Tuesday 25 September 2012

Joined up thinking in musical education?

You would think that we could be able to expect experienced politicians and senior civil servants to provide joined up thinking when it comes to drafting new legislation and government policy. That Yes Minister was only a TV programme, and in no way reflected real life. But for the last 20 years or so, governments of all hues have shown a worrying tendency to react to media outbursts with knee-jerk reactions and a hurried drafting, or re-drafting, of legislation, usually with unintended results. Recently the present government showed signs of real joined up thinking when it came to music education, but now that seems to be up in the air.

With the commissioning of the Henley Report and the implementation of many of its recommendations we seemed to be making steps forward. Music hubs would be an intelligent way to implement access to music education. The Arts Council and the Department for Education were even funding an expansion of In Harmony - Sistema England, the organisation founded by Julian Lloyd Webber which uses music teaching as a social tool in working with deprived children.

Now all this seems at risk, again, with the government's knee jerk reaction to the problems with the exam systems. I can remember a few years ago when a political pundit commented that the Daily Mail newspaper was the biggest single force in politics. Not that much seems to have changed, with the hasty introduction of proposals for the Ebacc.

Now senior music educators have expressed concern about the new proposals and their prioritising of academic subjects, positing a lack of interest and will to ensure that non-core curriculum subjects will still be encouraged. Others have been more sanguine, taking a wait and see policy. (there is an excellent article in more depth on The Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/sep/23/michael-gove-ebacc-destroy-creative-education) There may well be intention in the DfE to integrate music teaching, music hubs and the National music plan. In fact, a DfE spokesman assures us that all is well; but such reassurances no long carry the weight that they once did.

Joined up thinking in music education, we can do that can't we?
Yes, Minister!

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