On the 21st September Ofsted published a Music subject report – Striking the Right Note – looking at how music is being taught in England’s schools. The report draws on evidence from subject visits to 50 schools – 25 primary and 25 secondary – from across England.
This summary of the report has been commissioned by Music Mark and written by Independent Music Education consultant Gary Griffiths. It is nicely detailed and broken down into clearly labelled sections including three pages devoted specifically to Music in primary schools.
Some interesting findings from the primary section of the report include –
Few other subjects are so dependent on flexible support from the school and its systems in order to flourish.
There was a significant disparity in the range and quality of extra-curricular opportunities however around half of schools visited had strong extra-curricular offers, which were valued and seen as promoting pupils’ wider musical development.
Many school leaders have reduced subsidies for instrumental lessons in recent years; others had stopped providing. Around half of the primary schools visited did not currently offer instrumental or vocal lessons.
Most leaders were realistic about their teachers’ subject expertise. Many however had no clear plans for addressing weaknesses, particularly where the school bought in a scheme of work. Some leaders were unsure where to find support.
The most effective teaching was characterised by a narrow range of instrument choices and allowing pupils to develop fine motor skills. In weaker practice, pupils had shallow encounters with too many instruments or insufficient practice time.
A few schools (generally those whose staff had significant musical expertise or worked closely with their Music Education Hub) had a clear understanding of what pupils should be able to do as a result of following the curriculum.
Remember that for support with your Music curriculum please contact Leeds Music Education Partnership, the Music Hub for Leeds, led by ArtForms. Last year LMEP engaged with 96% of the schools in Leeds. One form that this can take is as a one to one curriculum reviews to primary schools to help improve the delivery of Music across the city.
It is also worth noting that schools who have been awarded LMEP Music Champion status are entitled to free Music Mark membership from where you can access all sorts of CPD and resources free of charge. These include the new School Music Development Plan templates. Email LMEP.ArtForms@leeds.gov.uk for more information.
Author: Sam Mercer, Music Curriculum Support Manager, ArtForms