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Impact22nd January 2023

Music is not just an ‘add-on’

At Ark Acton in west London, the Ark Music programme sees a reversal of the nationwide decrease in music teaching.

Music is not just an ‘add on’ to our curriculum. It is a wonderful and essential part of life.

Alice Johnstone Head of Music and Extra-Curricular Co-ordinator at Ark Acton

Alice Johnstone, Head of Music and Extra-Curricular Co-Ordinator at Ark Acton Academy, shares why more students at the school are now studying Music GCSE…

“Our GCSE Music numbers increased from 8% of students in 2021 to 12% in 2022, more than double the national average of 5%. Our students feel a real sense of pride to be part of the incredible community of musicians Ark Music has built. Music is now seen by them as a viable and exciting career path which can enrich not just their employability but also their lives. They are excited to take part in school events and invite their friends from other schools to attend.

“Music is not just an ‘add on’ to our curriculum. It is a wonderful and essential part of life, and the study and practice of it is a privilege. I have had parents of pupils cry, hug and thank me, gushing about what the programme has done for their child. We have had pupils who have gone through managed moves completely turn around, and pupils who are shy to speak get up on stage and sing. The decline in teaching music nationally is a great shame for the development of art and artists in the UK and for the mental health, outcomes and development of our young people.

“Having worked in other secondary schools, the real difference with Ark Music is musical excellence within a thriving and diverse community of musicians. Pupils are challenged more than in any other musical programme I have seen, and thanks to the excellent support and drive of the session leaders, they achieve higher. They know their music is taken seriously and valued by those around them, contributing to their self-esteem and a sense of purpose in life. Ark Music is a real asset to our school. Pupils are proud to be a part of it, and students covet places on Ark Music programmes!”

Read more about the Ark Music programme