News & Features

Dramatic SATs results increase at schools working with Opera North


Opera North is celebrating a dramatic increase in academic achievement at two primary schools where Opera North Education delivers large scale Community Residency projects.

Windmill Primary School in Belle Isle, Leeds (In Harmony Opera North), and Bude Park Primary School in Bransholme, Hull (Opera North Singing School) have both seen significant rises of up to 20% in their Key Stage 2 SATS results this year.

As part of the Opera North programmes, both primary schools allocate up to 3 hours of musical delivery within curriculum time every week for every child, with children taking part in up to 7.5 hours of musical delivery each week overall. Leaders at the two schools strongly believe that the music programmes enhance both personal and academic development.

At Windmill Primary School, 2015 results in Key Stage 2 SATS exams, taken by 10 and 11 year olds, have increased the percentage of children attaining a Level 4 in Reading from 78% in 2014 to 98.7% in 2015.

In Writing, 86.7% achieved Level 4 or above, up from 75.6%, while the results in Maths increased from 73.2% to 93.3% of children attaining Level 4 or above.

In Harmony Opera North began in Windmill Primary School in the Belle Isle area of South Leeds, in January 2013. Every child in the school participates in up to 3 hours musical activity per week during curriculum time and many children attend Opera North ‘After School’ music sessions three times a week.

Most of the 362 pupils play a string instrument and enjoy weekly group instrumental lessons and orchestra sessions; everyone sings in an age banded choir. All of the children enjoy giving regular performances to family and friends and they have all had the opportunity to perform at several events with the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North; initiatives which helped parental engagement with the school rise from 7%-39% in 2013.

In Harmony Opera North’s sister project, Opera North Singing School, is based in Bude Park Primary School, Bransholme, Hull, where the programme has been running for one year. Since September 2014 children at the school have received up to 3 hours a week of singing and performing arts sessions related to opera and, like In Harmony Opera North, have had regular performance opportunities; some of these have been with members of the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North. 

After the first year of delivery of the Opera North Singing School, the school’s Key Stage 2 SATs results have increased the percentage of children attaining a Level 4 in Reading from 80% in 2014 to 96% in 2015. Lower down the school in Key Stage 1 the school’s SATS results have increased from 81% in Mathematics in 2014 to 96% in 2015.

Photos of In Harmony Opera North by Tom Arber.

Video about Opera North Singing School by Nova Studios, with thanks to major supporter William Jackson Food Group. 

What you say

Comment from Richard Brinton


Richard Brinton said ago

Very inspiring. Just goes to show how necessary the arts are in education for the children's well-being. With the well-being of English children being at the bottom of tables, the government with their one-sided emphasis on science, english and maths, would do well to listen. The Turnaround Arts programme in the USA is another example of similar results: arts increasing children's joy for education and life.

Comment from A Travis


A Travis said ago

Congratulations to all involved in this project. Great achievements by the pupils - brilliant. Let's keep liking and sharing to make more people aware of what music and the arts can do.

Comment from Margot Collingbourn-Beevers


Margot Collingbourn-Beevers said ago

Absolutely wonderful And Primary School is the perfect way to start experiencing - and gaining - a love for, and involvement with, music. Every Primary school in the UK needs this approach - it could ultimately add an extra dimension to life for the entire population.

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