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Avert a disaster for children’s access to primary music
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Tim Lund


Posts: 255
Joined: Apr 2008
Post: #1
07-04-2011 10:56 AM

(Apologies for the cross posting with Sydenham Town Forum)

Someone from my allotments forwarded me the group email asking me and others to campaign against current proposals to remove music from the National Curriculum - see below.

It's certainly something I believe in, and as my fellow plot holder himself wrote:

Quote:
music is one of the few subjects that usually demands that students work together, it is relational and socially cohesive, as well as providing an emotional language that reaches a deeper level that many other art forms rarely attain.


Of course it raises questions about why music should be a priority, but I'm not going to digress on this here ...

Member of National Association of Music Educators wrote:

Quote:
I hope you are very well and please excuse the group email. I'm fairly new to the idea of email campaigning but I feel very strongly about communicating the importance of the arts in education so I'm giving this a go!

Did you know that the government is currently consulting on which subjects should be compulsory in our schools? The deadline for making your views known is 14th April! As things stand it is highly likely that music will be one of the subjects dropped from the National Curriculum.

If you would like all children to have an entitlement to music education then please visit 38 Degrees campaign site by clicking on this link: Keep a broad national curriculum for all children inclusive of the arts http://uservoice.com/a/fvJhj

The National Association of Music Educators has drafted a response to the government consultation that you could endorse by using at as a basis for your submission to the government consultation.

NAME response:

The government consultation:

The Times Ed on Friday reported that no Conservative MPs questioned thought that music should remain in the National Curriculum and only 1 in ten Labour MPs thought it should remain. We have very little time left to make our case. Please make sure that any music teachers or parents passionate about music education that you know are aware of the 14th April deadline for letting the government know how they feel. Anyone can submit their views by clicking on the consultation link above.

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michael


Posts: 3,205
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #2
07-04-2011 11:52 AM

I don't know about the rights and wrongs of inclusion in the national curriculum, I had thought that teachers wanted more flexibility rather than ridgid guidance for all subjects, but maybe things have moved on in the last 10 years.

But the poll and the report of the findings are rather simplistic. Here are the details from TES http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6075441

Quote:
The subject [music] was the least popular when MPs were asked to choose up to five, from a list of nine, that should be included alongside a core of maths, English and science.


I don't know if the consultation means that the four least popular will be dropped (I think an AV system would be fairer for such a decision), but it is worth looking at the list:
PE, art and design, citizenship, design and technology, geography, history, ICT, modern foreign languages, music

PE is going to be compulsory anyway, so I'm not sure why that would be included. I hope that most MPs put in their top five - history, ICT, modern foreign languages. That's three of them covered - two more to go, and remember one of those will be PE and I hope most MPs would know that. So you have a choice of your final option:
art and design, citizenship, design and technology, geography, music
I would probably pick geography as the only other compulsory option for the national curriculum, but perhaps music is more important than knowing that East Anglia is not actually a foreign country.

Oh well, I just hope that music teaching has improved since I went to school, when three pupils per electric keyboard for an hour was regarded as a lesson.

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Tim Lund


Posts: 255
Joined: Apr 2008
Post: #3
07-04-2011 12:49 PM

OK Michael - you tempt me to digress.

I think we can all tell that this is a fairly hopeless case, once it is put the way you do put it - and this is how it generally will be put.

The fact is that music education just doesn't fit into regular school teaching - as your characterisation of your school music lessons illustrates. As you and some other readers of this Forum will know, my own children were educated in the independent sector, and additionally had all the nice middle-class individual instrumental music lessons that could be asked for. And when you think about it, such individual education is radically different from normal class learning, because there are no constraints other than their own on how fast a pupil learns. So if they are able and hard-working, kids can make amazing progress; whatever happens, they don't get bored, because if they do, they drop out. So far, so elitist - although it would be nice if such opportunities were open to kids whose parents were not so well off.

And of course this doesn't just apply to classical music - pop, rock etc. require a similar level of skills.

But music is also inherently co-operative, and while individual excellence is important, however good you are, you have to listen to the other people you are playing with. In this, I guess it's like football and other team sports, but overall less competitive. As such, I think it has a valuable place in a general education, and the process whereby music education has become so much the preserve of the already advantaged disturbs me greatly.

The only solution, I think, would be to reduce the scope of the National Curriculum to focus more on those general skills which allow people to take an active role in society - e.g. ability to communicate and calculate accurately - so leaving schools more scope to decide themselves how they educate kids for the remainder of the time available. It's what independent schools, to some extent, are able to do, and why they attract parents, however crazy the fees.

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Perryman


Posts: 809
Joined: Dec 2006
Post: #4
07-04-2011 01:16 PM

The English Baccalaureate has made this a bit redundant surely?

