The place of music in the national curriculum – Fabia
OFSTED Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman’s (2017) arts speech focuses on the lack of understanding behind the national curriculum and the neglect schools are facing with regards to implementing it.
Receiving knowledge is a measure of making progress, however the lines for this are blurred as schools are focusing mainly on results, rather than on maintaining sight of pupils. Since the introduction of the new national curriculum in 2014 (slimmed down version) it could be argued that GCSEs are now purely a memory test, and don’t always mean full understanding and knowledge, despite the aim being to increase a “rich foundation of knowledge”. As a result of inspections, focus has been readjusted. Many secondary schools have reduced Key Stage 3 to two years, meaning options are decided earlier and there is even less access to the arts, although the content included in the exams remains aimed for a two year course. Despite the removal of Progress 8, the ability to be flexible for those who need it has lessened.
Moreover, there has been a massive focus on test results and league tables with primary schools, due to a hugely narrowed curriculum. Testing has become the curriculum. In conclusion learning must take precedence over levels of outcomes but this does not seem to be at the forefront of educators priorities. With the help of the Government and Ofsted, the focus needs to shift back to giving equal opportunities and implementing the correct curriculum alongside pupil care.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb’s ‘Why good-quality music education matters’ speech in London (2016) demonstrates his personal admiration for music as a subject. The arts is a topic of discussion as something which needs to be discussed when recognising the lack of opportunities for those less fortunate. One example is the Classical 100 app, which is promoting music in primary schools, offering background and childhood music education.
Gibb states how there are measures put in place to counteract the decline of music and its importance. The increase in EBACC subjects is mostly to blame for the decline in uptake of the arts. Schools are focussing on offering a core academic curriculum, despite Gibb’s arguing that music itself should be seen as an academic subject (with the addition of notation and an area of study to decrease the gap between GCSE and A level). Key stage 3 is setting up children with a good academic and practical background should they want to take it up for GCSE. Pupil premium is allowing those in key stage two further access to the arts, which could increase the intake towards GCSE.
Furthermore, the addition of music hubs are allowing more pupils with less access to the arts to try and discover what it is like. County-wide ensembles are also looking to signpost those most talented who wouldn’t necessarily get the opportunity due to financial or support issues. In conclusion Gibb’s speech, despite being predominantly London biased, explains how projects are being implemented to widen access to the arts.
Spielman, A., (2017), https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/hmcis-commentary-october-2017
Gibb, N., (2016) Why good-quality music education matters, https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/nick-gibb-why-good-quality-music-education-matters
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