Faculty reviews and knowledge

A friend of mine sent me the following draft of a faculty review report. He recently graduated from Teach to Lead and is now an Associate Assistant Head with responsibility for Tradition and Knowledge. He is very much enjoying his NQT year and is currently writing a book entitled: “A broken nation: the progressive legacy.” It is hotly anticipated in certain circles.

Faculty Review.

Expressive Arts Faculty

 

Hypothesis

Progressive ideologies have taken a grip of this faculty – this has led to poor outcomes.  The Expressive Arts and PE Faculty have a number of experienced teachers who need to reimagine what is possible with poor students. Poor students deserve a tough love which embraces the challenges of studying theory and introduces young people to the fundamental aspects of musical knowledge found in the classical canon. Afro-American traditions such as hip-hop and funk are unlikely to contain examples of the best that has been thought and said – although they do come a very close second.  Just imagine how good Grime would be if it had a few melodies.

Learning is characterised by low expectations, group work and attempting to engage students with fun activities. There is little attempt to embed knowledge and understanding through appropriate drills and memorisation techniques. Most students are allowed to work in an atmosphere of exploration and creativity.

Teachers need to realise that they have got things about creativity in students very, very wrong having been hoodwinked by the doctrine of progressive constructivist education.  Traditional thinking, knowledge rich loving art teachers are thin on the ground. Thankfully this much maligned minority are finally beginning to find a voice through social medial and are making a stand for all the white middle class males that are under-represented in music education. (Find out more in my blog: “Why study Missy Elliot when we have Beethoven?”)

We are also beginning to see that students need years and years of patient study before they can be allowed to compose. Quite simply, pupils need more rigour, more focus and more practice before being allowed loose to compose their own music. Such activities are futile and do nothing to improve standards.

Many arts teachers still cling to the idea that all students are creative. They often hold the oppressive view that students are already able to express themselves and form opinions and ideas. They forgot the importance of the role of the apprentice and the role of an apprentice in being subservient to his betters. It’s time that the silent majority reclaimed its position in society and made a stand for truth and justice.

 Summary of Findings

Evidence was taken from learning walks, book looks, staff and student voice and analysis of data. Particularly instructive of the issues was this comment from a year 8 student:” I like music – lessons are fun, we get to work in groups.”

Data showed some poor outcomes particularly for disadvantaged students who had been allowed to play the wrong kind of instruments. Orchestral players were nearly all better readers of music. Unsurprisingly they also seemed better adjusted young people.

Music department report

 Music lessons were characterised by group work in composition and performance.  We heard some very unmusical parallel fifths – we gave them an instant demerit. Too many students were allowed to work collaboratively and learn from other students.  In one lesson we saw year 8s attempting to play Salsa in a group. It was clearly an example of untrammelled progressive ideology. The majority of the group were unable to cope with the complex syncopations and challenging part writing. The occasional daydream or floundering music making in a practice room may seem innocuous, but these seconds gradually amount to minutes and hours of learning time lost. Instead we felt drills in keeping time to a 4/4 beat would have developed much better internalization of tempo and rhythm.

In another lesson many students were learning repertoire that they had chosen. This shows low expectation and colludes in lowering standards. For example one student was using an  iPad to watch a you tube video on how to play the riff from rabbit run – dismayed with such low expectations we gave her a copy of sheet music for Schumann’s Kinderszenen satisfied that she would learn some valuable truths about the nature of creativity and endeavour.

Traditional teachers have high expectations for students and don’t rely on modern technology and its engagement traps. Very few intelligent people actually like Grime and its known that students who are allowed to play too much rap end in a life of crime.  No wonder so few students carry on to be world renowned orchestral players.

Very few lessons were characterised by individual study of theory. This led to the low standards in performance and shocking misconceptions in compositions. Students should not be allowed to express creativity through composition work if they do not the difference between crochets and quavers. Many music teachers do not sweat the small stuff. Students who incorrectly resolve a leading note need immediate remedial attention in order to prevent the rot from spreading.

Too much talk of embodied knowledge skirts the issues that students need more knowledge – the right sort of knowledge. Philosophers like Lakoff and Johnson just need to read more widely. Knowledge is knowledge is rich knowledge.

People are too attracted to silly and outdated notions that we are living in post-modern, post truth society in which the powerful shape truth for their own advantage. Let’s reclaim our traditions, the power of truth and bring back common sense ideas and optimal pedagogy to our classrooms.

 

Actions

  • Introduce all teachers to the greats of music – We suspect many music teachers are not able to rank appropriately the ten best symphonies of the 19th century and are seriously lacking in rich knowledge.
  • Remove group work until students are 14 or at least grade 3 standard.
  • Theory and harmony to focus on the rules created by Bach. Studying harmony in the context of modern popular music gives students the wrong idea.
  • All students to learn violin and introduced to a better appreciation of classical music.
  • promote knowledge before creativity.
  • Music teachers to focus on developing a knowldgerichcurrriulcumtradionalandnoexcusesculturewithoptimalpedagogy.

 

Drama

This was an exceptionally dark place.

Actions

Remove from the curriculum

 

In conclusion 

“to recognise that ‘being creative’ is, at least potentially, the natural and normal state of anyone healthy in a sane and stimulating community, and that realising that potential is as much a matter of collaboration and ‘co-creation’ as of splen- did or miserable isolation;”

“to insist upon a vision of creativity that embraces radical forms of re-creation and includes actively engaged kinds of re-vision, re-membering and re-familiarisation (as distinct from the relatively passive notion of ‘recreation’), and thus resists casual notions of divine creation ‘from nothing’ or of purely spontaneous expres-sion welling up from nowhere;”

page 17 Creativity Theory History Practice

The great strength of the concept re . . . creation (which is therefore its greatest potential weakness) is that it draws attention to the possibility of missing or excluded terms. It invites us to see through the existing possibilities to words and worlds beyond as well as between; and it encourages a view of ‘difference’ that is genuinely other- wise. Put another way, it is an invitation to keep on jumping or bridging the gap; for it cannot be permanently filled in, and simply ignoring and then falling into it gets us nowhere.

Finally, I would argue that a concept such as re . . . creation offers a more responsive and responsible vision of ‘creativity’ than that provided by the standard definitions in the specialist literature. There the emphasis tends to be upon the ‘new’, the ‘novel’ and the ‘original’ in their narrowly ‘modern’ senses (see above p. 57). Re . . . creation leaves more room for conserving and sustaining as well as recasting and refreshing, while resisting conservative, reactionary impulses of an unthinking and merely reflex- ive kind.

