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Gloucestershire Music teachers threatened with redundancy

2 March 2012

There are fears that dozens of peripatetic music teachers could lose their jobs after Gloucestershire County Council launched a restructuring consultation in preparation for the National Plan for Music Education’s development of local hubs in the autumn.

Around 200 staff, including teachers and administrators, are involved in the consultation which began at the end of February. All staff have been invited to apply for posts in the new structure or to apply for voluntary redundancy. The new structure will be in place from September 2012 so any redundancies are likely to be made in the summer.

The council is proposing to stop providing individual and small-group tuition and plans to 'maintain and develop all other current services with a range of partners' as the basis of its music hub bid.

The new hubs will have to ensure that every child, aged five to 18, has the opportunity to sing and learn a musical instrument, as well as perform as part of an ensemble or choir. There will be more group teaching and it is believed that peris without classroom experience may not fit in the new style of teaching.

Gloucestershire Music, the county council’s music service, currently provides tuition to more than 10,000 pupils in schools and to around 1,000 pupils through music centres, orchestras and bands. If the council’s bid is successful, the new hub would develop from this service.

Cllr Jackie Hall, cabinet member for education and skills, said: 'The idea behind these new music hubs is that all children will have opportunities to learn a musical instrument and sing, not just those who can afford individual lessons.'

Jo Grills, operations director for education, learning and libraries, said: 'The way the government provides funding for music education is changing. The new music hubs will need to meet new priorities set out by government to continue to secure this funding.

'This means that while more children will benefit from whole-class tuition and other opportunities to make music, the county council will no longer be able to provide tutors for individual and small-group music lessons from September 2012.

'Staff will be employed by the music hub to meet the new priorities and while there will be some job losses, mainly of part-time tutors, demand from schools for their services will continue to be high. The county council will support tutors undertaking individual tuition to make new arrangements directly with schools or parents.'

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), told MT: 'The ISM is concerned that music services are making redundancies at this critical time when they should be concentrating on delivering a quality music education along the lines envisaged by Ofsted.

'It bodes ill for the National Plan for Music Education and the government’s aspirations for music education if, as a result of the introduction of hubs, we are losing highly experienced music teachers who could meet Ofsted’s challenge for greater musicality, access and diversity.'

An executive member of the Federation of Music Services said that councils had to deal with a cut in funding in the past two years and could expect further cuts in the next two years.

'There has been a reduction in income so we can expect a reduction in staffing, but I don't expect there to be a reduction in one-to-one teaching as a result of the introduction of hubs.

'Children in urban areas are generally not going to have a problem finding a teacher but in rural areas a lack of provision from the music services could make it difficult for some students to find a teacher.'

ABRSM becomes major sponsor of Music for Youth

1 March 2012

ABRSM has announced a new partnership with Music for Youth (MfY), the music education charity which provides free access to performance and audience opportunities for young musicians across the UK. ABRSM will become one of six sponsors supporting MFY.

ABRSM’s sponsorship will support the ongoing promotion and expansion of MfY’s Regional Festival Series, the world’s largest youth music festival which began in February and continues until April, and involves over 50,000 musicians and singers.

'Music for Youth and ABRSM have been working together since 1995 to support young musicians across the UK,' said Lincoln Abbotts, MfY's chief executive. 'This is a significant development for our longstanding relationship and we see huge potential with this new sponsorship agreement.' Abbotts will be leaving MfY to work for ABRSM later this year.

This year ABRSM’s support will help fund around 70 festivals in over 50 different venues throughout the UK from Truro to Inverness. The festivals will be attended by musicians of all levels, from school choirs to punk bands, duos to county youth orchestras. Some of the performers will have had experience of performing in large venues while others may be performing for the very first time.

'We’re extremely proud to be one of Music for Youth’s key sponsors this year, and in particular to give our support to the Regional Festivals,' said Guy Perricone, chief executive of ABRSM. 'We want to inspire as many people as we can to participate and progress in music. Giving young musicians the opportunity to perform live and receive feedback from the mentors at MFY is something we applaud loudly.'

Purcell School celebrates 50th birthday with Festival Hall concert

1 March 2012

The Purcell School is to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a concert at the Royal Festival Hall on 19 March at 7.30pm.

Works will include Holst's The Planets, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto and a new concertante work by Joseph Phibbs, all conducted by  Paul Daniel. The concert will feature a line-up of alumni soloists from the school, including Robert Cohen, cello, Nicholas Daniel, oboe, Jack Liebeck, violin, Catrin Finch harp, Tim Thorpe, horn and Jianing Kong, piano, accompanied by current students Purcell School Symphony Orchestra.

The school, the first specialist music school of its kind, was founded in 1962 by Rosemary Rapaport and Irene Foster. There are currently 180 musicians at its present site, in Bushey, Hertfordshire. It takes both boarders and day pupils and accepts students by audition, based on talent, regardless of background and experience. The school remains predominantly funded by the government's Music and Dance Scheme but also has its own scholarship fund.

