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Updated Governors Guide to Music Education Published

28th May 2021

Today sees the publication of an updated version of the school governors guide to Music Education, ‘Music: a guide for governing boards’ by Arts Council England (ACE) in partnership with the National Governors Association (NGA) and Music Mark.  One of a set of four guides, with a further one due to be published later in the year, this document provides valuable information for governors of schools across England about the importance, benefits, and value of music education within and beyond a schools’ curriculum.

As a subject association for music education, Music Mark was asked to help write the original guide published in 2016, and was delighted to be invited to work with ACE and the NGA on this updated version.  The guide aims to help governing boards to look at how music can support all pupils from all backgrounds to experience a broad and balanced curriculum and the updates reflect a renewed focus on the subject by both the DfE and Ofsted.

There has been significant discussion about the music curriculum over the past few months following the Department for Education’s publication of a Model Music Curriculum (MMC) in March.  Whilst the MMC is non-statutory and it will be up to individual schools to decide whether they use all or elements of the model provided, the Schools Minister makes a clear statement within the MMC that music is ‘a vital part of a broad and ambitious curriculum’. It is hoped this may encourage governors to consider how they are supporting their school leaders and classroom teachers to provide every pupil in their school with a high-quality music curriculum.

In addition to referencing the DfE’s MMC, links have been made within the guide to the new Ofsted Inspection Framework which was being rolled out prior to the pandemic. This will resume in the new academic year, and aims to look at a school’s intent, implementation, and impact in a subject.  To support music educators to consider this, Music Mark hosted a webinar with the Ofsted HMI for Music,  Mark Phillips, in January 2021. In his talk, ‘Why just ‘doing’ music isn’t enough’, he challenged teachers to consider how they will support progression by building on previous learning, rather than simply doing ‘more’.  Members of Music Mark can watch a recording of this webinar here.

Music Mark’s CEO, Bridget Whyte, worked closely with Sharon Bray, Head of Service at Leicester-Shire Schools Music Service, on revising the text within the guide, so that as well as providing governors with information about the benefits of music education and highlighting the characteristics of high-quality provision, there are also ideas for how to monitor progress, outcomes and impact.

However, Music should not just be seen by governors as a curriculum subject alone, and therefore the guide also helps emphasise why schools should look at the wider musical learning on offer and how to connect with other local music education providers through becoming part of the local Music Education Hub.  It is hoped that there will be a better understanding across the country of how these hub partnerships can add significant value to the music offer within a school, including helping pupils and teachers to connect with the wider local community.

Commenting on the publication, Bridget Whyte said:

Music Mark believes that all children and young people should receive excellent musical learning in and out of school which inspires and enriches their lives.  State school governors have a responsibility to oversee the education provided within their school and we very much hope that this revised guidance will support them to understand the value and importance of music both as a subject and as a tool to support creativity, mental health, and wellbeing.   

As well as the guide to Music, updated versions of the guides for Arts, culture & creativity; Art, craft & design; and Dance have also been published today.

All of the guides can be downloaded from the Arts Council England website.