Page 88 Creativity Theory Practice

Towards quality and equity in music education.

Towards quality and equity in music education.

     “For me, the Classical 100 encapsulates 2 vital principles for music education in our schools. Firstly, ensuring that it is of a high quality. And secondly, ensuring that it is made available to all children, irrespective of birth or background.”

Nick Gibb in his speech at the London Mayor music Summit explains why both equity and quality need to be at the heart of music education.

Nick Gibb is right of course. Everyone deserves a quality music education. However his speech indicates his view of equity is narrow and simplistic whilst his view of quality promotes a belief in a Eurocentric, male, white hierarchy.

The government wish to believe that getting more poor people or ethnic minorities to play classical music will solve problems of equity in music education. I am concerned that we neglect how history and power (inequalities of gender, race and class) have worked to exclude many diverse ways of musicking and as a result positioned many millions of musical people as unmusical.

So what are the issues around quality and equity in music education – what can be done?

Recently Musical Futures tweeted:

“Tone Deaf: Reflections on the National Association for Music Education | Fresh Ed ow.ly/duyJ300H4Tp”

The article outlines a recent controversy in the states over issues of diversity in music education organisations.

In Keryl McCord’s original blog She writes:

 

“Representing my organization – Alternate ROOTS, where I am Operations Director – I was seated at the table with Mr. Michael Butera, Executive Director and CEO of the National Association for Music Education. Each of the organizations at the table articulated how we were attempting to deal with issues of equity, inclusion, and diversity within our boards, staff, membership, and our fields.”

 

Mr. Butera told us that his board was all white and that he couldn’t diversify his board because they aren’t appointed but, rather, they are elected by the membership. Further, his membership isn’t diverse because, “Blacks and Latinos lack the keyboard skills needed for this field.” He also intimated that music theory is too difficult for them as an area of study

Its shocking to read such a statement and hard to believe that this was made only a month ago. Its good to read that many organisations are recognising the need to open up discussion. So for example here:

 

“This is a process that calls for national arts leaders to step up and engage with one another and not give in to the forces that would divide us. “

Over in England it seems to me similar issues of diversity are even more entrenched and rarely discussed – although I find it hard to imagine anyone coming out with a statement like the one above.

For example consider Music Mark: “Music Mark is a subject association for music education, representing and supporting Music Services and over 12,000 instrumental and classroom music teachers, tutors, consultants, advisers, inspectors and lecturers in Initial Teacher Education.”

 

You would imagine that the association would contain a range of musical interests with a diverse board then?

 

Its team consist of:

Patron – Charles Hazlewood: “His primary and tireless mission is to bring orchestral music alive for a new audience. “

Graeme Smith

Graham Bland

James Dickinson

Professor Martin Fautley

David Little

Richard Morris

Diane Rivaud

Tim Sharp

John Thomson

 

It’s a male dominated board and very white. It’s hard to see this as a diverse mix of people. Nor are they, if the admittedly brief biographies are anything to go by, a diverse group musically. Over at Musical Futures (the team and board consist of 17 people) there is more of a gender balance – however it’s still a very white organisation.

Or consider the Hub leaders for Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham and Lambeth – all multiculturally diverse boroughs, served by a white leadership.

Or consider: “The South Riverside Music Partnership (SRMP) comprises six partners Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and the music hubs of the four boroughs of Lambeth, Lewisham, Royal Greenwich and Southwark. “

Actually I don’t know the make up of this board as I couldn’t find it on their website.

 

Or consider the Music Excellence group, which I am about to start working with – a group of mainly white music educators and leaders. Again, whilst a very talented group of dedicated teachers are we in danger of become quite narrowly focused in our concerns?

 

Or check out the recent list of speakers at the Music Education Expo – out of nearly 100 it was difficult to count more than a few non-white speakers.

 

I’m probably stating the obvious – I’m sure the above organisations are very aware of the lack of diversity – but I think it would be good to hear more of how they are combatting this at the very top as well as how they are aiming to bring diversity of musical experiences to our students.

 

In a previous blog after the Westminster Education Forum I noted the narrow social circle that attended the event: “there seems ideological differences that need more exploration and issues of who gets to speak on behalf of others.”

A theme of this event was the importance of bringing classical music to our young. (Stop me if think you have heard this one before.)

Considering the Mayor of London’s Summit on School Music (22nd March 2016) Dr Elizabeth Stafford wrote:

“Other cultures have equally long-standing and artistically significant musical traditions. Why are we not making room on the pedestal for these? Why are we not encouraging white performers to get involved in ‘minority’ music? Why are we focusing on raising the participation of minority musicians in (white) classical music? I have to confess that I find this uncomfortable.

 YES classical music needs more ethnic diversity. But music education also needs musical diversity.”

 

 

In The Handbook of Social Justice in Music Education authors Roberta Lamb and Niyati Dhokai talk about the role of feminism in developing our understanding of Social Justice in Music. They write:

“The music education profession tends to take an image of the moment, erase the historical traces and social relations that brought the image into focus, and present the moment as if it had always, and already, existed.”

 

In the article Musical Futures tweeted Jamie Erenfeld argues:

“I question the integrity of a paradigm that feeds the creative modalities of an oppressing group to their oppressed, and I question the social consciousness of those constituents genuinely wondering why they’re not here for it.”

But with limiting and alienating notions of what music is valid, or worth making or honoring, we squander any potential for music to serve as the powerful healer it can be in our most marginalized communities. We’ve told them we’re not listening before we even ask them their names, with the centering of white musical traditions and ignorance of cultural context that brought about some of our most celebrated music, created by people of color about their experiences of violence* in the United States.”

 

 

It seems to me that when organisations and pressure groups once again make a claim for more classical music in the classroom they do so without considering the students on whose behalf they speak. They would be better served I think looking at their own organisational structures and starting with some diversity there. It seems to me that it is difficult to know what inclusion might mean and how we can improve Social Justice in Music Education if we are unable to recognise the way our music organisation privilege certain voices. We might be better off considering history and how narratives of superiority and complexity have worked to exclude as a necessary counter balance to the ahistorical claims of classical music’s transformative powers.

