An educational program is bringing specialist art and music lessons to generalist classrooms and possibly having a greater effect than planned.

The ARTS:LIVE initiative was launched just this month but already is reporting positive outcomes, as it attempts to stimulate students’ creative faculties in schools that don’t offer such specialised learning.

A quality education in arts and music produced improved academic outcomes for students in disadvantaged schools in western Sydney, according to the 2011 report, Bridging the Gap in School Achievement through the Arts, conducted for not-for-profit group The Song Room by researchers led by Professor Brian Caldwell, the managing director of Educational Transformations and a former Dean of Education at the University of Melbourne.

Professor Caldwell says too many students were denied access to arts and music classes taught by specialist teachers, ''The evidence here and in other countries is this unrelenting pursuit of improving literacy and numeracy scores just through testing and focusing on that aspect of the curriculum to the detriment of the arts has not worked”.

Experts have said arts are often sidelined in an attempt to improve literacy and numeracy. Academic and now real-life evidence suggests a more rounded approach can be most beneficial.