Music Education Hub funding announced for 2015/16

In what is a busy news day for music education, the next round of funding for the music education hubs has been announced by Arts Council England. The full details, including a spreadsheet of funding for each music education hub, can be found here.

The announcement is matched with a new report from ACE called ‘Ensuring Quality‘. This will be essential reading for all leaders of music education hubs.

We were also pleased to see that the Greater Manchester Music Hub is named checked by ACE in terms of the work they have done in developing their youth ensembles.

New A & AS Level and GCSE Music subject content announced today

The Government have released the new GCSE Music subject content today. The link to the guidance is here or you can download the Music .pdf file here.

The AS and A Level Music subject content has also been released. Details from here and the specific file can be downloaded here.

It will be interesting to hear what teachers make of these guidelines. The general consensus in the music education community to this point is that they are going to be intensely problematic. The preoccupation with staff notation and Western Classical music (only between the years of 1650 and 1910) both remain in the formal guidance. Time will tell.

Additionally, the Government have published their equality and impact study here, and their general response to the ‘reform’ process here.

A lower threshold for exclusion requires firm leadership from Governors

The Government have lowered the threshold for the exclusion of students from schools. New statutory guidance has come under fire from lawyers and others.  They argue that the new definition, which allows a headteacher to remove a child from class if their conduct is deemed detrimental to the education or welfare of others in the class, will result in more permanent exclusions. The previous threshold required schools to establish that serious harm was being caused to others.

Rachel Knowles, a solicitor at Just for Kids Law who has been reported in The Guardian today, said: “The previous guidance had a page of advice that emphasised that exclusion was a matter of last resort. That phrase has been removed from the new guidance. The Department for Education says it’s just a few clarifications but it’s totally and radically altering the test. I would expect that it will result in many more permanent exclusions.”

One of my roles as a school governor was to manage the pupil exclusion committee. Speaking from experience, I can state categorically that headteachers can and do try and remove students from their schools with, on occasions, scanty evidence and without due consideration to the needs of the individual child first and foremost. School governors have always had a role to play in challenging the evidence collated by the headteacher and presented to these committees. Too often, I’m sad to say, governors merely rubber-stamp decisions made elsewhere within these hearings. Like others, I am also worried that the reduction in the barrier for permanent exclusion will allow for headteachers to use permanent exclusion too readily and not consider the needs of the individual child as their first priority.

Children excluded from school face all kinds of difficulties. Passing these children around the educational system does no one any favours. Schools need to be encouraged to commit to these children and their associated needs and not be given a half-open door to pass them and their educational needs onto others.

UPDATED 9/1/15: ITT students to be withdrawn from the National Student Survey

9/1/15: I’m pleased to announce that this decision has been reversed and these students will be included in this year’s NSS. However, the chaotic decisions that lay behind this debacle are indicative of this Government’s careless handling of ITE in general. 

The Times Higher Education Supplement are reporting today that teacher training students are to be removed from the Government’s National Student Survey with immediate effect. This unheralded announcement comes within a few days of the commencement of the 2015 survey.

One vice-chancellor (who didn’t want to be named - why not?), said that “this is an insult to each and every”  ITT student and called it a “disgrace”. I agree with this entirely.

I also agree with Pam Tatlow who said that ““One can only assume that NCTL would prefer prospective trainees not to be informed by evidence of the high satisfaction rates linked with university teacher training courses”.

The Chair of TEAG, John Cater, was also disappointed, stating that “it contradicts government policy since 2005 and is in conflict with the current administration’s firm commitment to ensure that a full range of empirical evidence is available to students and trainees entering programmes of study”.

Labour will return schools to a ‘broad and balanced curriculum’

I was pleasantly surprised by Tristam Hunt’s recent article in The Observer. In particular, I was pleased to see the phrase ‘broad and balanced curriculum’ making a return. Here’s the relevant paragraph:

Ofsted has to move beyond box-ticking and data-dependence. Too much teacher workload is the product of preparing for an inspection. Yes, Ofsted must confront mediocrity, but it must also start to allow heads the space to innovate and develop a richer criterion of school achievement. So it’s time for greater stability in the inspection framework, more consistency between inspectors and an end to any prescribed system of teaching. And, under a Labour government, Ofsted would inspect on a “broad and balanced curriculum”, so you cannot be Outstanding if you have stripped out the drama, music and sport from the school day.

There has been a lot of stripping going on recently (in curriculum matters, that is) and the notion of a broad and balanced curriculum is in severe danger of being lost in many schools. Regular readers of this blog will remember how I charted the decline of music, for example, in many schools over recent years since the Tories came to power. For me, this notion is central to the construction of a full and meaningful curriculum experience for students (whether in primary or secondary school). Drama, music and sport are too important to become ‘extra-curricular’. They have to be part of every child’s educational experience within the curriculum (the ‘broad’ bit) and developed in a way that is harmoniously conducive with other subject areas (the ‘balanced’ bit).

Whilst I’ve got mixed feelings about any political party using OFSTED as a threat to facilitate change, such a clear statement about what constitutes ‘outstanding’ in respect of the curriculum itself is to be welcomed in my opinion.