It’s great to hear Nick Gibb championing initiatives like Music Excellence London. I hope Music Excellence London is able to articulate why a commitment to a version of equity as understood by this government does more to undermine equity than improve it. I hope that Music Excellence London is able to champion a vision of equity that moves beyond correcting a perceived lack in the culture and values of young people who no longer embrace classical music. I hope Music Excellence London is able to listen to young people and their music making not in terms of what it lacks but for what it is. I hope Music Excellence London is able to ask difficult and challenging questions of the many music organisations that still have an incredible lack of diversity on their own leadership and governing bodies. I hope we can shed more light on what is meant by equity and quality in music education by asking difficult questions rather than seeking easy answers.

 

 

 

When Lucy Green Met a Music Traditionalist and came to know deep values.

When Lucy Green met a Music Traditionalist and came to know deep values.*

 

TMT (traditional music teacher): I want to get straight to the point – all students deserve great music and great music teaching.

LG (Lucy Green): Who decides what counts as great music?

TMT: The teacher should decide. I have played in orchestras and I’m keen that all students are able to access the sort of amazing life changing experiences I have. Too many students are being fobbed off with second-rate music just because it is accessible and relevant. Too many people who know nothing about music think that young people don’t like classical music and only want to hear pop. That’s why its important to teach classical music and make sure students are equipped with the skills to read staff notation. We should not limit our students’ experiences of great music through low expectations.

I’m the diligent and resilient person I am due to classical music. I am worried poor people will miss out on the right sort of experiences and might not be able to develop the right kind of values. This is why everyone should be given the opportunity to read notation. If students are able to play music to a high standard and read notation this will release a much higher level of creativity than if they just played around with sounds or played pop music.

 

LG: Sounds like you are trying to maintain a strict hierarchical difference in values between classical music and popular music. No music is great on its own out of the context of the people who made it. The values you find important in music don’t reside in the music itself. The values you describe are found in our relationship with music and not everyone may see themselves and their values reflected in classical music.

TMT: I’m sorry but you sound like a Marxist. If we are not able to judge great music by its internal qualities then we just descend into the black hole and barbarism of relativism. There’s great music – which is obvious – and then there’s pop music. Most students are forced fed pop at home in council estates but don’t get the opportunity to play classical music – that’s why we must teach classical in the class room. It’s a well known fact that middle class parents will be ensuring their children have classical piano lessons from the time they are old enough to talk. I need to counteract the myopic inverted snobbery of lefties who teach relevance rather than great music because they are scared of being called elitist.

LG: Maybe Marx had a point? Maybe judging music by its internal qualities ignores a vital aspect of its importance. I argue that it is impossible to judge music by its internal qualities – to do so is a misunderstanding of musical meaning. People create music in particular historical circumstances. Music’s importance is contingent and social – not abstract and universal. To divorce music history and from how it is used by people is to deny a vital part of its importance; we limit our joy and love of classical of music by trying to pretend that its greatness last for all time – it reduces and contains music’s meaning. This is why classical music needs defending from its devotees.

 

TMT: I’m sorry but who can deny that Bach has created music that is universally loved and admired? Bach transcends time and history. All children should be given the opportunity to learn about the best that has been composed, arranged and performed. All children should be allowed to experience music of all musical genres. People’s preconceptions and ideas about music limit what our students are taught.

LG: In my book Music on Deaf Ears I have a lot to say about music and value. I talk about reification, fetishisation and ideology and how these limit the music education of students.

 

TMT: Oh dear – are you one of those academics who likes to impress people by using long words? I don’t need academics getting their theories in the way of truth and the practical considerations of the classroom. I like straight talking people who don’t hide behind words.

 

LG: Well it is true that some people found my first book a bit heavy as I discuss Hegel and Adorno.

 

TMT: I knew it! Another academic about to talk unnecessary theory. Some academics need to go back to the classroom – we’ll see how far their theory takes them.

 

LG: It seems some academics shed light on teaching. Many traditionalists enjoy the insights of cognitive psychology for example.

 

TMT: Yes but this is the right kind of theory and not one bogged down by ideology and reification. Cognitive Psychologists are specially trained Scientists unlike many educationalists and academics who take post-modernism’s claims as truth rather than the whacky, thought experiments of a privileged elite.

 

LG: I don’t agree with your separation of science and non – science but I actually agree with some of your points about notation and how the teaching of classical music is hindered by people who oppose the alienated condition of notation with a more natural immediate connection with the music itself.

 

TMT: Oh – okay, this sounds more promising. But I’m keeping an eye on too much non-scientific language and vague generalisation.

 

LG: In my book I argue that music meaning can be broken down into two parts: inherent music meaning (later inter-sonic as too many people got the wrong end of the stick with the word inherent) and delineated music meaning.

 

Inherent/Inter-sonic music meaning I take to be come about as a result of the way our consciousness is structured by music – how we perceive sounds and their relationship with each other through time. This is a logical step as we cannot have an “immediate” experience of music as just sound but we also perceive music as a social, historical object. This way music communicates social meanings and social relationships I call delineated musical meaning.

 

TMT: Okay – pretty obvious stuff really – there’s the notes and then there is what it means.

 

LG: Well – I argue that you cannot separate the two meanings out. When you experience music you experience both simultaneously – they are in a dialectical relationship if you like. Many common ideologies around music are to do with the way we prioritise one aspect of musical meaning over the over without realising.

 

TMT: So what has this got to do with teaching great music?

 

LG: Everything. In my understanding of dialectics….

 

TMT: Is this really necessary? Do teachers need a lecture on dialectics? Teachers are not stupid – well at least traditional teachers are very well read. I can’t speak for progressives – they seem to have read one book by Freire and nothing much else.

 

LG: Hopefully by explaining my philosophical approach you might understand some of the reasons that I am concerned with your view on teaching music. I see dialectical thinking as as one that recognises that there is a tendency to view the surface appearance of things as an explanation of them. It isn’t enough to try and explain things in their isolation – as they look on the surface. Instead we need to see how things relate to each other and how they relate to history.

We experience our world in a fragmented and immediate way and so tend to mistake this partial fragmented view as the whole explanation of things. Dialectics recognises the historical nature of our experience and thinking.

So for example musical ideologies often position music as the spontaneous output of individuals – a unique fragment of music. However it becomes great music because it transcends this individual creation to become ahistorical, universal and timeless.

In my book I show how supporters of classical music tend to value what they see as classical music’s ability to express the natural and eternal qualities of the human condition. Pop music supporters tend to point out its immediate and universal expression of feeling and emotions.

I see this as ideology reifying music. We no longer understand how music is a social and historical object but instead wish to see it as either universal or timeless or immediate.

