Big Noise, Big Futures!

A new study conducted by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health has found that children and young people who take part in Big Noise Raploch are more likely to achieve positive post-school outcomes and are more likely to be in employment than those who have not participated in the programme. Sistema Scotland, the charity that runs the Big Noise programmes around Scotland, welcomed the research, which is part of a long-term evaluation of the Big Noise model by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH). 



The report was launched at packed event at Big Noise Raploch in Stirling, where findings were explored through a panel in front of an audience of education professionals and community members. The panel was chaired by Executive Director and interim Controller of Audit Scotland, Antony Clark, and included; Public Health Programme Manager at the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, Chris Harkins; Head of Education at Stirling Council, Bryony Monaghan; CEO of Sistema Scotland, Nicola Killean; and Big Noise Raploch Alumni William and Shihan. Big Noise Raploch participants gave inspirational talks about the positive impact Big Noise has had on their lives and aspirations and guests were also treated to performances by Raploch's Redfires String Orchestra and Rinconada Chamber!




The study examined the educational outcomes of Big Noise attendees in the Raploch area of Stirling when compared to young people who did not take part in Big Noise. It found that almost all Big Noise participants achieved a positive post-school destination (98%) compared with 84% of non-participants of a similar sociodemographic background.


For the purposes of the research, GCPH defined a positive post-school destination as being in employment, further education, higher education, training, or engaged in voluntary work. GCPH also found that the young people who attended Big Noise programmes were more likely to be in employment after leaving school than their counterparts, with 42% of Big Noise attendees in employment as opposed to only 30% of non-attendees.


The report is available in full on our website via this page here.




This report focuses on and demonstrates one of the key impact pathways identified by GCPH in earlier research on Big Noise – that participation boosts engagement with learning and education. There are a further six impact pathways identified by GCPH which have already been captured and evidenced across Big Noise programmes in Raploch, Govanhill (Glasgow), Torry (Aberdeen) and Douglas (Dundee): developing and building life skills, securing emotional wellbeing, building social skills and networks, providing respite and protection for vulnerable participants, developing as a musician and encouraging healthy behaviours.


This most recent study is the fourth conducted by GCPH as part of the organisation’s longterm evaluation of the Big Noise model. Having previously conducted extensive formative evaluation during Big Noise Raploch’s infancy, GCPH have now progressed into the second phase of its evaluation, which will use quantitative analysis of life-course outcomes to assess the long-term impact of Big Noise programmes. 


Previous works of evaluation can be found on our website here.




Chris Harkins, Public Health Programme Manager at the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, said: “Today’s findings are important because they represent our first analysis of long-term outcomes among Big Noise participants. The positive impacts to educational outcomes demonstrated here compliment and reinforce evidence gathered over the past decade as part of this GCPH study. We know already, for example, that Big Noise engages with pupils with greatest needs, and has boosted school attendance. The quality orchestral programme also fosters a supportive and nurturing relationship between Big Noise staff and the pupils involved. As the pupils approach school-leaving age, Big Noise staff have worked intensively, alongside schools to promote positive destinations after school. This has now been borne out in the educational statistics we have analysed. As time goes on the GCPH will examine further life-course health and social outcomes among Big Noise participants. Today’s findings, however, are positive and further show that Big Noise has clear preventative impacts; promoting education, wellbeing, healthy behaviours, positive choices and a range of opportunities across the school years."


Culture Minister Neil Gray said: “I’m delighted to see that Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise programme in Raploch is having such positive outcomes on the futures of the children who participate in it. As well as engaging children in the world of music, the research also shows how Big Noise has an impact on learning, education and employment by encouraging the development of social and life skills and supporting emotional well-being. “Big Noise, which operates in several locations throughout Scotland, underlines the Scottish Governments’ commitment to social change in some of our most deprived communities.”


William Stewart, a former participant at Big Noise Raploch, said; "Joining Big Noise really had a domino effect on my life. Big Noise was the first domino to fall, which lead to playing the cello, and that lead to performing, acting, panto, musical theatre and everything else. If that first domino didn’t fall, nothing else would have. I would never have had that outlet for creative expression, I wouldn’t have had that confidence, and I wouldn’t have gained those transferrable personal skills. I can’t imagine what my life would be like now if I hadn’t been part of the programme from a young age.”


Convener of Stirling Council’s Community Wellbeing and Housing Committee, Cllr Gerry McGarvey said: “These findings are encouraging, showing that the Big Noise programme is contributing to improved educational attainment and helping development outcomes for the young people who have been involved in the initiative over the years. Stirling Council continues to be a proud supporter of Sistema Scotland and the Big Noise programmes in Raploch and Fallin which remain very popular in both communities, increasing family and community pride; sense of history and achievement. For Stirling Council our investment has always been about nurturing and instilling confidence in our children and young people to help them build resilience, knowledge and skills to equip them throughout their lives.”


Nicola Killean, CEO of Sistema Scotland, said: “Sistema Scotland is dedicated to improving lives and helping children and young people realise their potential. We are delighted that this report demonstrates the benefit that Big Noise provides in improving post-school outcomes for our participants. This would not be possible without our long-standing support from and partnership with Stirling Council and the Scottish Government, whose commitment to Big Noise has allowed us to grow, innovate and strengthen the communities we work with.”



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