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Baroness Morgan accuses Tories of ousting non-Conservative supporters

4 February 2014

Baroness Sally Morgan  has hit back at the Conservatives following the announcement that Michael Gove will not be renewing her term as head of Ofsted. Her current term, which was due to end this month, will be extended to the autumn while a successor is found, but she will not be given a second spell. 

Lady Morgan, a Labour peer, said her removal was part of a pattern of non-Conservative supporters on bodies like the Arts Council and Charity Commission being replaced by Tories. 

‘I am the latest of a fairly long list of people now who are non-Conservative supporters who are not being re-appointed. I think there is absolutely a pattern. It's extremely worrying,’ she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. 

‘One of the really important things about public appointments is that they are made on the basis of merit and they are seen to be transparently made. I think there is something going on in the centre that's mitigating against that. 

‘I think there is an absolutely determined effort from No 10 that Conservative supporters will be appointed to public bodies. I think that is an issue for the Cabinet Secretary and the Cabinet Office to look at. 

‘It has been a quiet, quiet drip. I'm not talking about Labour people being replaced, I'm talking about non-Conservative supporters being replaced by Conservative supporters. 

‘There is a lot of concern about it. Often they are people who have been working really well with their organisations and, indeed, with their host departments, so I do think this is coming from No 10. I don't think it is coming from individual departments.’ 

Mr Gove said: ‘I would like to record my thanks to Sally Morgan for her tremendous contribution to the work of Ofsted. She has brought great knowledge and insight, leading the board strongly through a period of significant change.’

Major new composition resources from SaM

30 January 2014

Following recent scrutiny from Ofsted of the effectiveness of hubs, low expectations in music and the ‘lack of rigour’ in the curriculum, Sound and Music is publishing the results of an action research project, which it says has ‘pinpointed the key elements to teaching composition through bringing together research teams of composers, teachers and researchers in classroom settings’.

Music Teacher magazine will be publishing a series of articles from big-name composers and teachers with resources on how to use the approach in the classroom. 

‘The talent of many young British composers is being lost as we are simply not effective enough in spotting and growing the next generation and the ones losing out are our young people,’ says Sound and Music chairman John Knell. ‘Just like instrumentalists, singers, designers, or writers, composers need their talents to be challenged, supported, trained and developed. They need a progressive approach over time to train their capacity to generate original musical ideas which are then developed and explored creatively – skills incidentally which a growing body of evidence indicates can directly enhance wider social and creative thinking skills, and therefore broader school improvement too.

'We have to transform the desiccated musical experience on offer in too many of our schools. How can we make a change?

'Today, we are publishing the results of our action research project Listen Imagine Compose, (executive summary here, project page here) which uniquely has pinpointed the key elements to teaching composition through bringing together research teams of composers, teachers and researchers in classroom settings.

'Listen Imagine Compose is revolutionary in that it takes apart the act of composition itself, in ways that can be applied in the classroom. It gives teachers the tools and confidence to enjoy and explore their own musical creativity as they better support that of their students. It is genuinely progressive, encouraging pupils not only to have ideas but then to develop them into a coherent musical whole, and then reflect and critique the outcome. It helps young people find a compositional voice and creative self-confidence through practical and enjoyable work.'

The approach of Listen Imagine Compose, which was developed and delivered in partnership with Birmingham City University and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, has generated some compelling evidence:

  • Pupils who undertook the project became better at composing as a result of it
  • Taking apart the process of composition – generating what can be a very simple idea, then developing and reflecting upon it – is not only very effective and rewarding for pupils and teachers. It also takes pupils very rapidly towards higher order thinking. This points to the need for further research to be undertaken around the links between composing and creative thinking.
  • Teachers, composers and musicians (or, put another way, hubs and schools) can work together with pupils for more sustained progression. When these different skills are brought together in delivering music education, increased quality of pupil learning results.

Knell added: 'We are excited about these findings and future possibilities, and we will do all we can to ensure that Listen, Imagine Compose plays a full role in enhancing the quality of music teaching in all our schools, strengthening the impact of composition on broader school achievement. It’s time to compose a brighter score for music education.'



TV show seeks primary school in need of music support

30 January 2014

Jamie Oliver's TV production company Fresh One is calling for headteachers and teachers who struggle to find enough resources for ther music provision to get in touch about a 'pioneering music scheme'. 
The call from the company reads: 'We are looking to offer music tuition to a whole year group (possibly both Years 4 and 5) and provide tuition, support and instruments to the students and teachers free of charge. Backed up by substantial evidence that playing an instrument can enrich the lives of children and their communities, raise their academic attainment and attendance, as well as increase their confidence and aspiration levels, the project will be sustained and have a continuing legacy.
'We are keen to speak to a school that would really benefit from this project. We'd love to help where instrument resources are scarce and teacher availability/confidence is also part of the challenge. Can we halp you include music as part of a holistic curriculum?'
Interested parties should get in touch with Vivienne Perry on 0203 375 5159 or at Vivienne.perry@freshone.tv. 

Sistema Secures EU Funding for Exchange Programme

29 January 2014

The Culture Programme of the European Union has committed to funding of €200,000 for an exchange programme between Sistema-inspired initiatives on both sides of the Atlantic.


Sistema-inspired Music Education and Exchange with Canada (SMEEC) will see 2,000 young musicians and tutors working and performing together during 2014 and 2015 in England, Italy and Canada.


Young musicians aged from nine to 16 will jointly rehearse and give concerts with the choirs and orchestras of similar programmes in other countries. There will be up to 50 concerts, including two large scale international ensemble concerts. There are also plans to commission a new work for children’s ensembles.

In addition to providing learning, performing and travelling opportunities for disadvantaged young musicians, it is hoped that the exchange programme will provide opportunities for teachers to share knowledge, research and best practice.

SMEEC is coordinated by Sistema England working with Sistema Italia in Italy, The Leading Note Foundation and Sistema Toronto in Canada, and European Mozart Ways and Go-operate in Austria.

Richard Hallam of Sistema England said: ‘The high profile and scale of these performances will inspire the young musicians and their peers, and will help to raise the expectations of the children involved, and their families, teachers and communities.’

David Visentin, executive and artistic director of Sistema Toronto added: ‘SMEEC will also provide opportunities for media exposure and additional funding through consolidating and building on the success of the individual projects, thus securing a sustainable legacy.’

Menuhin Competition announces programme for 2014

17 January 2014

The programme for the 2014 Menuhin Competition has been announced. Founded by Yehudi Menuhin in 1983, the competition is for violinists under the age of 22. This year’s competition takes place in Austin, Texas from 21 February to 2 March.


The Menuhin Competition has learning as its ethos, and despite being at its heart a competitive event, it aims to promote musical and cultural exchange between contestants. All selected candidates are invited to remain for the duration of the competition and continue to take advantage of concerts, masterclasses, events and friendships with other musicians, even if they have not progressed to the next round.


Texas will be home turf for many candidates as Americans comprise the biggest single country represented, with 40% of selected competitors coming from the US. Asia is also well represented, with the bulk of remaining competitors coming from Korea, China and Japan. The youngest competitor will be 11-year-old American Yesong Sophie Lee, who says:  ‘I am thrilled to meet famous violinists from all over the world and meet new friends. I feel very honoured to play in the most famous competition in the world. I will enjoy once in a lifetime experience.’

All rounds, concerts and masterclasses are open to the public.


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