The school’s President, Sir Simon Rattle CBE, said he is 'blown away by the commitment, skill and infectious energy of the remarkable young musicians. The school is a vibrant place where creativity and discipline go hand in hand, providing specialist training for musicians of the future, alongside an excellent general education. It gives me great hope for the future of the music profession when I hear what these young people are capable of. I send my very best wishes to the school for its 50th Birthday!'

Tickets for the concert are priced at £40, £20 and £10 and are available by calling 0844 847 9910 or by visiting www.southbankcentre.co.uk. VIP packages are available by calling 01923 331131 or by emailing e.mcgrath@purcell-school.org.

Oxford University receives £26m humanities bequest

1 March 2012

Music is one of the subjects to benefit from the recently announced Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Scholarships in the humanities at the University of Oxford.

The £26m bequest is the biggest in the University’s 900-year history and will be launched immediately with 15 scholarships a year. It will eventually be endowed in perpetuity to award at least 35 graduate humanities scholarships annually.

Leading humanities students from throughout the world will compete for full graduate scholarships in fields as diverse as literature, history, music, archaeology, art history, Asian studies and Middle Eastern studies. The recipients of the award will be able to use Mica and Ahmet Ertegun House for the Study of the Humanities, a five-storey Georgian building in the heart of Oxford, which will be fitted with state-of-the-art technological capability and serve as a base for study and research by the Ertegun Scholars, and also for concerts.

The chancellor of the University of Oxford, Lord Patten, said: ‘This kind of support for postgraduates is vital for the future of research and human understanding, and vital for the future of great universities like Oxford. It allows us to ensure that the very best minds are supporting the university’s research endeavour now and will be the cutting edge researchers of the future.’

Mica Ertegun, the Romanian-born widow of Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, now lives in New York City, and said that music was ‘one of the great joys of life’. She added: ‘In these times, when there is so much strife in the world, I believe it is tremendously important to support those things that endure across time, that bind people together from every culture, and that enrich the capacity of human beings to understand one another and make the world a more humane place.’

Ofsted: one in five schools inadequate for music

1 March 2012

Ofsted has published a report which states that one in five English schools is inadequate for music.

Based on data collected from 2008 to 2011, the report found wide differences in the quality and quantity of music education in schools across England, with insufficient emphasis placed on active music-making in too many lessons. The scarcity of good vocal work in secondary schools, where nearly half of those inspected were judged inadequate for singing, and the underuse of music technology across all levels were also significant barriers to pupils’ musical progress.

Across the primary and secondary schools visited, around twice as many girls as boys were involved in extra-curricular activities. In secondary schools, only 6% of students with disabilities or special educational needs were involved in additional tuition, compared to 14% of students without these needs. Nearly all the schools recognised the importance of promoting a diverse range of musical styles, but far fewer had a clear understanding about how students should make good musical progress.

The report, entitled Music in schools: wider still, and wider, is complemented by six new films exemplifying good practice in a wide range of settings. These are designed to help all schools. Launching the report, her majesty’s chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said: ‘Inspectors looking at music teaching in nearly 200 schools saw quality ranging from outstandingly good to extremely poor. Too often, inspectors simply did not see enough music in music lessons.

‘Too much use was made of non-musical activities such as writing without any reference to musical sound. Too much time was spent talking about tasks without teachers actually demonstrating what was required musically, or allowing the pupils to get on with their music making. Assessment was often inaccurate, over-complex or unmusical, particularly in secondary schools. All this limited time for practical music, detracting from pupils’ musical improvement and enjoyment.

‘School leaders need to monitor and challenge robustly the quality of music teaching and curriculum planning. I hope that schools and the new music hubs will use our recommendations to improve the quality of their music education.’

The report recommends that schools give sufficient, regular time for developing aural awareness and musical understanding, and ensure that opportunities for pupils’ practical, creative application and response to music are given priority. It also recommends that schools do more to ensure the sustained participation and musical achievement of specific groups of pupils, particularly boys; pupils with special educational needs; pupils known to be in receipt of free school meals; and children who are looked after.

Poor teaching highlighted by the report includes entire lessons, for example, where teachers did not play or sing a single note. In one lesson students sat passively while the teacher spent almost 20 minutes explaining complicated assessment objectives. One Year 9 class completed the copying of information about the lives of Eric Clapton and Johnny Cash but did not engage in musical activity.

The six films include examples which highlight the impact external providers can have on achievement and participation. These films cover a diverse range of schools, including a primary school where 98% of pupils are from minority ethnic groups, a high-attaining boys’ secondary school, and a special school for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties. They can be viewed at the following links:



The report can be read in full at: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources

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