What did we set out to discover?
Our five schools share a common desire to engage with and in innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Our previous work has enabled us to explore this within the context of drama and through the more ready use of digital technologies in our drama classrooms, and so this research project was conceived to enable the sharing and development of innovative practice in and between two further cultural education subject areas. Similarly, we have benefited from, and will continue to benefit from, engagement in a Europe-wide conversation about what constitutes the most effective pedagogical approaches in cultural education, and conceived of this project to allow this exploration to take place with music and English language.
There is an increasing focus in our individual environments on school-to-school improvement support, and this project has supported the five schools to explore each other's development of excellence in the teaching of music and English language so that current and future students benefit from these approaches, achieving academic and socio-cultural success that will enable them to pursue their interests post- their secondary education. Evidence suggests that improvements driven by schools directly are the most long-lasting and impactful; this approach is at the core of our research, and so we expect the outcomes to influence practice in and beyond our schools long after the funding ends. The involvement, additionally, of external cultural education practitioners in the non-formal sector has also allowed us to identify practices used in non-formal settings that may have a positive impact on our work in schools.
We are also acutely aware of the increasing difficulties in training, recruiting and retaining excellent staff, particularly teachers, and this project has worked towards overcoming that in these specific subject areas, and has also suggested approaches that may be adopted by teachers and educators of other subjects in our schools and beyond.
Our students deserve the very best teaching in their music and English language lessons, and this project's aim has been to understand what the ‘best’ involves and then to use that in our own schools, while sharing with other schools across the continent.