A breakdown of the Music Education Consultation Report
Written by Music specialist Dr Liz Stafford.
Alongside the announcement that a new expert panel is to be set up to devise a ‘refreshed’ National Plan for Music Education in England, on 6 August 2021, the DfE released the findings of a consultation they conducted back in Spring 2020 which will be used to inform the content of the plan. The consultation was completed by over 5000 young people, parents & carers, teachers, and representatives from organisations such as music education hubs and the music industry.
What are the main takeaways from the Music Education Consultation Report?
Probably the biggest headline to come out of this consultation is the statement that music at KS3 ‘generally was not as well delivered as at primary school.’ That is one-in-the-eye for those of our secondary colleagues who sometimes mention that pupils “haven’t done any music” at primary school! Joking aside, though, this recognition for primary music is brilliant news, as often we primary teachers have to read through endless unfounded reports that primary schools don’t teach music, or that non-specialists can’t teach music. Kapow Primary’s music scheme of work is all about empowering primary teachers to teach music with confidence, whether they consider themselves a ‘specialist’ or not, so it’s great to see this level of acknowledgement of the fantastic job primary teachers are doing with music in an official document from the DfE.
Music should be as inclusive as possible...
Another finding of note, is that music education should be as inclusive and accessible as possible. This may seem an obvious statement, and you might think that surely no-one is trying to be un-inclusive in their provision. However, as this consultation highlights, frequently there is a cost implication to musical activities which puts them out of the reach of some families. Over half the respondents said they ‘had been deterred from taking up musical activities due to the cost.’ The report also highlights the ‘patchy’ nature of provision with differing options available in different areas of the country, between different key stages and schools, and at differing costs. With Scotland recently announcing that all pupils are to be offered free instrumental lessons as part of their pandemic recovery programme, perhaps this is something that England may now try to emulate, given the findings of this consultation.
Finally, one other area which was considered significant enough to highlight in the Executive Summary of this report was the value of music technology, both for supporting more advanced students but also to make lessons accessible for pupils with SEND, and to support non-specialist teachers in delivering music lessons. We at Kapow Primary certainly wouldn’t argue with that last statement, and as an ed-tech company, we would welcome any further promotion of the use of technology to help teachers deliver any subject! (It might be worth noting that while this consultation report makes specific reference to some of the other non-specialist teaching schemes that are available, the consultation took place before Kapow Primary entered the market which is why you don’t see us featured there!)
What are the next steps for the Music Education Report?
Alongside a summary of the findings, the consultation report sets out some next steps, and reiterates that the DfE ‘remains committed to’ the vision that ‘all children, regardless of background, should have access to a high-quality music education.’ It states that the results of the consultation will be used to inform a ‘refreshed’ National Plan for Music Education, but also that it will take into consideration lessons that have been learned since the consultation took place, during the Covid-19 pandemic. So far so good, but then, all of a sudden pops up a reference to the Model Music Curriculum!
You will remember that the Model Music Curriculum was published in March 2021 and was criticised for its lack of pedagogical underpinning. Despite being a non-statutory document, which Ofsted have confirmed they do not expect schools to use, the MMC is now being dovetailed into the National Plan for Music Education, with the DfE stating that ‘the refreshed plan will take into account how the [Model Music] Curriculum in starting to be used by schools to help inform their lessons and how it can support the vision set out in the current plan.’ This seems to suggest that the DfE is hoping to make the Model Music Curriculum compulsory in all but name. Only time will tell how this particular aspect of the new plan pans out.
The report states that ‘following analysis of responses and publication of this report, the Department will continue to engage with the sector to build upon the findings of the call for evidence.’ You can be assured that Kapow Primary will keep you up to date with progress on the new National Plan for Music Education including how you can contribute your views as part of any new sector consultation process. In the meantime, you can read the whole Music Education Consultation Report here.
Read our guidance on the Model Music Curriculum
When will the National Plan for Music Education be released?
The new National Plan for Music Education is scheduled for release in early 2022 and Kapow Primary will of course keep you updated on what this means for schools once it is released. For now, we are releasing an overview of the results of the public consultation (LINK) which is to inform the panel’s decision-making process, so that you can see which issues have been flagged for potential inclusion in the plan.
Any music scheme of work provider would welcome any commitment from the government towards music education, and we hope that this new National Plan for Music Education will result in a whole range of new and inclusive musical opportunities for all children in England.