Quote:
Schools in England are now being measured according to how many pupils achieve grades A*-C in five core subjects - maths, English, two science qualifications, a foreign language and either history or geography.


If this is how we are going to judge if children have passed KS4, then surely these are the core subjects that should be taught to all?

If we need to add more core subjects, then they should be added to this Baccalaureate list of subjects[/quote].

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Tim Lund


Posts: 255
Joined: Apr 2008
Post: #5
07-04-2011 01:49 PM

Perryman:

Where was that quote from? I googled "English Baccalaureate" and found this, which seems just a proposal. In any case, I guess I'd argue against adding requirements, and for space for schools and their teachers to choose.

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michael


Posts: 3,205
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #6
07-04-2011 02:13 PM

Tim,
I don't understand where you are coming from.

Quote:
It's [music teaching as part of the national curriculum] certainly something I believe in


I don't think this can be true when you chose to opt out of state education and the national curriculum for your children. You demonstrate by your actions that the national curriculum is not something you support. Or do you only support it for other peoples' children?

Quote:
The only solution, I think, would be to reduce the scope of the National Curriculum to focus more on those general skills

Which you presumably believe should still include music but not ICT maybe.

Perhaps we should leave education policy to those with first hand experience of the English state sector rather than the Independent sector or the Scottish system (I think that rules out most of our MPs).

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Tim Lund


Posts: 255
Joined: Apr 2008
Post: #7
07-04-2011 02:56 PM

Michael

Good questions. I agree that sending my children to independent schools doesn't support the National Curriculum, but nor does it oppose it. My position, I guess, is that if we are to have an exhaustive National Curriculum, it should include music, but I'd prefer a less exhaustive one - and if we did have one, it might have saved me and others a fair bit of money, and resulted in greater social cohesion.

Re ICT vs. music - that raises a whole bunch of other questions around the problem what what exactly should be taught under ICT is difficult to specify, because the subject changes so fast. I did once do some voluntary work in this area, and encountered the ECDL - European Computer Driving Licence - whose contents felt to me as if they had been dictated by Microsoft to give the impression that theirs was the only way to do things. Music, by contrast, has a long, well established tradition of education, of which it will be sad to lose any more. Talk to singing teachers about how the sol-fa system has been lost. It is hard to appreciate it if you're not at least a bit familiar with the area.

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Tim Lund


Posts: 255
Joined: Apr 2008
Post: #8
07-04-2011 02:58 PM

Can someone help me here? How do I edit posts such as this last one, where I hit Post Reply before reading it through?

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roz


Posts: 1,790
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #9
07-04-2011 05:50 PM

I think this will be a disaster if it means that children won't get access to even the most basic of recorder lessons, or be able to sit listening to classical music in lessons. My own primary school was extremely basic with a lot of very poor children in bad housing. We were still taught recorder when we were about 7/8. We played in school concerts ( badly I know) along to a teacher playing the piano but it was educational from the perspective of teamwork, learning to focus and practice, and just to experience the joy of making and listening to music, something all children love to do.
We often sat in class being played classical pieces with the teacher asking us to shut our eyes and imagine what was happening.
I can't believe therefore that music can be so off the agenda. Whoever gave MP's that power to decide?
It is so short sighted. I do accept that sometimes you can't fit everything in to a short school day but do hope that some innovative teachers decide otherwise with some music lessons in the lunch hour or provided as after school events, even if its for a low cost.

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Tim Lund


Posts: 255
Joined: Apr 2008
Post: #10
07-04-2011 06:58 PM

Roz:

When I wrote that about the sol-fa system, I was almost thinking of you, since I was told about it by a strongly left-wing, Scottish working class friend, many years ago.

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Tim Lund


Posts: 255
Joined: Apr 2008
Post: #11
07-04-2011 07:08 PM

Here's a relevant link, which should inspire not just any Scots reading this ForumSmile

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Perryman


Posts: 809
Joined: Dec 2006
Post: #12
07-04-2011 07:34 PM

Tim
1-in-6-get-bac
The english baccalaureate is here already for state secondary schools - and the latest league tables record how many pupils achieve this.
table

Amusingly many of the private schools are bottom of these tables as few of the children take the standard GSCE Maths exam, but take the harder non standard IGCSE Maths instead (which is meant to be as tough as 'O' Level Maths).

And no I would not want to see music included in this, as the system would be prejudiced against working class children whose parents cannot afford expensive private lessons and the instruments.

PS It would be nice if all all those passing the baccalaureate were given full grants/scholarships at university as a reward.

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roz


Posts: 1,790
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #13
07-04-2011 08:02 PM

I'm neither Scottish nor working class. Happy to be your friend though!

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