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ISM urge response to GCSE and A Level consultation

11 September 2014

The ISM has called on everyone in the music education sector to protest against the government’s proposals on the new GCSE, AS and A Level in Music, despite having been closely involved with the formulation of the proposals, alongside the Music Education Council and other bodies. 

New exam proposals include just one properly defined area of study: ‘music composed in the western classical tradition between 1700 and 1900’. Such a timeframe would mean that students miss out on discovering a wealth of important music.

In addition, the government is proposing to limit the percentage of the exam dedicated to performance and composition, with more weight given to the sit-down examination.

Chief executive of the ISM Deborah Annetts voiced her concerns that the new GCSE, AS and A Level exams may be neither rigorous nor relevant enough for the next generation of budding musicians:

‘We need engaging qualifications that will get pupils learning the key knowledge and skills they will need to study music at GCSE, AS and A level and perhaps follow this into higher education. These proposed reforms, especially the proposed areas of study, risk music becoming a rigid, restrictive subject and remove the important processes that make the subject creative. We urge everyone to respond to the consultation to get this fresh threat to music education stopped in its tracks.’

For more information and to respond to the consultation, visit the ISM website.

New national poll highlights NPME failure

9 September 2014

A new national survey of primary school teachers has revealed alarming statistics regarding the state of music education across the country.

The poll, conducted by YouGov, found that less than one fifth (19%) of primary schools in the country are offering all pupils the chance to learn an orchestral instrument for a year, free of charge. This is in contrast to the vision outlined by the government in its 2011 National Plan for Music Education, which stated: ‘Children from all backgrounds and every part of England should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument; to make music with others; to learn to sing; and to have the opportunity to progress to the next level of excellence if they wish to.’

Data from the poll demonstrated that:

  • Up to 30% of primary school children do not have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument at all during their time at school
  • Only 50% of children have the opportunity to learn an orchestral instrument
  • Of that 50%, only 37% get to learn those instruments for a year free of charge
  • So only 19% of primary schools give ALL pupils the chance to learn an orchestral instrument for a year free of charge
The YouGov poll was commissioned by Fresh One Productions on behalf of internationally-renowned concert pianist, James Rhodes, whose new two-part documentary series – Don’t Stop the Music – begins this evening at 9pm on Channel 4.

Voicing his concerns over the situation, James commented: ‘When the government introduced its National Plan for Music, I had high hopes that music education in this country would give every child, from every background, the opportunity to learn an instrument. But it remains a lottery; it is inconsistent and often poorly provided for. Young children have a hunger and thirst to learn music that is simply not being met.’ 

Pianos for Leighton Park

8 September 2014

Reading-based Leighton Park School has become the latest addition to Yamaha’s Music Education Partner Programme.

The co-ed day and boarding school is also the first educational institution in the UK to purchase one of Yamaha’s flagship CFX concert grand pianos.

Leighton Park School bought a total of 19 instruments, including grand, upright, digital and stage pianos. At the request of the school’s director of music Rosemary Scales, Yamaha UK enlisted the help of pianist and composer Julian Joseph to help with the selection process, which took place in Hamburg at Yamaha’s European headquarters.

Ms Scales commented: ‘In looking to replace our stock of existing pianos the quality of the instruments was clearly a key factor, but we also wanted to find a partner who was equally passionate about making music accessible, irrespective of individual capabilities. Yamaha very much reflected this approach within their Music Education Partner Programme.’

The full listing of new Yamaha pianos installed at Leighton Park School is:

1 x CFX Concert Grand Piano; 1 x C7X; 1 x C3X Conservatoire Grand Piano; 7 x U1 Upright Pianos; 4 x b3 and 3 x b2 Upright Pianos; 1 x CVP605 Clavinova Digital Piano; 1 x CP40 Stage Piano.

New Guitar Pack from Orange Amps

5 September 2014

Orange Amplification has launched a new guitar pack that contains everything needed to start playing the guitar, in one box.

The pack includes an Orange Guitar, Orange Crush PiX 12L amplifier combo, Orange branded gig bag, headstock tuner, guitar lead, six plectrums and a strap. The new beginner guitar tuition course, Orange Music Education’s Rock Guitar, is also part of the pack – along with ten video tutorial lessons and backing tracks.

The Orange guitar from the pack is made from solid wood, with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard. It features chrome hardware including Orange branded machine heads, a Tune-o-matic bridge, a three way pickup selector switch with two tone and volume controls. It is also fitted with medium / high output humbuckers giving a wide range of classic and modern tones. The guitar’s finish is available in three colours: black, white or the company’s signature bright orange.

The new pack will retail for £229 (including VAT), and will be available from the beginning of October 2014. More information can be found on the Orange Amps website.

Understanding Progress 8

3 September 2014

FFT is collaborating with The Association of School and College Leaders to hold a series of events helping schools to understand and prepare for the new accountability measures that will be coming into place from 2016.

Half day events will be held in London and Birmingham this November. Attendees will receive their own FFT data report that will help their schools and institutions understand the practicalities of Progress 8, and formulate an action plan.

‘Progress 8 is the most significant policy change affecting school leaders over the next few years,’ says ASCL deputy policy director Duncan Baldwin. ‘It is essential that they understand how this measure will impact upon their schools. ASCL is delighted to be working with FFT in delivering sessions which will provide accurate, relevant and timely information tailored to individual schools.’

Dr Mike Treadaway, director of innovation and research for FFT, will deliver the sessions alongside ASCL’s Duncan Baldwin. Topics covered will include information on why the government is changing the headline measure; how Progress 8 works and how it is calculated; operation of the floor standard and likely changes in the future. Attendees will also be able to find out whether opting in early will suit their particular institution, and if so how to go about it.

‘FFT were commissioned by the Department for Education to provide schools with information about their performance on the new accountability measures,’ says Mike Treadaway. ‘ Recently each state secondary school received a joint FFT and DfE report from Key to Success to support early planning to help schools consider their curriculum and teaching in light of the accountability reforms.  FFT are receiving many enquiries from school leaders who are looking for extra information on having a practical approach to Progress 8, so the events have been designed to help teachers formulate an achievable plan of action and to understand the changes so that they can start adapting immediately.’  

The half-day briefings will cost £129, plus VAT. To book a place, or to find out more information, visit the FFT website or email events@fft.org.uk.


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