COMMONS

Education Committee web forum: Music Education

The Education Committee invites views on the strength of the evidence in relation to the current policy and the evidence on trends in participation in music education and quality.

Thank you for all comments submitted to the ‘Evidence Check’ forum. The forum is now closed. Comments received will help the Committee evaluate the evidence received from the Department for Education.

The Committee will use the comments to select topics for one-off oral evidence sessions in early 2015.

Evidence

Please read the Department's evidence on music education:

Image: iStockphoto

18 Responses to Music Education

Ian Burton says:
November 28, 2014 at 04:57 PM
The DfE 'Evidence Check' memorandum for Music Education seems an accurate summary of what has happened over the last few years. However, in its brevity, it perhaps fails to make the point of how much impact dedicated support for music education from the last two governments has had on the sector.


In 2002, the first national music survey showed only 641 young people were engaging with learning an instrument in Nottingham City - just over 1% of the school population, and representing fewer than 15% of city schools. More than a third of those learning were from just one school.


In the 2014 national music data return for Nottingham, 8764 young people are engaging in music (a 1,267% increase, and equivalent to 20% of the city school population) and 89% of primary schools ensure all young people get to learn an instrument free of charge. This transformation has been driven by the Whole Class Ensemble Teaching (WCET) programme supported, in the last two years, by the In Harmony project.


In 2013 the BBC described Nottingham as 'Britain's Poorest City' (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22623964). As such, this is not an easy region for traditional approaches to succeed. However, the profile of young people learning an instrument in Nottingham in 2014 now matches very closely to the overall city profile for ethnicity, children on free school meals, and those registered as having special educational needs. This level of inclusion would not have been achieved without the financial support of successive governments, plus dedication and commitment to inclusive practices from staff and schools.


Good progress has been made, but there is still much to do. For example, supporting affordable progression routes for all is a major challenge, although we have made significant strides through initiatives such as music camp, a post-WCET area band network, medium-large group follow-on, In Harmony programmes and visiting musicians and ensembles. As a result, numbers of young people gaining an ABRSM qualification through the city accreditation strategy has increased by 385% over the last three years. This would not have happened without the DfE financial backing for music hubs, and the support of local hub partners.


The National Plan for Music is not perfect, and Music Hubs do not as yet always function as they would in an ideal world. How could they, only 30 months after their establishment? These initiatives represent major changes and, as with the previous government's music plans, are highly ambitious in their intentions to transform music education into something fully inclusive for all sectors of society.


It seems to me that this will take the best part of a generation to achieve, but the current plans outline a way forward and, with dedication and perseverance from all parties involved, it is an achievable goal.





Ian Burton


CEO, Nottingham Music Service


Lead organisation for Nottingham Music Hub
Andrew Manley says:
November 24, 2014 at 01:54 PM
I am a peripatetic music teacher, and in my opinion the change to self employment and music hubs has made my job economically unviable. The truth is we had a better music system in the 1970's. Back them instead of the money being spent on expensive management in 'hubs', only a couple of administrators ran the music service for the county, with the rest of the money being spent on subsidizing small group instrumental lessons. Far more efficient, and actually delivered at the 'coal face'. Now there is no system or support for peripatetic instrumental teachers. I have largely given up on teaching in schools, and teach privately at home (and am fully booked)! I get calls from primary schools to teach - but it simply isn't worth it. Formerly the local authority would put together primary schools in one area for me to teach on the same day to make it viable. No more, its just word of mouth. No we are on our own - no pension, higher NI contributions, having to pay our own insurance, no job security of any kind, and no career prospects. If music is to be taught in schools there MUST be provision for individual lessons and small groups. Whole classroom teaching simply DOES NOT WORK for many instruments. Instead of the system becoming less 'elitist' the removal of all subsidized small group lessons has made things worse. Either pick up the ball now, or witness a slow decline that will be difficult to reverse. If you want good musicians in the future you need to invest in their teachers, not just in middle management in hubs.
Claire Lumley says:
November 21, 2014 at 03:14 PM
My daughter attended a small LA secondary school and had no music tuition whatsoever in Year 7. Neither were there any links to music hubs or visiting musicians or even any singing in school. In fact - for this whole year (2013-14) music was ignored altogether. I have now moved her to a larger school where music is a major part of the National Curriculum and she is loving it. Schools shouldn't be allowed to get away without teaching music as learning a musical instrument is fundamental to the development of the brain.
Sally-Anne Zimmermann says:
November 20, 2014 at 09:23 AM
From my position of going into schools and visiting private music teachers and working at home with families, alongside assisting a range of bodies in ensuring their work including provision SEND (recently with three major instrumental/theory/vocal grade examination boards for example, along with two music hubs on a regular basis) I would offer the following observations from the point of delivery.

