Music Curriculum Tender Draws Ire From Educators

The school standards minister Nick Gibb has announced on Twitter that the ‘ABRSM has won a competitive process to draft the new non-statutory Model Music Curriculum’.

The model curriculum was previously announced on 11 January, alongside new funding for music education hubs. At the time, the Department for Education (DfE) said that:

‘The new curriculum will be developed by a group of teachers, education leaders and musicians and will be published in summer 2019. It will provide schools with a sequenced and structured template curriculum for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3.’

This ‘group of teachers, education leaders and musicians’ is the ‘expert panel’ mentioned in Gibb’s tweet, which consists of 14 members from across music education and includes the ABRSM’s own chief executive Michael Elliott.

Educators have reacted to the news with criticism, both of the tender process and of the DfE’s choice of provider.

Stuart Birnie, head of the Music Service in Birmingham was the first to respond, tweeting, ‘I cannot believe this. Why don't you listen to the experts in music education? They (ABRSM) provide over priced graded examinations. Listen to the teachers in primary, secondary and special schools. What utter nonsense.’

And many others took to twitter to criticise the ABRSM’s lack of expertise in classroom music and non-instrumental music learning. Others cited ABRSM’s poor track record of diversity and inclusion of women and minority composers in their examination repertoire, as well as their outdated syllabi and pedagogical materials.

ABRSM has noted that their planned curriculum will be published this summer, aiming to
provide schools with a practical, structured framework on which they can base their own programmes of study. Given that they have also noted that ‘We’re still at the early stages of this immensely exciting piece of work’, a summer publication deadline shows that they are unlikely to be seeking further input.
March 2019


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