By Jo Buckler on 30 Nov 2018
The run up to Christmas is a busy time of year for any teacher. However, for the Primary Music Coordinator, it can be a particularly stressful time of year.
From writing, rehearsing and staging Christmas productions, arranging choir performances and end of term concerts... it’s no wonder music coordinators are feeling the strain!
But is it fair that we expect so much at this time of year from them? And what about the other 11 months of the year? Is music an area of the curriculum just to be rolled out for the festive season?
Fortunately, it would seem not. At One Education we have the privilege in working in many schools and academies across Greater Manchester who offer a broad and balanced curriculum to all children and believe in the value of a rich and diverse curriculum.
What does Ofsted think...
And it looks like the proposed Ofsted changes, which are due January 2019, will back those head teachers who have continued to ensure that music and the arts have not been squeezed from their school curriculum.
Speaking on October 2018, Amanda Speilman, HM Chief Inspector of Education has said that
“…..these changes will move Ofsted’s focus away from headline data to look instead at how schools are achieving these results, and whether they are offering a curriculum that is broad, rich and deep, or simply teaching to the test”
The school curriculum design
Ofsted wants to ensure that a school’s curriculum design, which is a framework for setting out the aims of a programme of education, has:
Intent – the knowledge and skills to be gained at each stage
Implementation – Translating that framework over time into a structure and narrative, with an institutional context
Impact – Evaluating what knowledge and skills pupils have gained against expectations
So, what is the role of the music coordinator in all of this?
In particularly, where do you start if music in your school has seen a squeeze due to the pressures and demands of SATs results and target setting?
Firstly. Don’t panic. Help is out there.
Know your curriculum
Top Tips for Music Coordinators
1. Speak to other music coordinators
Most Music Hubs offer network meetings for all primary music coordinators giving music coordinators the opportunity to meet with others and to discuss challenges and successes.
One Education will be running their next meeting on 21st January 2019 and it’s free for all Manchester schools (£30 for all other schools). Have you booked your place?
2. Find out what is happening in your school and carry out an audit
Carry out an audit of staff needs: Are they teaching music? Are they confident in delivering music? When? How? What are they using?
Also carry out an audit of resources that you have. You’ll be amazed what instruments you’ve got knocking around at the back of cupboards!
3. Use what support you already have in school
Ask your visiting music teachers for support. The national curriculum states that “children should be taught to appreciate and understand a wide range of high-quality live and recorded music drawn from different traditions and from great composers and musicians." You most probably have high-quality live musicians in your school on a weekly basis – have they ever been asked to play their instrument for assemblies, other classes etc?
After completing a staff audit you may also be surprised to find out which member of staff have a musical background. The first school I worked in, the caretaker just happened to be (one of the many) bass players of The Fall. Extremely handy when it came to needing any amps for the Christmas concerts.
4. Set yourself small and manageable targets.
If curriculum music is not being taught consistently in your school, start by teaching it regularly in your class and build on from here.
Remember, change needs to be sustainable and Rome wasn’t built in a day.
5. Deliver a staff meeting
It is vital that you keep music on the agenda, so ask your SLT for a staff meeting where you can share resources, discuss planning and outcomes. If you’d rather not deliver the training yourself then get in touch with someone who can.
6. Arrange CPD for yourself and others
One Education delivers a one-day course for Music Coordinators, guiding them on how to effectively lead music throughout their school. They also will provide bespoke curriculum training in-school in the form of staff meetings, demonstration lessons, observations or a combination.
7. Check out resources (many are FREE!)
- Your local music hub/music service
- BBC 10 pieces. This website has great resources, planning, music to the listen to and they also offer free CPD from time to time
- Classical 100. A brilliant, brilliant free website
- On-line resources such as SingUp, Charanga, Music Express – but beware! Try before you buy! There is absolutely no point in spending your music budget on an online scheme which nobody uses
8. Make an action plan, prioritise and ask SLT for help
So, as we head towards the wonderful madness and mayhem that is Christmas in a primary school, consider your music curriculum and what is happening music-wise in your school.
If curriculum music is not being taught regularly and consistently – why not? And what steps do you need to take to ensure that it is?
Music is an entitlement for all children. And remember, music education is for life, not just for Christmas.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jo Buckler is an Early Years and Primary School music specialist who has experience of teaching music in schools across Greater Manchester and the North West. Beginning her primary teacher career in a large, diverse, Manchester school, she led music and enrichment across the school, becoming an Advanced Skills Teacher in 2004.