Friday, November 25, 2011

My thoughts on National Plan for Music Education

After interminable delays the government have finally published "A National Plan for Music Education"

Having read it through these are my concerns.

1) Whilst it is brilliant to read that every school MUST provide good quality music lessons, plus choir & ensembles, for ALL pupils it is followed by the rider - 'subject to the national curriculum review' which is widely expected to ditch music along with many other creative subjects. Without music on the national curriculum or part of the EBAC league what pressure is there on heads to ensure music is taught? Sadly most of this national plan will be largely irrelevant unless schools have to provide music education for all children.

2) Currently music education receives £82.5 million a year. This will be cut to £60million over 3 years @Markdavyd has pointed out that this 27% cut in funding might not be compatible with the great aspirations the plan has. There is some reference to funding formula weighted to free school meal areas. That sounds very promising.

3) Fantastic to see music education for teachers has been adressed. Proper training for class teachers in primary schools is long overdue.

4) Delighted to see music technology highlighted. It would be great to see much more collaboration between ICT leaders and music teachers at school.

5) Development of music hubs. My interest in this plan is from a teacher and parent perspective so have no particular axe to grind about providers. However we have an excellent local authority partnership group - Merton Music Foundation that works brilliantly. My question is is this promotion of "hubs" a chance to kick out local authorities in favour of private companies? This government do have a track record of trampling on public schemes in favour of private companies so I am naturally suspicious. Having waded through the report the hub idea and the application process sounds horrendously bureaucratic and wasteful. The paperwork alone will eat up tons of money.

Look, it's not rocket science. All schools need to ensure they provide good quality music lesson for all their children regardless of race, colour, creed, ability. To do that they need trained staff, resources, support from ICT colleagues and senior management. Local authorities need to ensure they enable schools to work together to share expertise and enthusiasm. Areas of poverty and deprivation need twice or three times the funding of wealthy areas. How about we end tax relief on private schools and use this to fund it? I expect it would be enough to fund private tuition for every state pupil in the country!

I am no expert but from my view music education is incredibly patchy. There is lots of great stuff in this report but I know the devil will be in the detail. I am already sick of the word hub.


Declan said...

interesting thoughts especially about more collaboration between IT dept and music depts- I don't have a lot of experience of music in schools - but am committed to improving the take up rate and retention rate of music, especially the piano. I think some of the more innovative approaches should be considered with a focus achieving quick wins to motivate the students and then develop the skills and utilise peer to peer learning as one of the mechanisms by which we can achieve more outputs from a finite resource. I make no apology for my self interest in this respect - being the founder of - with a mission to transform the way piano is taught in general and to empower teachers who don't currently play piano, to be able to teach piano in their classes the easiest way possible.

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