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Ofsted report on music hubs

Ofsted, the official body for inspecting schools, published a report on music education hubs on Friday 15 November. In the report, which has received widespread attention, Ofsted questions whether hubs have been successful enough in improving music education for all children in schools.

Sound Connections Director Philip Flood responds: “We welcome the report as there is much that is positive in it and this will inform our ongoing work with the 29 hubs that we work with across London. It is important, however, to recognise the vital role that music organisations, and individual practitioners, can play in supporting teachers, head teachers and hub leaders in fulfilling the ambition of the National Music Plan for Music Education.”

You can download a copy of the report here and also see a range of responses and summaries here.

Update: Wired4Music senior member, Josh Smith from Camden responds to Ofsted’s recent report on Music Education Hubs:

“As an interested outsider to the challenging world of music services, I read the Ofsted “Music in schools: What Hubs must do” report to try and understand how young people are being affected by the introduction of Music Hubs. There are many heartening things to take from the report and the following are some of my thoughts, written as a member of Wired4Music, the music council for young Londoners hosted by Sound Connections (and as someone whose school days are not too far behind me).

On the basis of the text in the report, Her Majesty’s inspectors seem to have conducted their investigations without consulting young people to get their direct feedback on their experiences engaging with hub led programs. It seems counter-intuitive that the beneficiaries of the Music Hubs are not part of the conversation. This is similar to The National Plan for Music Education, which laid out the foundation for the creation of Music Hubs to improve music education.

Few would suggest that it is an easy task for Hubs to strike up a healthy working relationship with schools. School leaders are not obligated to consult with Hubs and so the kind of trust necessary for Hubs to do their best work will take time to build. A powerful way to get the senior leaders at schools to take notice of Hubs would be if students spoke up to advocate the work that Hubs were doing.

Ofsted makes an excellent point that Hubs must try to foster an environment where schools view them as music services experts in the community. I do not believe this point is intended to ignore the vital role that organisations such as Sound Connections (who work with 29 Hubs!) play in the music education landscape. The report recognises that the most successful Hubs are the ones at the centre of a network of different schools and musical practitioners. Despite this perhaps more focus could be given to this point.

I feel that the eternal problem that instrumental teaching, orchestras and ensembles, choirs, festivals and holiday music courses are enjoyed by a minority of students is not given the appropriate weight in the report. Widening participation in music should be a key deliverable .

One thing that struck me was the comment about teachers judging “without good reason” that primary school kids were not ready to learn about musical theory. Reference is made to a Year 3 “cohort” who sang in three part harmony to the whole school. This fantastic success story is recorded as a criticism that the pupils had not seen the notation of the song and “were in the dark about the chord sequence, time signature and melody shape they had sung so beautifully”. I am acutely aware of the benefits of learning musical theory but it is not taken as a given that it is appropriate to dedicate lesson time to teaching musical theory to such young kids, when the time could arguably be better spent educating the students about different musical styles and embracing the social side of music through the collective singing or instrumental teaching.”

Wired4Music is the music council for young Londoners, hosted by Sound Connections. Find out how young people can have their say here.






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