Home' Teacher : April 2010 Contents 18 TEACHER APRIL 2010
16-year olds and a homework program for
students in Years 10 to 12.
The curriculum for the schools program
focuses on place, community, and healthy
and sustainable living. Students learn
about the impact people have made on the
environment, including changes to water-
ways, swamps, green spaces and transport,
over the past 200 years in the area around
Arden St, which is home to the North Mel-
bourne Football Club. Students also learn
about community through oral storytelling
and a community guests program highlight-
ing diversity of language, cultural back-
ground and careers.
Local schools have been invited to take
part in programs over one or two days at
the Learning and Life Centre from second
term, and the response has been overwhelm-
'The North Melbourne Football Club is
creating opportunities for the local com-
munity which are multicultural in nature,'
explains Education Programs Coordinator
Mairead Hannan. 'The communitybenefits
from this initiative in a myriad of ways --
and the response of the schools shows just
how much interest and need there is out
The Song Room
There's plenty of international research
that shows that children who learn music
and arts have improved educational, social
and personal outcomes, yet in Australia,
according to research conducted by the
University of Melbourne, only 23 per cent
of govern ment primary schools have a
specialist music teacher. In practice, this
means that something like 700,000 Aus-
tralian students have no formal, sequential
music education at school. Unfortunately,
it's often the students most in need of the
positive benefits of creative a rts education
that are missing out.
The Song Room is a national organisation
that provides opportunities for enhanced
learning and development through music
and creative arts for disadvantaged children
who wouldn't otherwise have such opportu-
nities. The Song Room's long-term, free and
tailored programs have so far reached more
than 200,000 children.
According to Caroline Aebersold, the
chief executive of the Song Room, the nature
of the Song Room program has changed
radically from its initial format.
'Originally, the Song Room focused on
giving children experiences of music and
creative arts performance as an inspiration
for them and their schools to follow up on,'
explains Aebersold. 'Following extensive
evaluation of the programs, we realised
that in most cases there were no follow-up
opportunities for these children. The biggest
gap was the lack of provision of any ongoing
access to music and creative arts.'
In 2005, Aebersold successfully refor-
matted the Song Room program, moving
away from one- off performances to con-
centrate instead on long-term, tailored,
in-school programs, where teaching artists
with skills in a particular art form work for
at least six months with a number of classes
and teachers in a school. The teaching art-
ists are able to deliver an ongoing, sequen-
tial music and creative arts program for the
children while at the same time working in
a professional development capacity with
teachers and the school to develop teacher
skills and school resources, and ensure long-
term sustainability in the school.
'We're currently in the second phase
of a major, independent research study to
analyse the impacts of the program in a
range of specific contexts and to help us
improve our own ongoing evaluation proc-
ess,' Aebersold explains. 'It's essential that
we continue to refine and improve the pro-
gram to ensure that it has the biggest posi-
tive impact on the children and communi-
ties we work with.'
Something will turn up
In some ways, Wilkins Micawber's hope
that 'something will turn up' describes both
the internal workings of not-for-profits and
the way they're perceived by the schools in
which they work. Of cou rse, the reality is
that, rather than just turning up, the work
they do and the professional support they
provide is the result of the extraordinary
imagination and energy of the people who
run them, the community that supports
them and the reliability of the sou rces of
funding that sustain them.
Compared to the profits of our big cor-
porations or the budgets of major national
education initiatives, the funds needed
for not-for-profits to do their work might
look small, but as the Micawber Principle
implies, there can be great good in a small
positive margin: result happiness.
At the end of David Copperfield,
Micawber makes a fresh start in Australia
as a magistrate and the manager of the Port
Middlebay Bank. I wonder if pioneering
philanthropist, educationalist and Sydney
Public Free Grammar School governor,
Mary Reibey, pictured on the $20 note, ever
had reason to visit him?
Ralph Saubern is Learning and
Development Man ager for the Song
Room. He is currently on leave
from the Au stralian Council for
Educational Research where he wa s
General Manager of ACER Press from
2006 to 2009.
Catherine Brown's new book, Great
Fou ndations, will be published by ACER
Press in 2010.
Productivity Commission . (2010).
Contribution of the Not-for-Profit Sector.
Canbe rra: Australian Gove rnment
Publishing Ser vice. Available at www.
Dickens, C. (1849). David Coppe rfield.
London: Bradbury & Evans.
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