The report by the expert review panel for the National Curriculum review has published its framework for the new National Curriculum today. You can download their report here. For Music, there is good news of a sort! The recommendation is that it will be a foundation subject in the National Curriculum for Key Stages 1 – 3 (that will be Years 1 – 8 in the new system) alongside Art and Design. Geography, History and PE will be foundation subjects across Key Stages 1 – 4; MFL for Key Stages 2 – 4.
The report recommends changes to the Key Stage structure (see Chapter 5). The new structure, if adopted, will be Key Stage 1 (Years 1 & 2), Lower Key Stage 2 (Years 3 & 4), Upper Key Stage 2 (Years 5 & 6), Key Stage 3 (Years 7 & 8) and Key Stage 4 (Years 9 – 11). NOTE the change to a two year Key Stage 3 that will impact on the provision of Music compared to the current system.
What does that mean? It means that Music will be a statutory requirement. It will have a Programme of Study, but that will be ‘refined and condensed with minimal or no Attainment Target’ (see p.25 of the Report). You may think this is good news. I’m not so sure. It rather depends what ‘refined and condensed’ means.
Furthermore, the Report makes a further proposal that is relevant here. ‘The Arts’, the authors suggest, should be made compulsory at Key Stage 4 as part of a ‘Basic Curriculum’ (as opposed to those Core and Foundation subjects that make up the National Curriculum). In other words, as Paragraph 4.24 puts it:
We therefore recommend that education in art and music should be supported in Key Stage 4 through statutory requirement (separately or in combination), i.e. as part of the Basic Curriculum, as broad responsibilities; content should be determined by the school.
The following table (from p.29 of the Report) presents a summary of the proposals:
My initial impression of the report is that it is an work-man-like document. Care and attention to detail has been paid to a vast number of issues. I’ll pick up on more of these after Christmas. I’m sure the media will pick up on some of the slightly more lunatic elements (!), but for music education there is broadly speaking good news here. I’d like to think this is, in part, down to the significant amount of campaigning that has gone one by various people across the country. The same can’t be said of the vast majority of our national music organisations who have been next to useless in my opinion. No doubt they will welcome these changes. But they need to have a serious look at themselves and what or whose purposes they serve.
For completeness, here are the links to the other documents that support the Report as released by the DfE today:
Review of the National Curriculum in England: Report on subject breadth in international jurisdictions
Review of the National Curriculum in England: Summary report of the call for evidence
A copy of the statement made by Michael Gove to the HoC today (19/12/11)