Both views of music are actually based on the same belief that great music “leaps from the heart.”

The issue is that both supporters of great classical music or popular music continue to reaffirm the divide between the two styles of music. This dominant ideology actually works to strengthen classical music’s apparent separateness from popular music. So as I see it the good work done by students learning to play music in the classroom can be undone by supporting ideological beliefs that suggest music’s values resides in the inherent meanings themselves.

 

TMT: As I see it the dominant ideology in education is that classical music is far too hard for inner city students.

 

LG: That idea is an issue as I discuss in my book – however the underlying ideological belief in music education and wider society is that great music is autonomous and expresses the natural and eternal qualities of the human soul. Classical music is then always positioned within this ideology as superior to popular music – which is seen as having more obvious social roots. (You can see this idea in books about music, GCSE syllabus and many aesthetic theories of music) This does both a disservice. In my book I show that actually all but a very few teachers teach classical music – as they feel it is necessary and important – popular music is included for less musical reasons. As I show in my research Classical music’s place in the curriculum is really not in doubt by far the majority of teachers. However I believe that more important are the ideologies that put classical music in pole position – these are still held by most teachers.

 

Most people understand music as existing by its own natural and ahistorical laws. This leads to people seeing styles as a natural expression of music rather than a learnt and historical construction.

 

TMT: What if classical music just is better? Maybe people see it as better not because of ideology but because they can hear that its obviously better music.

 

LG: Well I see this as problematic as there is nothing “obvious” about classical music superiority. You are no doubt affirmed by its inter-sonic meanings and celebrated by its delineations however this view is one that rests on viewing musics importance as outside of history and relationships. You are assuming classical music superiority and that it has naturally arisen to its valued position. A more productive view is one that recognises quality in both classical and popular music and so teaches about both sensitively.

TMT: I’m thinking that students are already saturated by pop but are unfamiliar with popular music – why not teach them the stuff they don’t know and leave pop for now?

LG: This would continue the ideological rift between what counts as music for the classroom and what doesn’t. You would be communicating to pupils that classical music is better and hence undermining what you are setting out to do.

TMT: I could tell them it isn’t better and explain that it is just different but that for now it is important to study classical music in the classroom as it gives them access to knowledge they would not normally have. This knowledge will allow them to compete with other students who gain this knowledge from home.

LG: I’m feeling I have heard this argument before. It sounds like an argument Hirsch has advanced. It is argument that has its own ideological issues.

 

You are still preventing students from important musical experiences and understanding in service of an ideological view of education. It would be wrong in a multicultural society to ignore the many musics and traditions that young people are aware of and listen to and live with. Students come from diverse backgrounds and traditions – not to access them is to devalue these traditions. Whilst some students may well find themselves affirmed by classical music, some may not – what appears to be a lack of musicality may well be their inability to respond to the delineations of the music. In short a teacher that teaches classical music in preference to popular music for the musical good of the students undermines their own aim.

 

People often wish to teach classical music and encourage a kind of aesthetic affirmation. Teaching classical music can often be based on our belief it is transcendent in quality and contains something that is universally appealing. It is what I call attributing “universal subjective validity” to music. However the other side of this music ideology is the way as individuals we come to respond to the message of the music. The individualised response assumes listeners who will want to raise themselves above reality. There is no space for alternative views or political beliefs. The ideology removes society from music and the listener.    We erase society difference. It is my view that this is problematic.

 

 

TMT: Really? I think that students will appreciate being empowered by learning about notation and great music. Sorry music. I think once they realise I am teaching them classical music for their own good then they might not worry too much about needing to include their musical traditions into the classroom. Anyway isn’t all this a bit patronising? Can’t everyone no matter who they are learn to enjoy classical music with a bit of effort? Surely people are put off by the delineations – that it appears difficult and serious – once students start playing in my lessons they realise just how good classical music is!

 

LG: To me this is a big issue. To teach as if everyone should share my own values and in fact turn their back on their own value system is totally wrong. This is education as indoctrination. Which is the furthest away from our starting point of education for all.

However, I like the idea of teaching about and through music. It strikes me that you are mainly teaching through music in the belief that everyone will in the end appreciate the inter-sonic meaning of music. This is a kind of musical fetishism.

 

I argue Musical Fetishism is the way we talk about music so that the delineations about music take the place of the inter-sonic meanings. If we talk about music as if it’s greatness is an inherent quality and we do not talk about the sounds and notes but only about the delineations then we fetishise music. We also fetishise music when inherent musical meanings are reified and delineations are excluded from discussion due to the delineations being considered undesirable additions. The only appropriate musical response it would seem is a pure unmediated experience of music.

 

The ideology of autonomy makes it appear that music gains its existence by virtue of its own internal ahistorical laws. Great music needs to appear eternal and natural and universal. Poor music is rooted in society. This dichotomy is unhelpful and needs challenging in education. I would argue that part of your role is to challenge this kind of unfounded ideological belief in the natural superiority of classical music. I believe you should recognise that different people value different musics and so try and value this in the classroom. The issue of cultural capital is really one that is misused. I don’t think people really have understood Bourdieu.

 

I would say that the problem is with judging music as an eternal, universal and absolute expression of the human condition and in purely musical terms rather than in viewing musical meaning as being historically based. I argue that the attribution of universal subjective validity to art has now become common sense. This common sense means that time and time again people expect everyone to enjoy the inter-sonic meanings of classical music no matter who they are. It might be that some students even when they are familiar with the style still do not change in their appreciation of the value of the music. It might appear because of this difficultly they are unmusical.

 

TMT: I disagree. No-one thinks they are unmusical in my class. They walk out with smiles on their faces and joy in their hearts. I don’t think it really matters as long as you teach them well.

 

LG: Well I also suggest in my later books that the pedagogical style of teaching reinforces many musical divisions. I encourage teachers to try out different pedagogical approaches that give more ownership and choice to the student.

 

TMT: Let me stop you there. You are not going to convince me on this one. I have heard about Musical Futures – its just about letting kids mess around on their own and playing pop music.

 

LG: it’s a little more complex than that.

 

TMT: Of course you would think so. No I’ve no time for this. I think its time up for this discussion. Besides your book is really old and probably out-dated now.

 

LG: It’s no older than the ED Hirsch classic people seem to find so attractive. In fact my book was published around the same sort of time. I agree that some more qualitative research around people’s ideological beliefs on music would be useful.

