Monthly Archives: May 2011

A music teacher’s story (38)

Just to let you know that in the restructure of staffing at my school, my TLR has been reduced and the reason I have been given is that there is no provision in the EBacc, and that Music is losing status.

A couple of years ago I had 37 GCSE candidates; I now have 10 in Year 10 and probably the same next year. At Key Stage 3, pupils have music twice in a 2 week timetable. My colleague in the dept will take on a whole school responsibility in September which will result in a reduction of my PPA time, and a variety of non-specialists teaching music.

I somehow think we won’t have a band or a choir next year, not to mention a school production!!!

A music teacher’s story (37)

Our Key Stage 3 hasn’t changed. We will still see the classes for one hour a week.

Our Key Stage 4 on the other hand has. The school has split the year into four bands. The top 2 band of students have to do a language and a humanities. This leaves them no/or one option choice.

The lower two bands have more options but generally speaking these are not the high ability students that are able to achieve A-C in GCSE music. So, to ensure these students achieve we will be entering them for BTec instead. In the long term I worry about the able musicians missing out and not providing a GCSE option. However at least this year we have still ended up with around 30 students in next year’s Year 10, but we don’t know how this will reflect long term if this carries on.

A music teacher’s story (36)

The EBacc has definitely affected our school in terms of Key Stage 4 music – this academic year, for example, several students wanted to opt for Music but were unable to study in the normal school day due to the amount of time taken by ebacc.

They’ve subsequently either had to opt out of music completely, or take it as a Twilight subject. Feeling that we have to provide the Twilight session then impacts on our other extra-curricular provision, as we cannot use those two hours for other activities.

A music teacher’s story (35)

I have recently finished teaching in a school in XXX. The previous teacher had resigned and is not being replaced. Until recently, this school was considered to be an excellent school musically speaking.

The entitlement at KS3 is currently based on a carousel with Drama so pupils get a term and a half of music before switching. Numbers at GCSE were/are good. The current Yr 11 class had 18, the Yr 10 class 19 and approx. 20 pupils in Yr 9 had opted for GCSE before being told 3 weeks ago that it was no longer on offer. As the previous music teacher has been absent for most of the year, it is possible that withdrawing GCSE is to allow the time to be used for the current Yr 10 to ensure results aren’t affected but this seems unlikely.

Apparently there are another three schools in XXX who are withdrawing music as a GCSE option.

A music teacher’s story (34)

We do BTEC music at our school. Currently have approx 15 pupils in Yr 10 and the same for Yr 11. Due to the options this year with pupils having to take History of Geography this has limited the options for the Yr 9′s and so there has only been 6 pupils opt for Music. Because of budget cuts this means that the school won’t run Music for next years Yr 10 due to low numbers.

When speaking to the pupils many have said they would have picked Music as an option but because of the limitations they weren’t able to. Also having to pick between Drama and Music has had a damaging effect on the uptake of both subjects as they are now in the same option column where usually you would get a big crossover of the same pupils doing both subjects.

A music teacher’s story (33)

The hours dedicated to teaching music remain unchanged – we still have one hour a week for KS3 and two a week for KS4. The number of pupils taking Music at KS4 almost doubled this year and, for the first time, we have a KS5 class.

We are losing one member of staff due to whole-school budget cuts. We were very lucky to have three members of specialist staff teaching in every Year 7 lesson but we are now down to two. We were always aware that this was a luxury and the third member of staff was on a temporary contract for this reason.

We are about to gain a ‘Performing Arts Technician’ who will be available to help in the whole-school work we do in the department but is specifically not hired to be a part of classroom music work.

ISM urge Ministers to think again on the EBacc

It’s great to see one of our national music education organisations fighting back against the hastily imposed EBacc. The ISM is reported by the BBC today to have written to Nick Gibb on this matter. You can find the BBC report here and the ISM present their own report here. I’ve written to Deborah Annetts today to make her aware of some of the stories that you have kindly sent in. I’m sure she will find them interesting.

In the meantime, if you haven’t found time to contact your local MP on this matter – what are you waiting for! As I wrote about here, it is a simple job to send them an email and outline your concerns. Please fight for the future of music education in this country.

A music teacher’s story (32)

The school I work at is in its first year as an Academy. We have been given the new timetables already as the current plan is to start the new academic year in June. On the new timetable I have still got the same number of hours at KS 3 and have not heard, at this stage, any suggestion of a reduction in hours for music at KS3 for the more distant future.

Regarding KS4, the school has a policy across the academies that KS4 groups will not be run with less than 14 students. We have had 10 students choose music at KS4 so this looked like it would not run. The principal stepped in, though, and said if we didn’t run music with the students who opted for it this year then it would probably start to disappear from the options so he said he wanted it to run, thankfully this was accepted and we are having music at KS4 for the next academic year. We are running it as all students doing BTEC and those with the ability and interest would also be able to do GCSE. We are now looking at the best way to run this in the time that we have. On this info things look ok for music at here at the moment.

A music teacher’s story (31)

There is no real change here at XXX in terms of hours. They couldn’t reduce them any more anyway as we are already on 1 hour a week on a carousel. KS3 appears to be continuing as normal.

There has been a change in terms of the pathways offered in the option booklet at year 9. Pupils are being asked to choose pathway 1 if they are considered to be academic. This gives them one free choice and then an option between geography and history. This is clearly to address the EBacc. Other pupils are encouraged to take a different pathway that includes 2 free choices. (needless to say that all the creative choices are in the same option block, heaven forbid a kid who is good at music, art and drama could do all three!)

The third pathway involves more vocational courses and functional skills.

My major concern is that we offer the BTec and as the Govt seem to think that these are not ‘real’ qualifications I will be pressured into offering a GCSE which I do not think is right for our learners nor our department in general.

I have also been asked if pupils doing Extra Curricular subjects can be credited to get a single GCSE equivalent and whilst this is fine by me I am aware that there are some pupils not selecting music as an option because they feel they can get a qualification in another way and this is detracting from the quality of the group. The endless production line of qualifications continues!

One positive thing is that they are stopping doing the silly early entry GCSE’s for pupils in Y9, so hopefully our G&T pupils will leave with one decent grade instead of 2 lower grades and a much better general state of mind!

A music teacher’s story (30)

My numbers for GCSE have remained about the same, at the present I haven’t lost any hours of music teaching so no increase/decrease in staffing and I’m being actively encouraged to bring musicians in and take pupils (although mainly KS3) off timetable to work with outside groups and encourage music within our feeder primary schools. The Ebacc hasn’t really affected us at the moment as we have an intake skewed towards the lower ability. They did change the option blocks slightly though to allow for it, but it hasn’t really affected my numbers.