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Graded Music Exams to be included in League Tables?

Discussion in 'Music' started by florian gassmann, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    I don't think anyone has commented on a rather strange report from the BBC last month:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-14218920
    "Music exams, for example in violin or piano, are to be counted in the [school league] tables for the first time. Exams passed at grade 6 or higher will be included."
    It appears that such passes will count as the equivalent of one GCSE, and a maximum of two such non-GCSEs per pupil will be allowed to count towards the five GCSE passes indicator.
    Does anybody know anything more about this? I haven't been able to find anything beyond the BBC's report.
    There is none of the essential detail I'd expect to see: presumably the pupil will have to have been taught in the school, rather than privately? Does the pupil have to be entered by the school concerned? Will a Grade 6 pass taken before year 10 be counted? If a pupil is taught privately but entered and perhaps coached by the school, will that count? How do exams taken through the Music Services fit into the plan?
    It sounds like another manic Gove plan that has not been thought through. But it certainly bears his stamp - many independent schools (who don't really care about league tables) have GCSE pupils who have passed Grade 6 (some of whom don't necessarily take GCSE music), while I think the proportion in the maintained sector is likely to be very much lower.
    On the other hand, if it is true, this is more encouraging than recent news about Music not being included in the EBacc, and perhaps disappearing from the National Curriculum.
    Any news or any views?
     
  2. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    I don't think anyone has commented on a rather strange report from the BBC last month:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-14218920
    "Music exams, for example in violin or piano, are to be counted in the [school league] tables for the first time. Exams passed at grade 6 or higher will be included."
    It appears that such passes will count as the equivalent of one GCSE, and a maximum of two such non-GCSEs per pupil will be allowed to count towards the five GCSE passes indicator.
    Does anybody know anything more about this? I haven't been able to find anything beyond the BBC's report.
    There is none of the essential detail I'd expect to see: presumably the pupil will have to have been taught in the school, rather than privately? Does the pupil have to be entered by the school concerned? Will a Grade 6 pass taken before year 10 be counted? If a pupil is taught privately but entered and perhaps coached by the school, will that count? How do exams taken through the Music Services fit into the plan?
    It sounds like another manic Gove plan that has not been thought through. But it certainly bears his stamp - many independent schools (who don't really care about league tables) have GCSE pupils who have passed Grade 6 (some of whom don't necessarily take GCSE music), while I think the proportion in the maintained sector is likely to be very much lower.
    On the other hand, if it is true, this is more encouraging than recent news about Music not being included in the EBacc, and perhaps disappearing from the National Curriculum.
    Any news or any views?
     
  3. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    I read about it. It seems like a sop so he can trot it out when challenged over the inevitable squeeze on music in schools."But look, music grades count now" - leaving out the all important information that only grade 6 and above count. Grade 6 is even higher than what's expected for GCSE A* ime.
    FG is right when he points out the lack of detail surrounding this too. In addition to Florian's questions I'd also like to know if it's only the traditional Associated Board grades that will count. What about jazz grades and rock grades?
    http://www.abrsm.org/exams/jazz
    http://www.rockschool.co.uk

     
  4. And Trinity exams. And others.
     
  5. Is it anything to do with recognising them in the same way that anything grade 6 and above qualifies for ucas points?
     
  6. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    UCAS points are for higher education not further education.
     
  7. Yes I know but there was a big change with AB and TG classification bringing them into line with other qualifications. I am surprised that grades 6 and above are being linked to GCSE not A level.
     
  8. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    Given Mr. Gove's previous form, I am not surprised, merely dissapointed.
     
  9. I don't think it's been thought through at all, I agree with Mr B that it's probably some lip service to make up for the squeeze on music. Grades 6-8 (practical) carry with them a range of 25-75 points on the UCAS tariff, (exam boards included are ABRSM, Guildhall, LCMM, Rockschool and Trinity College London Advanced Level music examinations) which is AS/A-Level territory. I don't see how you can then start stating that they are equivalent to GCSE, it makes no sense and the quals aren't comparative in level. A student capable of achieving A* at GCSE is no where near as skilled as a grade 8 instrumentalist - certainly not ABRSM anyway.