 

 

TMT: I’m not so sure – we need more proper scientific understanding of music – something like the research of cognitive psychologists. Anyway I need to make an arrangement of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony for my class for next week. I’m just getting to the good bit. I’ve arranged some parts for the staff choir so we all learn together – We’re really getting to grips with inter-sonic meanings. I’m hoping to have taught all nine symphonies by end of next year and be the first primary school to release their own Cycle of Mahler’s Symphonies. Simon Rattle has even expressed an interest in conducting the music for a CD release and thus raising the self esteem of all students and staff through the universal voice of classical music. You won’t find any progressives doing that.

 

*With apologies to Lucy Green and all traditional music teachers.

My next blog will report back what happened when Christopher Small met a traditional music teacher. Fortunately he was a ghost and came to no harm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Culture White Paper: A guide for the perplexed.

The Culture White Paper: A guide for the perplexed.

Executive Summary

  1. Everyone should enjoy the opportunity culture offers, no matter where they start in life. Poor people don’t really do culture. They need inspiring by people who know the real power of culture. It’s not fair to point out that people in the Arts are poorly paid and often taken advantage of – how many people can say they are nourishing the soul of the nation? Isn’t this reward enough? What young people need is knowledge of Great Artists and Art. Lets stop all this anything goes liberalism – teachers should teach the best that has been thought and said. Young people need to learn an instrument or at least be given the opportunity to learn an instrument. Without knowing about The Greats in Art poor people can really miss out on culture and hence lead unfulfilled lives.

 

I want every single young person to have the opportunity to discover how the arts can enrich their lives. Access to cultural education is a matter
of social justice.  (p.19)

We want everyone regardless of background to have the opportunity to experience culture. (p. 22)

 

  1. The riches of our culture should benefit communities across the country. Its time culture really paid off by improving the health of the nation. Local communities have far too long been avoiding culture –they need to make sure they work with national experts on how best to make money from their churches and old buildings. Tourists really love them. However churches and cathedrals are not making enough money at the moment. Come to think of it there are some nice old looking buildings that might look good if we spent a little bit of love, care and attention on them.

We want our national and local cultural institutions to work together to support places to harness the power of culture to drive economic growth, education and wellbeing. P.29

Its purpose is to make it easier for visitors to discover England’s national treasures and hidden gems, by encouraging partners to work together across geographical boundaries to develop iconic tourism trails. Our culture is a key draw and it will have a key role in these new ‘must-see’ routes.   P 32

  1. The power of culture can increase our international standing. This is something we can all pull together on – our slipping economic relevance might be overlooked by hyping up Shakespeare. We are a great country filled with great culture – we just don’t make enough money from it yet. Everyone who visits our country says how much they love Shakespeare and our traditions. Its time we really started to make money from our Great National Heritage. We can ignore our racist legacy and pretend it never happened.

 

As a nation we are lucky enough to have inherited our rich, cultural history. This strategy will not only ensure we continue to celebrate it, but makes sure we can pass on something even more vibrant and inspirational to future generations. P. 39 

Shakespeare’s reach and influence increases with time and continues to shape perceptions of the UK. In a remarkable odyssey Shakespeare’s Globe’s touring production of Hamlet will have visited every country in the world by April 2016.   P. 42

 

  1. Cultural investment, resilience and reform. There’s not as much money around these days and so we’ve cut money to libraries (people overstate the importance of libraries these days now we have the internet and wifi) and we’ve also cut the Art Councils core grant by 36% over the last 5 years. Despite this we need to make further cuts so everyone needs to show a bit of resilience. Multi-national are fond of sponsoring “our culture “ so we need to show multi-nationals that local culture can be just as accommodating to their needs as the main national theatres and concert venues. We can make money from culture if we really try.

One of the best investments we can make as a nation is in our extraordinary creative industries. (p. 49)

Resilience remains a key issue, particularly at regional and local levels. Cultural organisations need to ensure that every pound of public investment goes as far as possible. They must also think more broadly how they will adapt their business models and financial strategies to deal with potential challenges to funding. (p. 51)

The value of culture: (p.15)

Culture has an intrinsic value – this is generally appreciated by rich white people and multinational companies.

Culture has a social value – culture can improve the attainment of all people and make them healthier. Some educationalists are beginning to tap into this power in schools across the country. They recognise the value of tradition and powerful knowledge. Some schools are beginning to challenge the orthodoxies of the progressive left and recognise that all along white, European Culture and its values hold the key to a healthier more successful life.

Culture has an economic value. This is the least appreciated aspect of culture. This white paper seeks to radically challenge those who do not understand the economic value of culture. Even museums and galleries pulled in £5.4 billion pounds in 2014 – this is pretty exciting. Heritage tourism pulled in £26 billion. Its time we realty milked culture for all its worth and got a real return for our amazing cultural heritage. Lets face it not every country can boast of a Shakespeare or a vast Empire built on slavery.

 

Glossary of terms. (not on any page)

Culture – This is made by great people often for profit – sometimes it enriches lives too. Culture can both enrich and make money. We need more of this kind of culture. Culture is made by less interesting people too but it generally doesn’t make much money – also it’s often not that good.

Our Culture – too often classical music, opera, ballet and the theatre are caricatured as middle class, white people’s culture. This is wrong and this white paper will challenge this misconception. “Our culture” is universal, transcends history and social barriers and reaches to the inner most soul; it speaks to humanities inner core. We all love, breath and desire – ‘our culture’ answers those needs. It is a coincidence that our culture happens to be made by middle class white people largely from Europe. It’s time everyone appreciated our culture especially poor people and people of colour who have been a bit slow on the uptake. To do this we will put money into our culture and tell poor people to visit more often. We might even knock a few quid of the entrance price for them.

Soft Power – lets face it Shakespeare is great and so are we! Tourists around the world know how good Shakespeare is and they enjoy a trip to the theatre. Its about time we appreciated just what is great about Britian and our values. Its only a very small minority of ultra left wing Marxists who want to spoil our love for British values by bringing up our colonial past and slavery. These Marxists don’t understand Shakespeare. We could all learn from our multinationals.

Education – Culture is best caught not taught. This is why we have introduced the Ebacc so that less students will feel obliged to undergo needless arts study and instead focus on a rigorous and academic curriculum. We hope that students who have bypassed the amateurish need to study the arts might be better placed to appreciate it by spending their money and attending a concert or theatre production. This is the best kind of cultural education – learning to appreciate just how great our heritage is without spending too much time actually doing it.

In Summary

 We don’t care about culture we care about money.

