How an English inner-city school used arts to skyrocket educational outcomes

Feversham Primary Academy is a pre-K to middle school in one of the most deprived and densely populated neighborhoods in northern England. The students are mostly first or second generation immigrants, and for 99% of them English is a second language. As recently as 2010 the school received a ‘failing’ designation by their educational watchdog.

An enterprising and energetic headmaster, Naveed Idrees, took over and, in less than five years, transformed the school. According to a recent article in The Guardian, the school is now rated ‘good’ by the same agency. School attendance increased to 98%. The school is now in the top 10% nationally for progress in reading, writing and math.

The secret? Embedding music, drama and art into every aspect of the curriculum, with up to six hours of music a week for every child. This approach is modeled, in part, after the Kodály Method of music education, which uses a child-development approach to introduce music skills, and, through this, to improve perceptual functioning, concept formation, motor skills, and overall academic performance.

Remarkably similar to the educational approach practiced at our Waldorf School of Baltimore.