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ISM launches cross-sector 'Bacc for the Future' campaign

15 October 2012, Rhian Morgan

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) is calling on the government to include music and other creative and cultural subjects in the new English Baccalaureate (EBacc), which is set to replace GCSEs from 2017.

As the ISM launched its cross-sector campaign, entitled Bacc for the Future, it said 'a sixth pillar of creative subjects', including music and design and technology, must be part of the new qualification.
The ISM wants the Education Select Committee to hold an inquiry into the lack of creative subjects in the EBacc, and a petition has been set up at The new qualification requires pupils to have achieved a certificate in five subject areas: maths, English, sciences, languages and humanities (the latter currently defined as history or geography).

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the ISM, said: 'What we need is GCSE reform that is fit for our economy, and the current proposals are not. We need to work together to ensure that we do not forget the lessons of the Olympics or the economic centrality of the creative industries.'

An ISM-commissioned YouGov poll has shown that the public overwhelmingly supports the aims of the campaign, with 88% saying music and other creative subjects are important to a child’s education. An earlier survey revealed that 60% of music teachers, from a survey of 500, believe that the EBacc league table has had a harmful impact on music education in schools. Figures from the Joint Council for Qualifications showed almost a 4% drop in GCSE music candidates between 2011 and 2012.

Many musicians have already expressed their concern at the likely impact of the EBacc on music. Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber said: 'The absence of creative subjects from the EBacc makes no sense at all. Creativity is vital to every child and it is also essential to our economy.'

The Schools Music Association says many musicians working with secondary schools are 'concerned that the latest government proposals will effectively mean the end of the teaching of creative subjects'. Dr James Garnett, past chair of the National Association of Music Educators, is also urging that the planned changes protect a rounded secondary school education which includes the practical study of music.

Ronan O'Hora, head of keyboard at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, said he thought it 'quite incomprehensible that under the proposed plans the teaching of music is likely to disappear from secondary schools at a time when its importance in aiding and developing lateral thinking and creative problem-solving is more widely recognised than ever'.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said the EBacc would still leave plenty of time for non-core subjects: 'We have put music on a much firmer footing than it has been - we have protected core music funding and a music module is being introduced for trainee primary school teachers.'

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