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Positive sounding recommendations about music in the new curriculum.

Discussion in 'Music' started by YesMrBronson, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

  2. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

  3. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Mr B.
    Quick initial thought (as I'm shortly out examining for the rest of the day). It seems extraordinary to jump from a position where the continued existence of music in the National Curriculum was in doubt to one where music (along with art, dance and drama) could become compulsory for all at KS4. While I applaud the ambition, and can see the chance for some innovative projects at this level, non-examination courses at KS4 are unlikely to thrive unless there is a massive change in the attitude to assessment at the end of KS4.
    I'll hope to have a more detailed read over the holiday.
  4. You may be surprised, but I am not at all surprised because Michael Gove is a huge fan of the arts and music. Good old Govie. Merry Christmas all.
  5. However, there are ways round it. If schools shut down the timetable for a whole day dedicated to Arts, this will suffice. It doesn't mean they have to study it for one lesson a week - exam or non exam.

  6. There is good news of a sort! The recommendation is that Music will be a foundation subject in the National Curriculum for Key Stages 1 ? 3 (that will be Years 1 ? 8 in the new system) alongside Art and Design. Geography, History and PE will be foundation subjects across Key Stages 1 ? 4; MFL for Key Stages 2 ? 4.

    The report recommends changes to the Key Stage structure (see Chapter 5). The new structure, if adopted, will be Key Stage 1 (Years 1 & 2), Lower Key Stage 2 (Years 3 & 4), Upper Key Stage 2 (Years 5 & 6), Key Stage 3 (Years 7 &  and Key Stage 4 (Years 9 ? 11). NOTE the change to a two year Key Stage 3 that will impact on the provision of Music compared to the current system.

    What does that mean? It means that Music will be a statutory requirement. It will have a Programme of Study, but that will be ?refined and condensed with minimal or no Attainment Target? (see p.25 of the Report). You may think this is good news. I?m not so sure. It rather depends what ?refined and condensed? means.

    Furthermore, the Report makes a further proposal that is relevant here. ?The Arts?, the authors suggest, should be made compulsory at Key Stage 4 as part of a ?Basic Curriculum? (as opposed to those Core and Foundation subjects that make up the National Curriculum). I am not sure how schools will interpret this if it is adopted. 

    Other points to remember are as follows.

    Firstly, the Government has announced that there will a one year delay in implementing these changes. Those of us in the music education community are used to Government delays and extended deadlines! So, a new National Curriculum will not be in place until September 2014 (at the earliest). I?m not sure I really buy the reasons given for this by the DfE (more debate, taking time to get it right, etc). It smacks of incompetence to me, and a recognition that making all your curriculum experts redundant last year really wasn?t the best move.

    Secondly, when the new National Curriculum is launched it really won?t be a ?national? curriculum in any meaningful sense. By then, if the current trends continue, the vast majority of secondary schools and many primary schools will have opted out by becoming academies and will not be obliged to follow the ?national? curriculum at all. The accountability structures for academies are already causing many people a great deal of concern; this will only continue and concerns will deepen I suspect as some of the legal frameworks and apparent  financial benefits (they?re not looking so attractive now are they?) underpinning academies begin to unravel.

    Thirdly, in all the exuberance about the report it is worth remembering that it is just a report from a group of experienced, well informed and intelligent education experts. On that basis, it seems highly likely that Gove will ignore the whole thing. Only kidding! But whilst the report might, on the whole, be encouraging in many respects, there is still campaigning and advocacy work to be done. This report is not Government policy and there are no guarantees that the Government will adopt each recommendation here. So, for music education, let?s not starting counting any chickens before they are hatched.

    Finally, an apology. I have been a bit hasty with the negative prose about our music education organisations on my blog. One organisation, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, has done sterling work over the last year. Their Public Affairs and Policy Officer ? Henry Vann ? deserves particular praise for his tireless advocacy and campaigning on behalf of the music education community. Thanks Henry and apologies for overlooking the excellent work you have done. You are a valued colleague and I really appreciate your sustained and powerful advocacy. I know much of this takes place behind the scenes but it is important to recognise, publicly, your contribution which does, I know, go well beyond the legitimate demands made of you by your employer.