Poor people don’t have the right culture.

Shakespeare is good.

Tourists want Shakespeare.

Poor people should do more to enjoy Shakespeare.

Also they might appreciate classical music a bit more.

Multi-nationals do a lot to help out culture.

the desired and desirable – a music lesson

My appraisal lesson 

In my school you are no longer graded when observed.  I am observed for a full lesson once a year as part of the appraisal process. (Learning walks of 20 minutes are a regular occurrence.) If things go wrong you can be placed on the first steps to capability. It is likely that concerns would have been noted before and concerns can be raised from a number of sources. Still, it shows the potential for misusing even seemingly sound ideas.

My appraisal lesson is a year 9 class – 50 minutes long. We are around 2/3 of the way through the project.

We are required to give students a Do Now activity so they start learning from the moment the bell goes. During break I laid out sheets on the tables. I have produced a simple sheet so that student’s can self assess which badges they have so far achieved in the project and write a target for the lesson. (We are using a tracking/assessment system that is loosely based on video gaming culture. Students work toward certain achievements as defined by musical models. My own model here is the London Nautical School – more on this in a different blog.)

Amazingly the students all sit down as they come in and start to write – ticking boxes – yes I’ve unlocked the “ch-ch-changes” badge. The pips go and by some fluke all my students are already sitting down “learning”. Bell to bell teaching I’m told.

 

A minute later the member of SLT arrives. It all looks good. I’m keen to move on from this moment – having taught music for a few years I know that what students write about their musical understanding seems to have little correspondence to the sophistication of their (practical or should this be intuitive) musical understanding. Still many observers don’t know this. However, the evidence that is the most unreliable seems to be the most desired.

 

There is of course a large part of me that wants students to be able to write about and formalise their own knowledge – its as if I feel the learning will be better my teaching more complete if they are discussing primary and secondary triads. However at the same time I know that a significant challenge is creating a climate in my classroom where all students are feeling valued musically and can express themselves confidently in musical ways.

(It may be argued that a more desirable, productive approach might be  using whole class work shopping. Here’s a discussion of this and the drawbacks of using computers:

https://musicalfuturesblog.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/600/ )

A count down – with a few reminders to students that this means to look at me, stop talking, look vaguely interested.

I have loaded up on the whiteboard a song on Garageband. I ask the students to think about which badges this song would unlock. Its an example drawn from the class.

We listen to 30 seconds of music . Chords bass and a beat all in place – even a melody of sorts.

Great – Think. Pair Share!

Every SLT report has mentioned this technique.

No hands up!

I ask a student to share their thoughts – I pass this comment round “can you extend of what has been said…” we come to an agreement 2 badges unlocked! I wonder how much do I change my teaching to conform to what others might expect to see? Is it possible to find your own voice as a teacher in these days of constant monitoring and supervision? Do I teach now as if I might be observed? Do I try and include the things I know will look good for others? Do I teach to standards that remain distinctly standards imposed no matter how much I try and claim them for my own? Just what is desirable for these students? 

 

Next step. Listen to the same piece. I explain that I have extended and added some parts to the song – they are asked to try identifying what has been changed and why it now meets the criteria for the final badge.

This is discussed and a few things brought to attention – the structure, change of sounds, and the addition of a new melody.

I know at this point extending the discussion can quickly lead to a dead end of misconceptions and increasing random thoughts – or it might lead to a productive exchange of ideas – still its an observation lesson better not risk it.

I tell everyone I have recorded for each student a video detailing what next steps they can take. It’s not something I hold up as model practice but I wanted all students to have something immediate they could watch which discussed their own work.

As if under a spell the class move to the computers and start to load their work and the watch my video. The videos are a few minutes long.

I’m feeling positive about the lesson I look at the observer she is looking worried. What could be wrong? I scan the room and see two students sitting by their computer chatting, they haven’t even loaded their home page.

 

I remember Ofsted inspector telling me my lesson was inadequate because two students had not worked in the first 5 minutes. How do I minimize this risk of off task behaviour and achieve optimum learning? Is rapid progress desirable? 

I walk over and encourage them to make some efforts towards logging in and wonder how I forgot to check in with the students most likely to do nothing.

The feedback seems to have worked. The students who spent most of their pervious lessons telling me “they don’t know what to do” are working – or at least they are not out of their seat yet. This obsession to pin all students down to name their progress – does it help me be a better teacher? What tells me if they have thought about the advice and started to own it as their own? Or are they too stuck with internalising standards which aren’t their own?

 

I spend a few minutes with each student. I listen, ask some questions –“what are you going to do next? How do you want this piece to sound?” We discuss ideas – often I am asked to show again what I said in the videos. Some students uses a formal language chords, melody, quantised, structure others don’t – as it happens I don’t tend to expect all my students to articulate and formalise their musical pieces. I do of course want them to work with the musical materials and be creative. (This being creative, composing and songwriting, making music and recreating songs needs a different blog – but I am concerned how the language of composition is used to exclude other, more informal ways of making and creating music.)

 

For the main part of the lesson I allow the students time to improve their work. And stop a few minutes before the end. I have only a minute or two and so against school recommendations I talk about what we might do next lesson (I should probably invite discussion and peer review)

It’s a safe lesson – including modelling, feedback, discussion, peer review, Assessment, plenty of practical work, a little talk and reflection. It is what I feel might be desired.

I feel relieved – sometimes students don’t always focus so well.

My school has 1150 students –of which around 50% are Bangladeshi in origin and 25% white British – 30% of our students speak English as their first language. Around 78% of our students are eligible for free school meals and Raise Online gives our school a school deprivation indicator of 0.61. Many students seem quite fragile learners. It often seems that they do not want to wait to be corrected and improved; they would rather not attempt the work than try and look like they can’t. Even space and a pedagogy of encouragement sometimes seems to be treated as a trap. Other students though work independently only seeking the occasional bits of advice.

 

Many like to have a great deal of autonomy and ownership but seem to lack the skills and knowledge to carry this through for the lesson. For example, students were originally given three examples of a 4 chord trick to work from – many student immediately asked if they could use a different set of chords from their own songs but then became immediately stuck.

 

Reading Anna Bull’s blog on teaching music she talks about a pedagogy of correction “in my experience so much classical music pedagogy is about correction rather than about exploration.”

I wondered if my approach encouraged enough exploration but also how much scaffolding/modeling was needed before students seemed happy that what they were doing sounded good.

