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EBacc harming music in schools, musicians tell government

25 May 2011

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) continues to lobby government against the current English Baccalaureate (EBacc) policy. The EBacc ranks schools by attainment across a narrow selection of subjects which excludes, among others, music. The ISM believes that the effects of this policy are already being seen in schools and that young people in England may soon find it difficult or even impossible to study music at GCSE level.

In a letter to Nick Gibb MP, schools minister, and the Education Select Committee, the ISM’s chief executive Deborah Annetts said: ‘Fifty-six per cent of our members in a position to comment have already noticed music being squeezed out of their schools.’

The ISM also drew attention to Cambridge University entry guidelines which put music among the highest subject rankings, and Darren Henley's reccomendation for music to be included in the EBacc. Deborah Annetts added: ‘Without music GCSE being given the weighting it deserves, our cultural and creative economy will be put at risk, and young people who want to be involved in the music sector will have their efforts hampered.’

In a parliamentary written response on the subject Nick Gibb commented that: ‘The EBacc is not intended as a list of the only valuable or rigorous subjects. We recognise the importance of music which is why we commissioned Darren Henley's review of music education. We will respond to his recommendations with a new national plan for music education in the summer.’

Findings from the Education Select Committee’s inquiry into the EBacc are yet to be presented.

Call for anecdotal evidence

20 May 2011

Jonathan Savage, MT contributor and reader in education at the Institute of Education, Manchester Metropolitan University, is collecting evidence of current secondary music provision at Key Stage 3 and 4. In particular, he hopes to present an overview of how music teaching has been affected by recent changes in education, such as the English Baccalaureate. Should any readers feel willing to contribute to this research you can view request for stories here and either respond via the teachingmusic.org.uk forum or to Jonathan Savage directly at j.savage@mmu.ac.uk.
It is hoped that by gathering accurate anecdotal evidence of the changing landscape of music in our schools, and publishing these short stories online, and anonymously if preferred, Savage can provide a platform for music teachers to be heard.

You can read the stories that have been collected so far at jsavage.org.uk.

NAME publishes guidelines

20 May 2011

The National Association of Music Education (NAME) has published guidance materials to support Assessing Pupils’ Progress (APP) under the current national curriculum. Written by Kevin Rogers, county inspector for music in Hampshire, on the basis of previous QCDA research for APP in the foundation subjects, and trialled by current teachers, these materials give secondary music teachers a national framework for assessing a student’s progress against essential aspects of musical learning within the national curriculum. The document is available free from NAME’s website.

Mayor of London launches new fund for music education

16 May 2011

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, has launched a new music charity, which aims to raise £2m by March 2012 and boost music education for children in London.

The charity, called The Mayor of London’s Fund for Young Musicians, will provide children who have significant musical talent and commitment with 'outstanding opportunities'. Four hundred children, aged seven to 11 and across 33 London boroughs, will be awarded music scholarships and will be selected on the basis of commitment, talent and financial need.

The four-year scholarships will provide the selected children with opportunities to progress their music education, with small-group instrumental tuition, access to instruments and Saturday music schools, individual mentoring and regular performances.

There will also be the opportunity for around 10,000 children up to the age of 18 to enhance their music education by working alongside professional musicians. This partnership scheme is an extension of an existing GLA pilot project.

The mayor, who is the founder patron, said: 'Music can transform the lives of young people from all backgrounds, enriching the mind, teaching valuable skills and discipline and importantly, providing a source of invaluable self-expression, personal enjoyment and life enhancing career options. If a young Londoner has a talent for music and the commitment to progress, I want them to be able to do so regardless of their starting point. The new fund will help to make this not just an aspiration but a reality for young musicians who could otherwise be overlooked.'

More information

Sing Up wins prestigious award

11 May 2011

Sing Up has been announced as the winner of this year’s Royal Philharmonic Society Education Award for its work supporting singing in English primary schools. The programme brings opportunities for quality singing to millions of children across the country, and has over 90% of all primary schools involved. The RPS awards jury have urged the government to 'support this work that is the envy of other countries in Europe and across the world, beyond 2012'. Pupils from St Mary’s RC Primary School in London, a Sing Up Platinum Award-winning school, performed at the awards celebrations.

John Gilhooly, Chairman of the Royal Philharmonic Society commented: ‘The Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards are able to respond to the zeitgeist, but prefer to set the agenda. They reward serious, imaginative projects which broaden the understanding and enjoyment of music.’

To mark the occasion Sing Up have put together a special playlist on their Song Bank called Feeling Hot Hot Hot. Take a look here.

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