A feasibility study of a school-based music and social and emotional learning programme for children aged 4-5

  • Conneth Poland

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Within the literature, studies report on music education programmes and their various benefits for school aged participants. However, most do not measure musical leaming of young children from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Additionally, operationalisation of a musical outcome that has been co-designed through collaboration with a symphony orchestra are uncommon. This study was designed through participatory research between multiple stakeholders, to create a pilot primary school music education and social and emotional learning programme. This was the first such programme in Northern Ireland that was based on the 'El Sistema’ model. lt was integrated into the curricular provision i1 four primary schools in socio-economically challenged areas of West Belfast, in post conflict Northern Ireland. The El Sistema orchestral model is adopted throughout the world and provision occurs in neighbouring nations, but empirical evidence based on a standardized intervention, with clearly defined components and a process evaluation is needed. The aim of this research was to design a pilot, monitor implementation and measure outcomes in an iterative process that informs a clearly deliverable, empirically tested programme, theoretically guided by a logic model. A mixed methodology was used to gather data on outcomes and implementation factors and their interaction with pre-post on outcomes. The participants were 145 P1 primary school pupils (Mean age 4), in seven classes from four schools. Five outcomes were measured at baseline and post programme delivery and data on four implementation factors were also monitored, measured and analysed for their relationship to outcomes. Qualitative data were gathered from principals, teachers, Ulster Orchestra programme staff (managers and implementers), plus parents and pupils to interrogate quantitative findings in a quan-qual mixed methodology.

Thesis embargoes until 31 July 2025.
Date of AwardJul 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorJennifer Roberts (Supervisor), Sarah Miller (Supervisor) & Liam O'Hare (Supervisor)

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