    Personally the only positive thing I can see about the lip service is that it could help with pumping some well needed money into instrumental programmes and provision but I think this would come at a serious cost. The last thing peripatetics/music teachers need is for HT's to be breathing down their neck to enter students for exams they simply aren't ready for. I've always despised the instrumental teaching method where students are put through grades back to back, it can produce bad musicians whose repertoire is smaller than Michael Gove's fan club.


    If it does go ahead it would have to only be those students that are entered by/trained by the school. If not it would open up a rather large can of worms. I wonder if they're going to include the 6-8 theory exams as well, they carry UCAS points.


    Florian, I'd also been looking for more info on it since the BBC article appeared, I couldn't find anything else. I'll post a link if I stumble across anything.
     
  10. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Lead commenter

    The only possible reason for doing this is to allow middle class schools to get even higher in the league tables. Schools can't afford to have much influence on instrumental learning beyond a very basic level. Pupils at higher grades will have got there because their parents paid for lessons and supported them so I don't see why the school should take any credit.
    Ballet exams now attract UCAS points. Should they also be given GCSE equivalence? What about scout badges? Swimming badges. The further you can swim the more GCSEs you have!
     
  11. Red wine fan

    Red wine fan New commenter

    It's an interesting idea, but I can see both sides of the argument, as detailed above.
    However, as a parent of children who do both ballet and music, I am confident that ballet exams require at least the same level of rigour as ABRSM exams, if not more so. DD1 is just 12 and passed grade 6 cello at Easter. She also took grade 5 ballet in which she achieved a merit. The cello exam took around 20 minutes; she played 3 pieces accompanied by me, played a few scales chosen by the examiner, did her sight-reading and aurals and came out. In the ballet exam, she had to wear the correct uniform with literally not a hair out of place. She was assessed from the moment the door opened and she walked (ballet style) into the room. She had around a dozen exercises to do at the barre, chosen by the examiner, another 8 or so in the middle of the room, then had to change her costume and perform a number of character exercises and a dance. Almost all the names of the exercises are in French. There were other children in the room with her, some of whom got things wrong, which is very off-putting. That exam lasted for 40 minutes.
    My point is that we know about music exams and are surprised at their comparison with GCSE or A/S levels. The ballet exam seems to require as much if not more preparation, but neither is similar to GCSE. To me, music and ballet exams assess work which was done in the past: e.g. how well/fluently can you play/dance the pieces you have been learning for the last x months. You can pass an ABRSM exam without being able to sight-read or do Aural tests (although obviously not recommended) GCSE and A levels require you to apply knowledge rather more so they are different. The only benefit to FE/HE that I can see in listing music or ballet exams is that they demonstrate an ongoing commitment to learning a skill which has been assessed at a given level.
     
  12. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    A student who gets an A* in GCSE music will have studied composition and some modest level of analysis (and probably have done quite well in both to get an A*), neither of which a Grade 8 instrumentalist may ever have done.
    I guess that placing Grade 6 at GCSE equivalence reflects the fact that graded exams don't (by and large) include the range of skills demanded by GCSE but they do offer a greater challenge in performance (which is less than half the content of GCSE music).
    However, I'm suspicious of the accuracy of the BBC account, and wonder if their reporter seized on some ill-advised comment from a DfE spokesman at the press briefing when asked about what vocational exams would be deemed "proper" for the new league tables. Graded music exams fulfil most of the new criteria for exams in league tables:
    • 100% external assessment (very important in the new scheme of things)
    • Have been taught widely for at least two years (actually for more than 100 years, and internationally for much of that time)
    • Offer broad progression into occupational areas.
    But it doesn't look as though the detail of how the inclusion of music grades can reliably be included in a school's league tables has been given the slightest thought.
     
  13. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Probably so, although you then contradict the point:
    There I disagree. If you have good quality instrumental teachers and the school runs multiple orchestras and bands to give the kids goals to aim for, schools can be very effective in raising the standard of instrumental learning.
     

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