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Not allowed to have instrumental lessons during school time

Discussion in 'Music' started by merturtle, Jun 12, 2015.

  1. merturtle

    merturtle New commenter

    I have recently taken over a Department which needs turning around.

    I would like to offer instrumental lessons to new Year 7 students next year who have had Wider Opportunities/ Class Band tuition in their primary school.

    The idea was that their teacher would recommend students who are G&T and should be given the opportunity to continue. I've now been told that lessons shouldn't take place during the school day as it's too disruptive. I explained about students being on a rota so that they wouldn't miss the same lesson each week. I am trying to boost the take up at KS4 and can't see how I can do this without instrumental lessons.

    We only have a short lunch break and after school may not be practical e.g. what if there are 12 students having a shared 20 minute lesson, some would have to wait for after school for an hour and 40 minutes for their lesson to start.

    I was told that if a student wants to learn an instrument they should do it in their own time! Alternatively I could teach the whole class an instrument for half a term as a project (this was from another Arts specialist). How can I teach students proficiency on an instrument in an hour a week for 6 weeks?

    To be honest, I was so taken aback that I wasn't sure what to say. Has anyone else faced this situation? Advice would be most welcome.
  2. bod99

    bod99 New commenter

    That's ridiculous. How are you supposed to have quality music throughout a school if you don't really allow anyone to have instrumental lessons.

    Can you find out what happens in other local secondaries and use sheer weight of evidence to convince them of the merits of in-school lessons? Are there NO instrumental lessons currently at all?

    I think Ofsted would be appalled that nothing is offered. It is standard practice for children to miss lessons on a rota system (possibly with fixed lessons for those who are struggling academically so they don't miss maths/literacy).
  3. tanbur

    tanbur New commenter

    A school where I worked for 18 years had a good team of instrumental instructors established. My decision to leave was mainly based on what happened in year 17 - a new headteacher decreed that all instrumental teachers would work after school for a once a week 'music club'.
  4. muso2

    muso2 Established commenter Community helper

    This happened to a colleague of mine in another school - it killed the music department.

    Practically speaking, if you have more than 3 students/groups of students who want to learn the same instrument, it's not going to fit in a lunch hour. Peripatetic teachers mostly work full-time not just at lunchtimes or after 4pm, and you could certainly no longer use the music service if you were so unflexible with your requirements.

    Generally, the kids who would come out of lessons are the sort who can catch up pretty quickly and are motivated. In a spirit of compromise, perhaps you could have an agreement for parents and students involved to sign saying that they would be proactive in ensuring they catch up with work missed and homework set after they've left for their lesson (not a detention type scenario though!). Perhaps it would be worth speaking to your local music hub and asking for their support in explaining to your head how it works. Even if they gave you some extra ideas that may be helpful.

    Sadly, I am not amazed that the head said it, but it shows a complete lack of understanding of how music works. Perhaps you could suggest they take a straw poll at meetings with other heads to see what is happening in other schools (though this may plant their bad idea in other heads' minds!).

    Even more sadly, what this inevitably leads to is music teachers feeling all their work is wasted, their subject is not valued, and looking elsewhere for jobs, as tanbur has said above.
  5. muso2

    muso2 Established commenter Community helper

    Also, you need to look at what's in it for your head and put this into your argument.

    Students having instrumental lessons means...

    - happy parents (i.e. not transferring their kids to other schools that will give them lessons)

    - happier Ofsted as your music provision is improving - look up and highlight relevant parts in the Ofsted criteria for subject inspections

    - having a school orchestra/ensemble - flagship for the school

    - better school concerts

    - improvement in the profile of music and the school generally if more students are participating - think of nice display posters around school and photos on the school website and magazine of students at your school playing instruments

    - improvement in achievement esp at KS4 where instrumental tuition makes a massive impact - GCSE is 30% performance and 30% composition in all the boards from 2016

    - and any additional things you can think of relevant to your school - think of it from their angle.

    Good luck.
  6. Red wine fan

    Red wine fan New commenter

    What about the transferable skills that instrumental lessons bring? The discipline that goes with learning an instrument, the commitment to practice etc. are all valuable skills. I agree with others who suggest talking to local schools to see how they manage. For the record, DD1 had a 30 minute sax lesson every week which rotated around her timetable and still managed 12 A*s in her GCSEs.
  7. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    Merturtle, Muso2 's posts are the best answers to your problem ( all the others are great too!). There should be no debate about this - kids at our school sign a contract-thingey saying that they will catch up on work which they miss as a result of their weekly lesson. Parents are delighted to sign too, agreeing to support any extra homework. Why not suggest a trial period (is a year too long guys?) and see what happens? That way you can have 4 end-of-term concerts, enter some for AB/Trinity exams, enter a local music festival, get pupils' names in your local press.

    Good luck - please keep in touch and tell us how it all works out!
  8. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Speaking as a maths teacher, I've never had a problem with the kids who've missed maths for their instrumental lesson. They're often the ones who will cope best anyway, and they take on the responsibility for finding out what they've missed.

    You can mitigate things a little by checking through the kids you have signed up. Many schools make sure that KS4 pupils get the lunchtime/after school lessons. Some avoid the rotas hitting key subjects. It sounds as if you're targetting year 7, so they'll all be the same year; you could offer that when you have your list of pupils, you'll check whether your list includes any that are likely to struggle with missing lessons, and give them lunchtime/breaktime.

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