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Latest News

'Friday Afternoons' returns!

15 May 2014

Yesterday saw the launch of this year’s ‘Friday Afternoons’ project, following the enormous success of last year’s initiative to mark the centenary of Benjamin Britten.

Aldeburgh Music has announced that Friday 28 November 2014 will see the culmination of this year’s scheme. Last year over 67,000 young people joined together in song across 12 time zones and four different continents. This year nine composers have been commissioned to produce a new Friday Afternoons songbook, and resources are now available on the Friday Afternoons website.

To find out more about the project and to sign up, click here.

Sign up for 'Ten Pieces' initiative

14 May 2014

An exciting new initiative is to be launched over the next academic year in primary schools across the country. BBC Learning and the BBC Performing Groups are leading the project, which aims to introduce a generation of children to a range of classical music through ten pieces.

Following the project’s launch on 6 October there will be a week of free nationwide cinema screenings for schools of a new cinematic film introducing the ten pieces of classical music. The pieces have been specially selected for their potential to inspire creativity. Following the launch, children will spend several weeks creating their own responses to the music through composition, dance, art or animation.

The BBC will be working with music services and hubs across the UK. These organisations will run workshops and activities with schools to help children to develop their creative responses. Ten Pieces will culminate with a celebration of the children's work in July 2015.

Schools can sign up to take part in this project via the Ten Pieces website. The ten pieces of classical music will be announced this summer.

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. 

For more information and to see the top 20 countries, click here.

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.

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