There has been renewed scrutiny in recent weeks about spending on private school capital works. Alongside science labs, sporting fields, and “wellbeing spaces”, many of Australia’s richest schools feature elaborate performing arts centres.
Melbourne’s Wesley College’s redevelopment, for example, includes a $21 million music school and $2.3 million visual arts and design precinct. Meanwhile, programs for disadvantaged students who show artistic talent have relied on volunteers and small grants.
Usually comparisons between public and private schooling focus on academic or sporting outcomes – but what of creative education?
Increased engagement in arts education has wide ranging benefits for academic and social outcomes – and those most at risk have the most to gain. Research has long shown the arts offer many benefits beyond “art for arts sake”, with health, social and economic benefits which offer both private and public value.
Confidence gained from arts programs, and their capacity to support healthy risk taking improves academic outcomes and student behaviour. For teachers, the arts can be a way of connecting to children who struggle with conventional approaches.
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