National Association of Music Educators (NAME)
Ofsted provides essential reading for all Music Educators and School Leaders
NAME welcomes Ofsted's report on music education because it places music - musical sound - firmly at the heart of high quality music education.
Through the report itself, and through the six films that accompany it, Ofsted has provided a vivid picture of what good and outstanding music education looks like. There is stark evidence that this picture is not sufficiently widespread in the experience of children and young people. However, the report's seven recommendations provide clear guidance on how all those involved in music education, including headteachers, can work together to reduce inequality of provision and improve the quality.
Ofsted's report, Music in schools: wider still, and wider, presents inspection findings that suggest that music is too often not the focus of music lessons. Where music education was judged to be good or outstanding (in approximately one third of the primary and second schools visited), the quality of the pupils' music-making was the focus of the teaching. With a foundation of good-quality singing and aural development, and supported with effective use of technology, pupils were able to make progress in music because they spent most of their time doing music. Where music education was judged inadequate (in approximately one fifth of the schools) it was often because pupils had insufficient experience of music. Reasons for this included too much time in music lessons being spent on non-musical activities (including overly-complex assessment) and insufficient curriculum time being allocated to music.
In making both its judgements and its recommendations, Ofsted is addressing all those involved in a pupil’s music education. The report draws on evidence from curriculum music lessons, whole-class instrumental teaching, small-group and individual instrumental teaching and extra-curricular provision. The first six recommendations are addressed jointly to 'Schools, all other funded providers of music education, and providers of Continuing Professional Development' (the seventh to the Department for Education). In taking this approach, Ofsted recognises the complex role that schools play in providing music education and the importance of their active participation in the new Music Education Hubs. It also recognises the vital role played by headteachers, both in challenging the quality of provision but also in creating an environment in which their music staff are able to teach musically.
The six films accompanying the report provide musical exemplification of the good practice that Ofsted describes. Based in a range of very different schools, the films show music being taught through the medium of music. Whilst they don’t provide a complete picture of music education (there is relatively little composition work shown, for example), taken together, they offer valuable modelling of musical teaching and an insight into Ofsted’s expectations of music teachers.
Ofsted has recognised the contribution made by the NAME both to the effective advocacy for music education and to the continuing professional development of teachers. Over the coming months, NAME will be working through its members, and with our colleagues in the Federation of Music Services, to support music educators as they engage with the recommendations made in this report. NAME’s National Conference on 5th and 6th October 2012 will play an important part in this work.
James Garnett, Chair of NAME, said:
'This report has wide-ranging implications for the way that music is taught and for the training and development of music teachers. It empowers music teachers by stating unequivocally that music teaching must be musical. Music cannot be taught and assessed in the same way as English or maths if children and young people are to engage with music and make progress in music.
'As schools are being asked to take on more responsibility for the training of teachers, it is vital that music teachers are encouraged to recognise what it is that they, uniquely, bring to the curriculum. Not only will this have an impact on their current pupils, but increasingly the quality of music education in schools will influence the experience of future generations of pupils through the training of new teachers.'