Higher education keeps UK in top ranks
8 May 2014
A global education league table has placed the UK sixth in the world, and second amongst European countries.
The rankings are based on a combination of international tests and education data. These include the OECD’s Pisa tests, and two major US-based studies – ‘Timss’ (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) and ‘Pirls’ (Progression in International Reading Literacy Study).
South Korea, Japan and Singapore hold the top three places in the new league table, followed by Hong Kong, Finland (top European country) and then the UK.
Based on the results of the Pisa tests alone, the UK would have failed to make the top 20. Higher education graduation rates gave a significant boost to the UK’s position on the table.
Those questioning the strength of the report have argued that the success of top-performing Asian countries is down to the culture of rote learning, whereby students have to memorise pages of facts. Skills such as problem-solving and creativity are far harder to measure.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: ‘Given the criticism of schools by many of our politicians you could be forgiven for thinking that our education system compares unfavourably with others. Yet when alternative research becomes available, it shows a different picture.’General secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers’ union, Mary Bousted, said she is ‘confident’ that Michael Gove will respond appropriately by commending the hard work of teachers and lecturers in the UK’s achievement in the league tables.
Music teachers to be replaced by 'volunteers'
7 May 2014
The Musicians’ Union (MU) is supporting music teachers in their campaigns against council cuts in Cornwall and the Isle of Wight, where a total of 92 teaching jobs are under threat.
Recent comments by councillor Steve Priest on BBC South led to a rally and open air concert held by 250 protestors alongside the MU on 26 April. Priest remarked that he would be ‘looking for musicians in the area to teach our children as volunteers as there are many people who can play instruments’.
Diane Widdison, the MU’s national organiser for education
and training, responded: ‘As part of this Government’s idea of “Big Society”
they appear to think that they can use the newly set up Music Hubs as a
smokescreen for cutting teachers’ jobs.
'Music teachers are highly trained, skilled professionals and the idea that they can adequately be replaced with volunteers is absurd and can only be detrimental to the young people of the area.’
Supporters can sign a petition here.
ISM releases support document for new National Curriculum
2 May 2014
The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) has published an assessment and progression framework that will help schools and music hubs prepare for September’s new National Curriculum.
Released this week, the document is a short accessible guide for teachers. It was drawn up by the ISM in consultation with music educators, teachers, school leaders, teaching unions and hubs. Complete with wall chart to help with assessment and progression planning, the document can be found here.
Dr Alison Daubney, a research fellow and music teacher at the University of Sussex, said: 'This substantial piece of work celebrates the genuine collaboration between a large number of local, regional and national organisations through an open peer review process. I would like to express my thanks to everyone who has contributed, particularly the teachers and school leaders in SoundCity, Brighton and Hove’s Music Education hub, who initiated this work in November 2013. This document forms an important part of the ISM’s support for the implementation of the new curriculum. We are confident that it is relevant across all phases of music education and that the principles described here are in line with guidance for excellent practice in other subjects.'
Two further guides on how to prepare for the new National Curriculum for Music can also be found on the ISM’s National Curriculum page.
Creative Scotland launches 2014/5 YMI fund
1 May 2014
Creative Scotland has announced the launch of the 2014/5 Youth Music Initiative (YMI), supported by £10m from the Scottish government.
Now entering its twelfth year, YMI runs hundreds of projects each year for young people of all ages, offering them opportunities to get involved in various different genres of music. To date the Scottish government has invested £97.5m in this hugely successful initiative.
£8m of this year’s funding will go to Scottish local authorities to run music-making activities in schools from August 2015. A further £1.6m will be available to individuals through The Access To Music Making Fund, which runs music projects outside schools. £200,000 will be put towards training that will improve the youth music sector in Scotland. Details of how to apply for this funding can be found here.
Janet Archer, CEO at Creative Scotland, commented: ‘The YMI will create new music-making opportunities delivered by Scotland’s diverse and talented music practitioners. Participants will learn music making skills, build their confidence, be provided with progression opportunities and hopefully have a lot of fun along the way. Our continuing strong partnership with all thirty two of Scotland’s local authorities enables the YMI to have a truly national reach.’
To date, YMI has trained 1000 Bookbug Session Leaders who have delivered song, story and rhyme sessions to more than 1.5m preschool children. YMI has provided one year of free instrumental tuition to primary school children across Scotland, as well as creating opportunities for children to create music with providers such as Drake Music Scotland, Fèis Rois and the Scottish Brass Band Association. 400 young bands and musicians have also been granted access to professional standard recording facilities at studios throughout the country.
Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: ‘This is an innovative and popular programme which has made a real difference to the lives of our young people. The Youth Music Initiative has created career pathways for Scotland’s young talent as well as giving many thousands of young people across the country the opportunity to learn about and enjoy making music.’
Julian Lloyd Webber retires from performance
29 April 2014
British cellist Julian Lloyd Webber has been forced to bring an end to his performance career due to a herniated disc in his neck which has reduced the power in his right arm.
Lloyd Webber’s final performance as a cellist will take place on 2 May at the Forum Theatre, Malvern with the English Chamber Orchestra.
In a statement to his agent, Lloyd Webber said:
‘I am devastated. There were so many exciting plans that cannot now come to fruition. I have had an immensely fulfilling career and feel privileged to have worked with so many great musicians and orchestras but now I have to move on.
I have no intention of enduring a forced retirement though. I would like to use the knowledge I have gained through my life as a musician and an educator to give back as much as I can to the music profession which has given me so much over the years.
I have just completed two new recordings which will be released later this year but after 2 May my cello will fall silent. I now need time to reflect and to consider this sudden and distressing life-changing situation and there will be no further comment at this time.’
Lloyd Webber’s determination to keep giving back to the music community is a testament to his passion for music education. He was recently awarded the ISM’s ‘Distinguished Musician Award’ in recognition of his contribution to this field.
More details of Julian Lloyd Webber’s plans for the next stage of his career will be discussed in the June edition of Music Teacher.
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