Music for all is still an aspiration rather than a reality. First access - one point which should catch all pupils - is not happening for some (possibly many) pupils with SEND as it is seen as a session where these pupils can be extracted to do something else, or, where it is happening, there is a gap between music tutors' experience of engaging some pupils with SEND in their musical education and in class support staff's awareness of what the sessions are seeking to achieve. Secondly, the impact of Sing Up and encouraging all primary schools to be singing schools has waned: schools convinced of the value of this work have continued it, whilst others have let it slip. SEND and social disadvantage are inextricably linked, sadly, and if pupils with SEND are not caught through statutory provision they are unlikely to attend voluntary activities.

Re secondary music, our service has not received a single query about the new Music Curriculum. We are quite shocked at this, particularly as with almost all blind or partially sighted students the more rigorous section on music notations would be challenging if actually explored.

We have had an increase in enquiries about GCSE and A level accessibility for blind and partially sighted students in mainstream schools which is encouraging. As ever, availability of accessible technology to enable these students realise their musical potential is tricky: we realise RNIB has a large part to play in this and we are working with some major commercial companies.

It has been encouraging to see the high level of interest in Sounds of Intent assessment: a bit ironic as this is not matched by NC interest in assessment for music, I consider. SoI has encouraged non-specialists in particular to consider the musical outcomes of pupils' engagement, rather than immediately consider the secondary benefits as in social, communication, physical and motivational development.

S-A Zimmermann
RNIB Music Adviser
Georgina Hammond says:
November 20, 2014 at 04:50 AM
like many parents discussing musical education is pointless as it is not something we could ever afford for our children with schools charging £15 and upwards for a 30 minute lesson with most instruments aside from recorder. Both my children and I would love if they could learn to play an instrument. I personally believe it teaches and encourages many things outside of the actual music.
Clare Whitehead says:
November 19, 2014 at 10:28 PM
Music education is not secure for the future. My current school has cut A level music from its sixth form offer because it typically attracts low numbers. This now means no A Level course in this part of the county - students have to travel out of area to study at this level.
We have a problem with children continuing to play musical instruments - while many have access at primary level via first access, children view this as something only done at this age, and do not see the progression through to senior/ upper school level. This is often due to both cost and also an 'x factor' approach to music, whereby they want instant gratification and are not prepared or supported to put in the practice in order to achieve a high level of performance.
Hubs can be successful, but are not always, and there is too much variation. The only contact my hub has had with me as a Head of Music is to seek data - the contract offered is not suitable for instrumental teaching in an upper school, and the calibre of staff has been reduced compared to the pre-hub staffing. Little support is offered in terms of ensemble music making suitable for the 11-18 age group in a rural setting.
The local youth orchestra which is most successful is independently run and does not have hub funding - but has just played at the NFMY Schools Prom. Whilst a fabulous organisation, it saddens me that the students involved are predominantly the offspring of local professional and semi professional musicians, and the majority attend private or grammar schools. I can only conclude that we are not offering a suitable pathway for instrumental tuition for the ordinary child who doesn't have musical or rich parents. But yet we are not considered deprived enough to have In Harmony running in this area.
T Stewart says:
November 19, 2014 at 08:54 PM
I have just read the Department for Education –
‘Evidence check’ memorandum- Music education and can see no evidence of any of these changes in my child's high school. Each class has one hour of music instruction per week, any more than that we have to pay for privately. The disadvantaged areas are to get more funding for music in schools but there are countless parents who still cannot afford extra tuition but don't live in these 'disadvantaged' areas. There is only one music teacher in my child's school who has to provide music tuition for every one of it's 640 pupils. There is no provision for any children to learn an instrument in class. The school does not have drama as a subject at all.
Clare Newman says:
November 19, 2014 at 03:56 PM
Out of lesson music lessons are very expensive and in my experience there are 2 groups of children that learn, those that quite affluent and can afford the tuition and those that are able to have the lessons for free. The group in the middle miss out completely.
Also, I know the teacher has to attend a number of schools but there seems no consideration for the general timetable and what subject is being missed during the music lesson.