Thursday 23 June 2016


Major new partnership to explore language learning through the arts in south west Wales

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation has awarded a grant to the British Council Wales, which will work in partnership with BBC National Orchestra of Wales, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, and Ein Rhanbarth ar Waith (ERW) to pilot new approaches to music and language learning.

This one-year, £111,000 grant will enable the consortium to support ten primary schools in Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion to explore how music-based approaches can enhance the teaching of  languages with sound-based components such as rhyme, repetition and rhythm. The project, which begins in September 2016, aims to help strengthen links between Wales and Patagonia, following the 150th Anniversary, by working through the medium of Welsh, English and Spanish. The consortium will also explore how arts-based learning can support children to make a positive transition from primary to secondary school.

The pilot is part of Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s £1m Teacher Development Fund, a UK-wide initiative to enable teaching professionals to access high quality, sustained professional development and support effective arts-based practices in the primary classroom. Seven pilot projects will work with over 70 schools across all four UK nations. 

Moira Sinclair, Chief Executive at Paul Hamlyn Foundation said: ‘We believe that the arts have an important role to play in enriching young people’s learning and educational experiences and in improving their life chances. Research has shown that teachers sometimes lack the knowledge, confidence and skills to deliver effective learning in and through the arts. That’s why we launched the Teacher Development Fund because we want to support teaching professionals to reach their potential and inspire their pupils to enjoy fulfilling and creative lives.’

Rebecca Gould, Head of Arts at British Council Wales, said: ‘Arts-based learning can disrupt conventional learning patterns and inequalities. We believe – and are hoping to evidence – that arts-based approaches can provide powerful support for children from disadvantaged backgrounds as they prepare for secondary school.

‘The innovative approaches we are piloting will contribute to current dialogue about language teaching in Wales. With the new curriculum under development this is particularly timely, and we hope an opportunity to make a longer term impact in this area.’

The British Council, BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW) and University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) first worked together in 2015 as part of Patagonia 150, a celebration of the unique linguistic and cultural relationship between Wales and Patagonia in Argentina.

Professor Mererid Hopwood, from UWTSD said: 'This project has been designed to explore ways of promoting the aspirations set out in key national education policies that see Wales becoming a nation of bi-and multi-lingual speakers. Working through the music of language the project aims to inspire positive attitudes towards language acquisition in the primary sector.'

Suzanne Hay, Head of Partnerships and Learning at BBC NOW, said: ‘As part of the Orchestra’s tour to South America last year, we saw the positive impact that learning and conversing through music had on schools in Patagonia – for pupils and teachers alike.

Language, akin to music, moves rhythmically and melodically, and through this pilot we aim to draw on these parallels to develop pioneering teaching methods and in turn, aid professional development.’ 

Betsan O’Connor, Managing Director of ERW, said: ‘This is a unique and innovative project, which allows us to develop relationships with new as well as existing partners. It is an excellent opportunity for pupils in ERW to reap the benefits of language learning through music, and I hope to see this model rolling out to other schools next year.’

Learning from the Wales and wider UK pilots will be published in Summer 2017.


Notes to Editor

British Council Wales and the project

British Council Wales exists to promote collaboration between UK artists and educators and their global and local peers. It will provide overall coordination for the pilot, supporting partners to get most value from working together and to engage effectively with the wider UK pilot evaluation. It will also facilitate contact between schools in Wales and Patagonia, the other extensive Welsh-speaking community in the world.

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW) is one of the UK’s most versatile orchestras, with a varied range of work as a broadcast orchestra, the national symphony orchestra of Wales and as one of the BBC's six Performing Groups. Its work with schools creates opportunities for thousands of children across Wales to make music alongside its professional musicians. BBC NOW will work with partner schools, supporting teaching staff and helping to coordinate activities. It will also play a lead role in co-developing creative learning content and resources.

University of Wales Trinity Saint David

University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) School of Education and Communities delivers bespoke CPLD for teachers, from students through to leadership level. It works with over 400 schools across Mid, West and South Wales, and is developing research expertise in Languages and the Expressive Arts. UWTSD brings tested tools and resources to support teacher enquiry, expert input into evaluation design and implementation, and specialism in the teaching and learning of languages. It will play a lead role in co-developing creative learning content and resources.


ERW (Education through Regional Working) is an alliance of six local authorities across South West and Central Wales, with an agreed regional strategy and business plan for school improvement. It manages a highly engaged network of teachers and school leaders. ERW will lead school recruitment, and provide language learning and CPDL expertise.

Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Paul Hamlyn Foundation was established by Paul Hamlyn in 1987. Upon his death in 2001, he left most of his estate to the Foundation, creating one of the largest independent grant-making foundations in the UK. 

Our mission is to help people overcome disadvantage and lack of opportunity, so that they can realise their potential and enjoy fulfilling and creative lives. We have a particular interest in supporting young people and a strong belief in the importance of the arts in helping us address this mission.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide. 

We work in more than 100 countries and our 8,000 staff – including 2000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the Arts and delivering education and society programmes.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publically-funded grant-in-aid provides less than 20 per cent of our turnover which last year was £864m. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally.

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