Music should be taught to all children in the same way that every other National Curriculum subject is taught – by qualified teachers, argues Jonathan Savage as he completes a submission to the Department for Education’s Call for Evidence for the 2020 National Plan for Music Education.
Here at UCan Play, our strong view is that the only way in which every child in the United Kingdom can be sure to receive a systematic, developmental and coherent music education is when music (as a National Curriculum subject) is integrated within the curriculum in every primary and secondary school.
Music should be taught to all children by qualified teachers in the same way that every other National Curriculum subject is taught. It should have designated time in the curriculum at each Key Stage, by teachers who have the appropriate subject and pedagogical knowledge, and access to regular professional development, plus an appropriate set of musical instruments and technologies.
Whilst we are fully aware of the part that music education hubs can play in helping deliver a strong music education offer to children (I am Chair of Trustees for one such hub), the current approach taken by the Government has only increased the patchiness of music education across the UK.
More of the same is not enough. Schools have to take a central role in this. In our submission to the DfE, we have argued that headteachers who make poor choices in relation to the provision of Music in their schools must be held to account by OFSTED for these choices and forced to change their approach.
Like many in the sector, we have been pleased to note a new tone in OFSTED’s recent work that has highlighted the requirement for a ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum for all children. Indeed, this very phrase is part of the introduction to the DfE’s consultation document.
I strongly encourage you to share your views about music education with the DfE. Who knows if they will listen? But this is an opportunity to contribute and we should all take this seriously. The last such opportunity was ten years ago. The result wasn’t brilliant but, fingers crossed, perhaps they can do better this time around. Let’s remain optimistic.
One thing’s for certain, it can’t be worse than the ideas around the recently shelved ABRSM-led model music curriculum.
About the author
Jonathan Savage is the Managing Director of UCan Play. He has enjoyed a long career in music education, working for two high schools and co-leading the largest PGCE course in the UK at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is the Director of Academic Studies at the newly formed Resonance in Dudley.