In an open letter to the Department for Education, over 120 music teachers have expressed their concern about the Government’s choice of an expert panel to oversee, and the ABRSM’s contract to produce, a model music curriculum. The letter highlights the lack of transparency in the processes around the selection of the panel and the inappropriateness of the ABRSM appointment given their lack of experience in school music curriculum development.
We reported on this development back in mid-January, and another open letter from many academics that work within our university teacher education departments forced the DfE to undertake an additional layer of consultation that resulted in a meeting (at very short notice) last week. Dr Jonathan Savage, MD of UCan Play, also had the chance to chat with Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister, about the developments on Radio 4’s Front Row programme. You can hear a recording of the discussion here.
The open letter comes on the same day as the ABRSM publish their Music Commission report. Sadly, the research that was completed as part of the process has not been published (the ABRSM has said it will be published later in 2019). So, whilst many of the recommendations appear at face value to be worthy, it is hard to understand the justification for these and whether they are based on anecdotes or opinions rather than actual research data. There are also many recommendations that seem to simply rehash ideas that have been prevalent in the discourse around music education for many years. In 12 – 18 months time, it will be interesting to see how many of the recommendations have made any material difference to the lived experiences of music teachers and our young people across the UK.