Music in some schools is too poor
A new Ofsted report examining music teaching has found wide differences in the quality and quantity of music education in schools across England. One in five of the schools visited were judged inadequate for music.
According to the report, too many music lessons placed insufficient emphasis on actually making music, and too much focus on talking or written exercises. The scarcity of good vocal work in secondary schools, where nearly half of those inspected were judged inadequate for singing, and the underuse of music technology across all levels were found to be significant barriers to pupils’ musical progress. For example, insufficient use was made of audio recording to assess and improve pupils’ work.
Nearly all the schools recognised the importance of promoting a diverse range of musical styles, but far fewer had a clear understanding about how students should make good musical progress.
Across the primary and secondary schools visited, around twice as many girls as boys were involved in extra-curricular activities. In secondary schools, only 6% of students with disabilities or special educational needs were involved in additional tuition, compared to 14% of students without these needs.
Nearly all the schools recognised the importance of promoting a diverse range of musical styles, but far fewer had a clear understanding about how students should make good musical progress. The report, ‘Music in schools: wider still, and wider’, is complemented by six new films (link below) exemplifying good practice in a wide range of settings, designed to help all schools.
Launching the report, Ofsted Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said: "Inspectors looking at music teaching in nearly 200 schools saw quality ranging from outstandingly good to extremely poor.
"Too often, inspectors simply did not see enough music in music lessons. Too much use was made of non-musical activities such as writing without any reference to musical sound.
"Too much time was spent talking about tasks without teachers actually demonstrating what was required musically, or allowing the pupils to get on with their music making."
Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, said: "All music educators and head teachers must work together to ensure that the use of technology in music is encouraged, and the striking inequalities in provision - particularly by gender - are tackled. The real message here is for head teachers and music educators to engage with the ISM, as the professional association for music, and other bodies to ensure that their staff are able, and confident enough, to teach music to the highest standard."
The report recommends that schools give sufficient, regular time for developing aural awareness and musical understanding, and ensure that opportunities for pupils’ practical, creative application and response to music are given priority.
It also recommends that schools do more to ensure the sustained participation and musical achievement of specific groups of pupils; particularly boys; pupils with special educational needs; pupils known to be in receipt of free school meals; and children who are looked after.
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