New GCSEs to be benchmarked internationally
6 April 2014
England's GCSE pupils will be benchmarked
against high-performing international counterparts from 2017. Ofqual has unveiled a plan to
link GCSE grades to levels achieved by pupils in China, Singapore and other countries deemed to be high-performing,
but the idea of an international educational currency has prompted concern from
teaching unions, who said some countries excluded certain types of children to
boost their scores in international tests.
performance of students in England has recently lagged behind cities and
countries such as Shanghai in China, Japan, Singapore and South Korea, as
measured by the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) education
survey from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
In the most recent Pisa survey,
published last year, English students achieved marks of 500 in reading and 495
in maths. By contrast, Shanghai students scored 570 in reading and 613 in
maths, and Hong Kong 545 and 561 respectively.
Lightman, the general secretary of the Association of School and College
Leaders, said Pisa – which surveys a small sample of 15-year-olds in each
country taking part – was not an appropriate benchmark to use for a reform of GCSEs.
‘While we understand the government's wish to raise the bar by aligning some
grades to Pisa, this raises all kinds of issues. Pisa is a completely different
kind of exam than the new GCSEs,’ he said.
James Rhodes tackles music education in new Channel 4 series
6 April 2014
Channel 4 has commissioned Fresh One to make a three-part series
in which pianist James Rhodes aims to get Britain playing again by launching
this country’s biggest ever ‘instrument amnesty’.
The programmes see Rhodes launch his ambitious experiment in Basildon, working in partnership with the
people of one town to prove that his approach can work nationwide. It will be
accompanied by a major campaign to build on this case study, spreading the
amnesty across the country and getting instruments currently languishing in
cupboards and attics to the musicians and potential musicians who need them.
Rhodes said: ‘Within the space of a generation, music
education in this country has been decimated. Where once it was inclusive,
widespread and available, it is now, sadly, seen as a luxury rather than a
basic right. I am so thrilled to be working with Channel 4 to address this.
Music has an undeniable, proven positive impact on self-esteem, discipline,
teamwork, numeracy, behavioural problems and confidence. The fact that it has
all but disappeared from the majority of our state schools is as shocking as it
is appalling. This is potentially the most exciting and rewarding project I
could ever hope to work on and, with the right support, it's something that I hope
will create lasting change.’
John Hay, Commissioning Editor for Arts, said: ‘James is a
genuinely inspirational figure and with this series, he has found his cause.
The instrument amnesty is one of those ideas that – once described – seems so
obvious and so right that you wonder why it isn’t already happening, so we’re
delighted to be able to throw the channel’s weight behind it to try and bring
about real and permanent change.’
Chethams to build 420-seat concert hall
30 March 2014
Chetham’s School of Music has received a major pledge of funding to
create a new concert hall. The 420 capacity £7.5 million Concert
Hall, due for completion in Spring 2017, will be located within Chetham’s new
building, next to Victoria Station in the city centre.
This latest project continues
the expansion of the school and will create a rehearsal and performance venue
for Chetham’s students, visiting artists and ensembles across all genres, and a
vibrant national resource – especially for young people - for music-making,
recording and broadcasting. For Chetham’s students it will offer long-awaited and unrivalled resources and will enable the Chetham’s Symphony
Orchestra to perform in front of an audience in their own home.
The shells of the Concert Hall, Box
Office and Bar have stayed empty since Chetham’s moved into its new building in
September 2012. Work to transform these spaces will soon be underway thanks to
significant initial support from The Garfield Weston Foundation and the
generosity of The Stoller Charitable Trust, allowing the school to realise its
vision to create a symphonic-sized performance space with high-quality
acoustics for the first time in its 45-year history.
The new Concert Hall is a major step
forward in a £50m programme of capital developments at Chetham’s, which began
with a state-of-the-art new school building. Following the Concert Hall, the
next phase will be a Heritage Visitor Attraction sharing history and architecture
The Stoller Charitable Trust
commented: 'Chetham's School of Music has established itself over the centuries
as a jewel in the crown of Manchester's educational and cultural centre, and
its exceptional new building cries out for the completion of a world-class
Concert Hall. The Stoller Charitable Trust is proud to assist in completing
this important venue to enable the very best music-making and performance
facilities to become available.'
Stephen Threlfall, Director of Music
said: 'We are committed to developing and expanding our role in music education
and performance, increasing the contribution we make to the musical life of the
nation. This is our home, but it’s not just for us. We want to share it with
the people of Manchester, musicians from across the country and visitors from
around the world.'
Schools Music Association announces merger with ISM
30 March 2014
The Schools Music Association (SMA) is to become part of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) as of 1 July.
The two organisations
have increasingly worked together in recent years in areas of advocacy and
support for music educators. Following the merger,
the ISM organisation, name and normal
functions will continue unaltered. SMA
members will become part of the ISM and will be known as ‘ISM-SMA’ members. Those that choose to upgrade
to full ISM membership can also enjoy the legal,
insurance and other services that the ISM offers.
The SMA has been
consulting its members on the future of the organisation since 2012. SMA members
indicated an overwhelming preference to explore merger with the ISM in
November 2012, and at their AGM on 26 October 2013 voted unanimously
for the association to merge with the larger ISM.
Jay Deeble, Chairman of the SMA, said: ‘After 76 years of
working to help children and their teachers make music together, we are looking
forward to the next 76, working as a vibrant part of the ISM. Joint projects, and shared
values and attitudes mean that the transition should be seamless, and we shall
continue to provide an essential network for music teachers, serving as a vital
link between those working with young people and the policy makers at local,
regional and national level. Our aims will remain unchanged and we shall
continue to organise events involving children in mass music-making, as well as
provide termly resources to members.’
Joanna MacGregor to lead Dartington from summer 2015
30 March 2014
MacGregor has been announced as the artistic director of the Dartington
International Summer School from 2015, initially on a three-year contract.
take over from Nicholas Daniel after this year’s summer school, Daniel having
been taken on with a one-year contract, as
announced last year.
'Joanna has been recruited to help build on the successes of the summer school, develop
new approaches with other arts activities at Dartington and restore the four
week format,’ read a statement.
2014 summer school will be only three weeks long, as opposed to the
long-established five-week model, a change made ‘due to reduced demand for the
2013 summer school’ according to a Dartington spokesperson. With strong sales
this year, however, the plan is to step up to four weeks in 2015.
was artistic director of the Bath International Music Festival from 2006 to
2012 and is head of piano at the Royal Academy of Music. She was made a
professor of the University of London in autumn 2013 ‘in recognition of her
outstanding contribution both to the Academy and to international musical
has a reputation for bringing amateurs and professional musicians together and
is well-known for attracting artists of international calibre to work as
tutors. Before Daniel, directors were the composer John Woolrich, Gavin
Henderson, Peter Maxwell Davies and William Glock.
in 2014 include pianists Anna Tilbrook, Christian Blackshaw, Katya Apekisheva
and Tom Poster, soprano Emma Kirkby, conductor Sian Edwards, viol consort
Fretwork, violist Philip Dukes, and composers Colin Matthews and John Woolrich.
said of her appointment: ‘Having been involved with the summer school for many
years I am delighted to take on this exciting role and to have the opportunity
to shape the future of this wonderful celebration of music and creativity.’
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