In my observation a student (the student most likely to do the least work) had been asked why he didn’t just sit back and do no work – he responded that his music was starting to sound good and so he wanted to carry on. I know it sounded quite good because I have spent quite a bit of time each lesson sitting with him and showing various ways of playing chords and melody. Just what is the progress? And is it possible to evidence the progress that is the most meaningful? How do we manage to encourage students who have little belief in own musicality to become more confident with musical materials?

Is it possible to develop a pedagogy of encouragement rather than correction? In my view the accountability processes such as my own appraisal lesson are more closely aligned with a pedagogy of correction; problems are seen as flaws to be corrected rather than issues to be explored. There is a growing trend for being more prescriptive about techniques and teaching in the classroom that is sometimes at odds with the growing demands for autonomy in the classroom and the professionalism of teachers.

 

What’s missing from my account is how it feels to be in my classroom; a richer sense of student’s perspective that isn’t reduced to “student voice”. How might I have explored musical meaning more with my students?

 

Biesta notes a difference between “being taught” and the experience of “learning from.” He argues that we need to hold a different conception of teaching than the facilitation of learning:

“This is a story where teachers are not disposable and disposable resources for learning, but where they have something to give, where they do not shy away from difficult questions and inconvenient truths, and where they work actively and consistently on the distinction between what is desired and what is desirable, so as to explore what it is that should have authority in our lives.” p57

 

He argues we should see schools as a place where we are taught and not as a place where we learn. Are my videos showing students possible next steps examples of facilitation in the hope that “students will leave as satisfied customers”? In which case how might I offer a more disruptive lesson which challenges what it is to make music? Or are my videos, showing an alternative ways of completing and ending pieces, a sufficient disruption? At times the gap between what is desirable and desired is difficult to bridge in music education. So often it seems to me Key stage 3 music making is under some pressure to conform to what we might wish to see at GCSE and A level – exams which encourage analytical literacy at the expense of musical meaning. At the same time I am invited to see my professionalism as part of a process, which seeks to reduce risk in the classroom and produce students as happy customers.

 

I am fortunate to work with colleagues and Senior Leaders who are able to discuss and challenge ideas of teaching (and learning). I learn loads from the blogs I read and the online thoughts of the music education community ( See here for example: https://teachtalkmusic.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/classroom-music-a-release-from-the-rigours-of-the-academic-curriculum/ )

– but for me the issue of whose authority to accept – what is desired and desirable – is one that is constantly presented and increasingly difficult to grasp.

 

 

 

 

Creativity, education and hip-hop

To focus on harmony as a repository of significance and creativity is a cliché of white western thought. It might seem that hip- hop, with its lack of harmonic development, is a minority interest of the marginal. However this article suggests it the most listened to genre in the world.

This disparity for me suggests many things: the power of whiteness to represent itself as central when its own values are marginal, the way what we see as creative is limited by who we are and the difficulty of making aesthetic judgements about music when so much of what we believe is limited by who we are. In understanding aesthetic experiences we manage to find pre-existing critical tools to justify our pleasures. The music of our culture often seems completely transparent. It speaks directly.

I include my own teaching in this blindness – how often have I told my students to consider adding more interesting harmonic interest to their composition when I might have focused on rhythmic complexity or the development of subtle melodic and rhythmic variation? It seems to me music education is struggling to recognise the complexities of the aesthetics of hip-hop

When Martin Robinson began his discussion of creativity in this article the genre of punk and prog rock may seem a natural almost insignificant choice of styles in which to frame his discussion. However it is common for punk to be used as a signifier of creative rebellion. Hip-hop is rarely used in this way – despite it being arguably a genre that has unleashed a wider range of creativity and creative music. However hip-hop often seems opaque – there is a lack of engagement and appreciation of its musical riches.

Equally clichéd is the representing of musical development as one genre rejecting and rebelling what had gone before, often without considering its dialectical relationship with its social and cultural context. We are often treated to histories of classical music that discuss each musical period as some kind of development or refusal of its predecessor. However we might appreciate classical music more if we considered it its relationship to the people who created it and their social and cultural contexts.

In my view Martin’s appreciation of musical creativity is limited by his worry that:

        “What of those who know next to nothing, can they be truly creative with only three chords at their disposal? I would say they can be, they might be able to make a blistering song or two but their oeuvre might be somewhat limited after a time. Even the Ramones used more than three chords.

        But Genesis were always dreadful.”

This view is limiting because of the dialectical tension it is proposing between knowing nothing and being Genesis.

 

The students I teach are often limited in their ability musically. Even so they know something. I teach some complex needs students whose cognitive and physical abilities are often at a level that challenges me to rethink what it means to be musical and what it means to learn. However they know something, they have a desire to express something of their own significance, they are still willing to explore and recreate. Some of these students are unable to repeat back two claps, speak, or even differentiate between high and low. However they know something, they want to express something of themselves. We need a view of creativity that is grounded in an appreciation of our prior knowledge of all young people as thinking, feeing people with a right to their own being. I would argue creativity is mundane; a human trait that cannot wait for the permission of education.

In my view Martin is too cautious and worried about the knowledge builders who seek to control what it is we may know. The continuous and almost relentless need to define appropriate knowledge without continuing a discussion of whose knowledge is something which needs challenging. To fit students neatly into the existing knowledge and hierarchies of the world is an education not worthy of its name- particularly when the differences between rich and poor are becoming greater and more entrenched.

No one passively exists. To be human requires the active changing of and response to our cultural world. We choose the music we identify with; we choose how we interact with the musical materials we are given.

To consider the Ramones for a moment – whilst it is true that they managed to compose songs using more than 3 chords – I doubt that any musical criticism trying to convey the significance of the Ramones would linger too longer on their use of power chords over 6 positions on the guitar. I also take issue over this: in using three chords ‘their oeuvre might be somewhat limited after a time.” I wonder what Blues musicians might have felt about 3 chords being a limit to their creative expression? Or what does it me for me as a musician whose favourite band only ever used a few chords and arguably wrote the same song over 4 or 5 albums?

It also seems to me that Martin could make more of the oppositional material he shares. The chords he produces are A E and G. I think it’s worth pointing out that very few of students I teach will have the technical ability to play even these “limiting” chords. This inability to play three simple chords does not stop creative engagement.

Still why teach A E and G? The natural classical educator might want to teach A E and D at least then they would be playing in the key of A major rather than somehow stubbornly remaining at a tangent to any major key. It is fascinating to wonder that the chords chosen are in themselves a rejection of the dominant – tonic hierarchy of classical music.

