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Ofsted’s new Music Subject Report

25th September 2023

Blue text reading 'Ofsted'

Following the publication of a set of literature review reports from Ofsted in 2021/22, they are now publishing subject reports.  The Music Subject Report was published on Thursday 21st September 2023, the first since 2012/13. 

The report highlights the findings from visits to 50 schools – 25 primary and 25 secondary – from across England.  It provides a summary of the main findings and then explores these in more detail and includes some useful case studies which school leaders, teachers and indeed the wider music education workforce might reflect on. 

The report acknowledges a decline in key stage 3 provision and a ‘shrinking amount’ of training time for trainee primary teachers, but also has some positive observations including evidence of more singing at primary and engagement with the local Music Education Hub partnership was providing valuable support to teachers in terms of training and resources. 

As a subject association for music, Music Mark is pleased to see this report being published and hopes that all schools in England will read and engage in discussion around its finding.  There are some strong statements from Ofsted within it including: 

‘…… the school’s extra-curricular music activities… are essential for music to thrive in schools’ 


‘In order to flourish, music depends on strong and flexible leadership.  We found that leaders in schools with a strong and vibrant musical culture made music part of the fabric of the school.  They viewed music as a subject in its own right and valued its contribution to their school’s wider culture.  Leaders actively sought the expertise of musicians, often from local music hubs, to support them…’ 

The recommendations are clear.  There is a strong focus on ensuring music as a curriculum subject is given its rightful place within the school supporting children ‘to think more musically and, consequently, become more musical.  To do this, there is a call for school leaders to ensure they provide support for teachers who deliver the curriculum with specialist training.   

Music Mark will be delving into the report in more detail over the coming weeks and will share further insight and details of what we plan to do to support teachers and leaders meet its recommendations in due course.  However, you can find out more about our existing training and support on our website – including training in Indian and Caribbean music, our termly Teach Meet, Music Mark’s resources such as A Common Approach and 10 Things Every School Should Know About Music, and lots of other help specifically for schools.  Use our resources page search function to explore what we have to offer. 

We are also looking forward to welcoming the HMI for Music – Christopher Stevens – who is joining us for a webinar on Monday 16th October at 4pm.  The session is likely to focus on the findings of this report and will include time for questions.  Book your place on this event.