Funding for music education hubs for 2015/16 announced

Following on from the announcement yesterday that Darren Henley is to take control of Arts Council England, funding for music education hubs was announced today for the period from 2015 – 16. This will follow the existing formula, together with a distribution of an additional £17m (the precise way in which this will be distributed is to be confirmed at a later date, although I have heard rumours that a significant percentage of this will support new or innovative approaches to music education – whatever that means).

I’m not sure if Henley’s new post and this announcement are linked in any way, but it is good news nonetheless. Here’s the full ACE announcement made today:

ace_funding

Darren Henley takes over as Chief Executive of Arts Council England

henleyDarren Henley has been appointed as chief executive of Arts Council England, replacing Alan Davey who recently took over a new position as controller of Radio 3.

Darren Henley is well known to those of us working in music education having led the Government’s review into music education which resulted in the establishment of the National Plan for Music Education. He also conducted a similar review into the provision of arts education.

Darren takes over control of Arts Council England at a difficult time. Many commentators are predicting further significant cuts in their budget whoever comes to power in next year’s general election. Arts Council England has already lost around a third of its total Government funding and has had to implement a 50% reduction in administration costs over the last few years.

The position of music education hubs is also precarious. There is no news of precise funding levels for the period from April 2015 onwards despite there being a commitment to additional funding. Arts Council England are demanding new budgets from every music education hub in early January despite hubs not knowing what their allocated funding is. This is clearly ridiculous.

However, it is important to remember that the funding for music education hubs does not come from the Arts Council directly. It is funding that is paid by the DfE to the Arts Council. My understanding is that the Arts Council has still to receive notification from the DfE about the funding being made available for hubs despite their constant requests for clarification and further information.

Looking further forwards, there is no additional information for any funding for music education hubs from April 2016 despite the National Plan for Music Education covering the period to 2020.

Many music education hubs are in a fragile state. My understanding is that many are facing yearly deficits and having to access funding from their reserves as Local Authority and other sources of funding are diminishing. The political and financial uncertainty caused by all of this is worrying. It really is a shoddy way to run music education in this country. Let’s hope that Darren’s appointment to this new role will sharpen up the relationship between ACE and the DfE and lead to a period of more stability where hubs can plan confidently and effectively for the future of music education in their local areas.

Is there a looming teacher shortage for September 2015?

I’ve enjoyed reading John Howson’s blog. His analytical take around the number of teachers that we, as a country, need is incisive and informative.

The release of the ITT census a week or so ago was given the ‘Howson treatment’ in this post. I’d strongly encourage anyone with an interest in teacher education to read it. If you are a parent concerned about your child’s education perhaps you should read it too. We are heading for a major shortage of qualified teachers in many subject areas. We are at least 1,300 secondary school teachers short across the country. There is also a 7% shortfall in primary school teachers this year.

As someone with an interest in music education, one key fact stood out for me from the post. Across the country only 81% of planned training places were filled. Regular reads of this blog will remember that the MMU Music courses for a September 2014 start were filled well in advance; in July we received a panic email from the DfE asking us to fill an additional 7 places. We were able to do this. Through discussions with other colleagues across the country I’ve found out that many universities received a similar request. Many of them were not willing to reopen courses.

This chaotic, piecemeal approach to the training of our teachers is pretty shoddy. It is certainly not helped by this government’s preoccupation with Schools Direct. Howson’s analysis shows us that Schools Direct only manages to recruit 61% of total places. SCITTS only managed 79%. HEI led courses recruited 90% of their allocation. I am constantly amazed that the DfE seems determined to pursue a policy of school-based training provision like this when the evidence shows clearly that it is poorer quality, patchy in terms of its provision, and pedagogical and intellectually weaker in many aspects compared with HEI-led programmes.

 

 

Launch of 2015 NCEM Young Composers Award

The 2015 NCEM Young Composers Award will be launched on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show at 2pm this coming Sunday, 30 November.

This major national award is presented by the National Centre for Early Music and BBC Radio 3 in partnership with Scotland’s leading baroque ensemble, the award-winning Dunedin Consort directed by John Butt.

Composers are invited to create new settings for a short dramatic scene from either Orfeo or Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda. Both works were originally set to music by Claudio Monteverdi, the composer who brought a new dramatic life to the relationship between words and music. The new work will be for two or three singers accompanied by a small ensemble of baroque instruments.

The award is open to young composers resident in the UK in two age categories: 18 years and under; and 19 to 25 years.

Applicants must register their interest in the award by emailing the National Centre for Early Music at education@ncem.co.uk by Friday 20 February, stating which age category they wish to enter. Completed scores must be delivered to the NCEM by Friday 20 March. The award will be judged in York on Thursday 14 May, when a shortlist of entries will be presented by the Dunedin Consort in a workshop led by composer Christopher Fox at the National Centre for Early Music. That evening, the Dunedin Consort will perform each of the pieces in front of a panel of judges in a public concert, after which the two winners will be announced, one for each of the two age categories.

The two winning compositions will be performed by the Dunedin Consort in a public concert and recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show.

For full details, Terms and Conditions and application forms, visit the NCEM website at www.ncem.co.uk/composersaward2015.