Today we’re talking with Jimmy Rotheram, the man behind an incredible success story in the UK school system. Last year Feversham Primary Academy made headlines after transforming from one of the worst-performing schools in the country to well above average, in just a few short years. After being singled out for its unacceptably poor student attendance and academic results in 2010, Feversham now has 98% student attendance and is in the top 1% of schools nationwide for student progress in reading, writing and mathematics.

So why are we talking about this on the Musicality Podcast? Well, it turns out that a large part of their success is attributable to a greatly increased and improved music education programme for all students.

We were so impressed with Jimmy’s story and the results that he and his colleagues at Feversham have managed, so we were excited to have the chance to speak with him. And as you’ll learn in this interview it wasn’t just “adding music” that made the difference. It was a particular kind of music education which focuses on developing the inner musicality of each child – and which can be equally powerful for adults too.

In this conversation we talk about:

  • The specific kind of music education Jimmy adopted for use at Feversham
  • Why this kind of music education was initially a real struggle for Jimmy personally, given his own musical background, and why it’s the exact opposite, a fun and easy experience, for his students
  • Whether it was the kind of music education or the increased amount that produced such amazing results

A couple of things we mention which we should probably explain in case you’re not familiar with the UK system: the “PGCE” qualification is the main teaching degree for UK primary and secondary schools, and “Ofsted” is the official body which evaluates schools in the UK.

This is a really interesting and inspiring story even if you don’t have a particular interest in childhood music education yourself, so whether you’re a parent, a teacher, or just a musician yourself, we know you’ll get a lot out of this one.

Listen to the episode:

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Musical U interviews Jimmy Rotheram on improving academics through music education - and how he implemented his ideas at a poorly-performing school.