Category Archives: National Curriculum

Some personal reflections on the recent Ofsted advice on assessment

I first met Martin Fautley at the University of Cambridge in the late 1990s. He was studying for a doctorate there; I was teaching at Stowmarket High School. We were both attending a seminar/study group on music teaching and research led by our colleague Pam Burnard. Martin’s doctorate was focusing on a process of assessment for music education. It was, and still is, a fascinating read. Continue reading

Five seminars on primary education

I’m happy to promote the following seminars:

The Association for the Study of Primary Education (ASPE) is funding a series of five seminars on different topics associated with the New Primary National Curriculum 2014. The first of these events is now scheduled to take place on Wednesday 2 July 2014 (10.00-15.30) in Manchester and will focus on the extremely important topic of ‘Teacher Education and the Primary Curriculum’.

The venue will be Chancellors Hotel and Conference Centre, which is easily accessible from central Manchester, and a highly distinguished line-up of internationally renowned academics will speak at the event including Professor Michael Apple- John Bascom Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Professor Gary Beauchamp – Director of Research for the School of Education and Professor of Education at Cardiff Metropolitan University and lead author of the background paper Research and Teacher Education: The BERA-RSA Inquiry – Policy and Practice within the United Kingdom; and Professor Ann Lieberman – Senior Scholar and Interim Executive Director of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE), an affiliate of Stanford University. The event will be led by Professor Olwen McNamara and colleagues from The University of Manchester.

Since ASPE is funding this event the only charge will be £20 to assist in the costs of catering/refreshments. Please book your place as soon as possible by contacting Dr Grant Stanley at: .

The Love Music Trust Primary Music Curriculum is launched!

This post is about a new primary school music curriculum that I’ve been involved in supporting. It has been written by primary teachers in Cheshire East and produced by the Love Music Trust, the music education hub in Cheshire East. My company,, has helped in the preparation of the online content.

The Love Music Trust Primary Music Curriculum contains 6 units of work for each year of Key Stages 1 and 2. It has been written specifically for the generalist primary teacher to help them address the requirements of the new National Curriculum. There is also a collection of Early Years resources (these will be increasing over the coming weeks). The Love Music Trust have made two of the units available free of charge.

Further details about the curriculum can be found here.

I’ve really enjoyed working on this curriculum over the last few months. I’ve learnt a lot from working with the other staff on the project and I’m very happy to recommend this to you.

Please could you do all you can to raise awareness about this new resource with your primary schools in any way that you can. Thank you very much.

Please don’t forget that we are here to support you and your school in any way in respect of the development of your music provision and wider use of technology.

ISM launch new materials that support the National Curriculum for Music

I’m delighted that the ISM have published there support materials for the new National Curriculum for Music today. They are available here. Alison and Martin have done a great job in pulling this together. Under their leadership, and with the support of others across the music education community, these materials will prove invaluable for music educators in primary and secondary schools across the UK.

Just one small, additional note. Many of the folk who have led the production of these resources, and contributed to them, are members of education faculties across the country who have given their time freely to support the music education subject community. These are precisely the same folk who jobs are at risk and whose departments are closing under this Government’s determination to remove teacher education from universities in an ideological drive to get schools to undertake this role. Please remember what we are loosing as a result in terms of our subject communities and the wider benefits that these university staff bring to music education across the UK.

Support Materials for the National Curriculum for Music

I’m delighted to highlight the provision of some excellent support materials for the new National Curriculum. These have been produced by Ally Daubney working with the ISM. I can thoroughly recommend them.

Here’s Alison’s description of the materials:

On behalf of the ISM (the subject association for Music), these documents support teachers to develop their music curriculum in line with requirements of the new National Curriculum for Music.  Embedded in the documents are links to other useful sources of information to assist with curriculum planning, points for consideration and implications for schools, departments and teachers.  There are separate guides for both primary and secondary phase teachers; the classroom work is linked directly to the role of hubs.

All documents can be found from this link.

There will be some further DfE materials (produced by the group that I used to chair) at some point in the future. These will be posted on the ISM page once published. Thanks for all your hard work on this Ally.