 

Finally what to make of the proposition that free schools are punk schools? I find this unlikely. Most free schools work well within the dominant framework that exists to regulate schools, many take as their inspiration people such as Hirsh, Willingham and Lemov – none of which are hardly anti-establishment figures.

No – free schools if anything are the ultimate in free market recklessness – fragmenting educational provision for the rights of the individual, irrespective of the collective good. As such they are the ultimate prog rock statement.

 

And even the Sex Pistols sold their soul.

 

Personal is political

I started the day drinking an enjoyable coffee with John Kelleher –I can’t quite get over how he blogs 6 days a week when I can mange only one every two months –we discussed some of the growing pressures on music teachers from SLTs. However despite this challenging context we were looking forward the day and learning more about how to be a better music teacher.

Francois Matarasso opened the event with a fascinating talk.

He discussed how deeply and uniquely personal the reception of music was. He made an eloquent and engaging case for how our musical journey was a deeply personal one.

What I felt was missing was the sentiment captured by that 70’s slogan (Andrea Spain interestingly brought up the politics of the 70’s later in the day) – that the personal was political.

I found the neglect of the how the political, social and cultural connected with the personal highlighted a big gap in his discussion.

For example he outlined a personal history of the highlights of music and listed a collection of white males starting with the Animals. Yes, music is personal but it points also towards the socially constructed nature of music –such as the construction of musical cannons. He did digress at one point to talk about how he learned about other people and their oppression through their music. Nowhere was able to reflect upon how music had highlighted his own ethnicity or privilege. What do we learn about ourselves from our personal journeys? To what extent can we claim to know oppression from listening to music? What commonalities do we share?

He noted how the sound of the Animals was deeply influential in the 60’s. However, as is typical in white histories, the importance of black artists in transforming pop music in England was neglected.

He argued that you couldn’t just expect students to accept art or music when teaching – they had to be ready to accept the gift. This was something I felt captured the dilemma of being a music/art teacher very well.

During the questions he was asked about the nature of the social and personal. Interestingly at one point he argued for the importance of context – saying there was no such thing as the music only the interpretations by individuals. He also made a different statement looking at how the author might have been able to create a space around a piece of work that limited just how far it could be stretched in meaning before it lost meaning.

I wondered if the two positions were compatible. If the author has a say in the space and limits of meaning can you really maintain there are only interpretations of text –the text doesn’t matter. Arguing there was no such as the text is an extreme form of idealism. For me, the neglect of politics and power remains a feature of music education debates.

Martin Fautley reported back on a number of finding around TTM noting some of the limitations and its strengths. Of particular concern was the number of teacher just unable to commit to such a program – the fact remains many people just were not allowed to turn up – an indication of the general climate and the reality of everyday challenges to music teachers.

Robert Wells suggested some ways forward in making sure that we prioritised the values that underpinned teaching. It mattered less to him what pedagogy people used than the values that we approach teaching with. I wonder if some values suggest certain forms of pedagogy more than others?

He spoke of the importance of being an Artist and working with young people as if they were Artists. I liked the clarity of statements around the importance of values. I wondered what made the difference between a good teacher and an artist in residence? Is there any tension in approaching teaching as an Artist and the role of teacher? I like the idea of viewing students as Artists, already on a journey, to be treated seriously as cultural practitioner.

Later there was feedback on assessment and a number of depressing facts were highlighted – such as the dominance of level based assessments. One TTM teacher attempted to show an alternative but even then it seemed the SLT were determined to stop this progressive move and seemed desperate to add some numbers.

Then of course it was my speech. Pretty rubbish overall. So apologies everyone but I was feeling rather sharply the exhaustion of the end of term. However, more soon on my talk in my next blog – hopefully this will be quicker than a couple of months.

I thought the cultural offer section was an interesting contrast to my own talk – talking of culture and its residence in buildings. Why is the audience for classical music predominately white and middle class? This was asked at one point and I think it is a good question but more in my next blog.

Finally Andrea Spain and Music Mark outlined a fascinating future based on the lessons of the last few months. The development of Music Head Teacher Champions is intriguing but who gets to decide just what it means to be a supportive head?

For example a friend of mine mentioned how she had been working in a school were the Head is keen on pushing the Arts. He really values the importance of the Arts for young people.

However at the same time the Quality Assurance processes that are being developed did not support the development of the Arts but attempted to fit it into a framework more suited to the EBAC. It sounded like a desire for consistency across the school was just being dealt with by insisting on a uniformity of approach.

Her line manager was concerned that she had no way of tracking the quality of the teaching and marking in lessons. Why shouldn’t some kind of written commentary of students work be an integral part of the process of feedback and marking – after all other subject teachers needed this?

The series of video evidence build up over time wasn’t enough – what was needed was some evidence that demonstrated that teachers were moving students forward in a day-to-day basis. Her line manager needed a mechanism for evaluating the quality of the teaching that didn’t rely purely on the outcomes.

My friend left the meeting rather despondent. Is this really a useful way of using time? And what does it mean to be accountable to SLT these days? How is parity of accountability managed in schools with successful and thriving Arts Departments?

Maybe this is one of the useful things the Head Teacher Music Champions could do. Highlight effective practice when dealing with Art teams and striking a balance between accountability and trust. Of course from my view a sense of trust seems lacking here but it would very interesting to know how Head Teachers pushing music balance the practical nature of the subject and a desire for written outcomes and measurable feedback. What do they look for as good evidence of teacher impact?

These days much more is made of the consistency of feedback and marking – take for instance the recent Ofsted for Cramlington Village placing it as inadequate. (Mainly it would seem due to the headline figures – not the marking). However, here are a couple of quotes illustrating some of the pressures I imagine Head Teachers are concerned about.

  • −  establishing greater consistency in the marking of students’ work so that they receive and act upon guidance which is of a high-quality across all subjects
  • A detailed analysis of students’ work and inspectors’ checks on the work in students’ books show that the quality of marking is too variable. Teachers do not always check students’ work regularly or offer specific guidance on how work should be improved. Even where marking provides good advice and guidance, for example in some English and mathematics books, some teachers do not check that students have acted to improve their work, and this hampers students’ progress.

 

Of course there is always the possibility the Music Head Champions agree with my friends SLT. What then? It feels as if making people accountable and proving impact steers so much educational thought and practice in schools there is hardly any space left for alternative agendas. As much as like the idea of a team of Heads sharing good practice – it worries me slightly.