    Happy Christmas to all!
  7. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    It's nothing to do with Gove. It's one of a number of reports that have been commissioned on the National Curriculum that may or may not influence his thinking.
  8. It has got to do with Gove. He is very keen on the arts, and says so at every opportunity.
  9. It was quite a hard read, this report. My heart lept when I read the parts you referred to about the arts - however, I suspect that such a "statutory" provision at KS4 might include singing songs in assemblies or some such drivel (nothign wrong with singing in assemblies by the way, but it does not necessarily constitute a musical education) or perhaps a day out at a drumming workshop.
    I was more concerned, earlier on in the report, about the focus on geography, History and a number of other subjects that the authors seem to think should constitute foundation subjects (4.17). There seems to be a bit of an obsession with these two in particular and I question the independence of this report, especially as it mentions continuing the Ebac (4.19) as providing "focused breadth of provision". I am almost inclined to consign the term "focused breadth" to same oxymoron dustbin as "sustainable development".
    I am not advocating that Music be included as an examined subject, but I am suggesting that making more subjects compulsory (yet not necessarily examined) at KS4 crouds the curriculum and reduces choice.
    Lastly, I am still a proponent of designing the curriculum around the students. There are schools where the vast majoriy of students come from homes where no one is in work, or aspirations are low - while I can see that it would be wonderful if these students had a good grasp of History and Geography, I suspect their time would be better spent getting practical qualifications in subjects that will get them out of this poverty trap. I have taught in such schools in the past and have concerns about these proposals which I think come from a well educated and rather closeted elite.
  10. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Yes, but the report is just one of a number on the National Curriculum that Gove is going to consider. He didn't write it and neither has he yet approved it.
    As others have pointed out, Michael Gove's main ambition is to slim down the National Curriculum, and the fact that this report effectively does the opposite may well mean that the Secretary of State does not accept its conclusions.
    Also, and again as others have noted, the majority of secondary schools will be Academies by the time the revised National Curriculum is implemented, and they are under no obligation to follow the National Curriculum at all.
  11. And Gove didn't include music in his precious English bacc.
  12. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

  13. My reading of this is that the references to the Arts at Key Stage 4 are precisely because Gove has recognised the failings of the Englsih Baccalaureate. It has been criticised by so many groups, including his own parliamentary select committee. However, if this proposal is adopted there would be no guidance or recommended approach schools would have to adopt. It would be up to them to make an arts 'offer' at Key Stage 4 of some sort.

    This does illustrate the power of political campaigning though. I also believe that the recommendation to include Music in the list of Foundation subjects is in response to the considerable representation individuals have made to policy makers. The same can't be said of many of our national music organisations.

    However, this new curriculum does not look much slimmer than the current one and therein lies a worry. Gove's stated aim was to produced a slimmer curricululm that gives schools greater autonomy. For most schools by 2014 this curriculum will be an irrelevance; but it will be interesting to see whether or not he accepts the recommendations of his chosen experts for th remainder.
  14. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    I find that very difficult to believe. As I explained to Walnuthead, this is a report by an independent expert panel, appointed to help Michael Gove in his deliberations. There is no indication that Gove has had any input to the report. Indeed, if he had of done so, the political independence of the report would inevitably be called into question.
    I think you're right in saying that the panel see their proposals as helping to balance the restrictions of the Eng Bacc (they pretty much say that), but I think this is of their own volition and not through any prompting from Gove.
  15. I'd like to be more optimistic but i'm also not sure how much impact this would have if adopted. This inclusion in the 'basic curriculum' could surely be gotten around and a box ticked by a few displays and the odd assembly. I wonder how much of this report is 'lip service' with regard to the arts. Am I just being cynical?

    On a positive, I would much prefer to be in our shoes than those of Design and Technology, ICT and Citizenship who would appear to get a little bit of a slap in the face!
  16. As an ICT teacher, I would prefer to be in your shoes too [​IMG]

  17. trelassick

    trelassick New commenter

    Thank you YMB for posting in the first place. I would hope that schools will begin planning now - I'm certainly going to be bringing the document up with our SLT and making some early suggestions about ideas for "The Arts" for everyone in KS4.

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