Please complete this ISM survey on GCSE Music

As part of my support for the ISM campaigning, I am very happy to alert you all to a survey into GCSE Music that the ISM are undertaking. Please take time to complete a response as they seek to influence Government policy in this area. Here is the ISM’s request:

As you may be aware, the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) began looking at the role of GCSE music towards the end of 2012, as the threat from the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) reforms reached its peak. You can read more about this work, and read our useful glossary of terminology online.

Following the Government’s u-turn and further redrafts of the GCSE subject guidelines for music from the wider music education community we are now keen to hear what colleagues think of GCSE music. 

We have launched a survey to inform our work.

Please take a moment to complete the survey and encourage colleagues across the music and education professions to do likewise. The website address for the survey is:

National Curriculum and Assessment from September 2014

The DfE have published their latest guidance surrounding the National Curriculum and the ‘new’ assessment framework. You can download the 4 page document here.

Key highlights (I use the term loosely) include:

  1. The removal of levels of attainment. Schools will need to decide how to assess pupils’ progress (beyond the Key Stage 2 SATs and GCSE examinations);
  2. There is no national support for the National Curriculum. Schools know best, apparently, and teaching schools will be central to helping schools within their alliances prepare for the new National Curriculum;
  3. The DfE expect publishers and other providers to bring new materials to market to help support the new National Curriculum;
  4. The DfE are promoting the work of subject associations and other membership organisations, such as The Princes’ Teaching Institute, who are developing new materials (but at a considerable cost to teachers and schools – just check out their fees!). Or check out this offer from Music Mark in conjunction with Pearsons – only £275 per primary school teacher per day!

For the record, I acted as Chair of the Key Stage 3 (Music) Expert Panel for around 6 months between April and September 2013. I worked with a fantastic group of teachers and others, providing an audit of resources and planning future work to support the implementation of the new National Curriculum. This work was done freely by all the members of the panel in the spirit of wanting to make a positive impact on music education as the National Curriculum was developed and introduced.

Following the announcement that the DfE were not going to commission any new work to support the National Curriculum and had ignored completely our well-founded suggestions for future work, even our ideas of working collaboratively with publishers and others, I resigned from this position in early September. The DfE plead poverty at every turn in respect of this new National Curriculum and its support, yet they are able to find hundreds of millions of pounds for vanity projects such as Free Schools. The whole thing is sickening in my opinion.

Please pause for a moment and consider what we have lost …

The publication of the new National Curriculum by the DfE a week or so ago has left the National Curriculum in England in a sorry state. Whilst some may celebrate its brevity, I can’t help feeling a sense of loss. Critics will argue that the National Curriculum is a stifling document, that works against creativity and undermines teacher autonomy. I would argue the exact opposite. When I’ve got more time on my hands I’ll write about why I think that the National Curriculum is important and why the current framework is a poor reflection of previous versions.

For now, I’m happy to make this document available. I wrote it around 2007 when the previous version of the National Curriculum was being published. It outlines the key changes that were afoot then. I challenge you to read it and not conclude that the current two sides of A4, written as they were by an anonymous civil servant in the DfE without specialist knowledge or expertise, are a backwards step.

Contrast the support for the old National Curriculum with the lack of support for the new one

I found this in a folder of old work that I was looking through today. It outlines the various subject associations and the support that they gave to the new National Curriculum, as it was, in 2007. Back in those days, the National Curriculum was truly national. It was also taken seriously by the Government and supported sensibly by a planned programme of implementation. Neither of those things are true today, sadly.

The consultation on the National Curriculum Programmes of Study is over (but the political machinations rumble on)

I think it is fair to say that the production of the proposed National Curriculum Programmes has been one of the most political processes in the history of the National Curriculum. As I wrote about in a previous post, even in the production of the original National Curriculum the Secretary of State for Education at the time was at pains to try and keep some political distance from the process. For Music, this meant that key academics like Keith Swanwick played a prominent role in co-ordinating responses.

Not so today. Gove’s imprint is all over these reforms, with charges being made (in the New Statesman) that he actually wrote the History PoS himself (something that he has not refuted). This week, I read outrageous stories of Gove’s direct political interference relating to the production of the ICT programmes of study.

For Music, we are still none the wiser as to who wrote the actual Programmes of Study. Perhaps I should open a book? Equal odds on Dick Hallam or a faceless civil servant within the DfE perhaps? Continue reading