts Learning in the Hunter.

This year the guiding principle for The Song Room’s Transformational Learning Through Creativity (TLC) program in the Hunter Valley NSW has been ‘Arts Learning supports students and their communities to flourish’. While many schools in the area have struggled with hardship, those with the TLC program have improved learning and increased connection between leadership, Casual Relief Teachers, and the wider school community.

primary school student in an arts learning music lesson on African drums

2022 has been extremely demanding for many schools dealing with the impact of the pandemic, but for those in the Hunter Valley they have also had to content with the second-worst flood in history. This comes off the back of bushfires in 2020 and floods in 2021. It has been an extraordinarily tough couple of years.

Schools in the area face high rates of leadership and staff changes, teacher and student illness and absenteeism, teacher workforce shortages, and reduced classroom spaces available due to storm damage.

At Song Room schools, our Teaching Artists have been a constant presence for students, teachers and whole-school communities, during a period of change in the learning environment. By working closely with schools, Teaching Artists have tailored professional learning and in-class arts lessons to accommodate the needs of the school.

The upheaval has resulted in the upskilling of whole-school communities within the TLC program. Teachers who would otherwise not be exposed to the program were working alongside Teaching Artists, learning to use creative pedagogies in their own classroom. Principals and relief teachers who stepped into Song Room classes where teachers were absent saw and benefited from the program. They learned the value of arts learning to advance student learning, wellbeing and engagement.

The experience has extended the reach of our program at each school and helped set up a sustainable approach to arts learning. At a pivotal period of social and educational change, creating supportive and strong communities of practice has been vital for the connection, learning and wellbeing of the entire school community.