Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
Simply ‘doing’ music is not enough
Ofsted has published its latest research review looking at music education in schools.
Yesterday’s review is part of a series of research that examines different subjects across the curriculum. It draws on the evidence from the education inspection framework (EIF) and other literature to examine the contributions that can make a high-quality music curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, and the impact of school leaders’ decisions on music provision.
Read the music research review.
In England, all pupils should study music until the end of key stage 3. This expectation is reflected in the national curriculum and is at the heart of the EIF.
However, the number of pupils taking up music at key stages 4 and 5 continues to decline. Key stage 3 music provision has also been reduced and trainee primary teachers are offered shrinking amounts of musical training. And with reduced lesson time, this has been accompanied by lower levels of staffing to support a school’s rich musical life.
Therefore, it is more important than ever for schools to find ways that put high-quality music at the core of the curriculum.
Our review starts from the assumption that a central purpose of a good music education is that it enables pupils to perform the work of others, explore their own creativity through composing work and, through wider listening and engagement, come to a broader understanding of musical culture and meaning.
There are various ways that schools can construct and teach high-quality music curriculums. Our report identifies some common features that schools may want to consider in developing their music education, including:
- Curriculum content that might reasonably be mastered in the time available, remembering that sometimes less is more.
- Plentiful opportunities for pupils to return to and consolidate their short-term learning, with repetition of key curricular content and gradual introduction of new ideas, methods and concepts.
- Curricular scope that includes enabling pupils to develop technical control over the sound they are producing through the voice or instrument.
- Extensive listening opportunities to help develop pupils’ musical understanding.
- Space and time for pupils to explore the constructive components that build musical compositions and use these effectively to compose their own music.
- Opportunities to gain knowledge of how music over time and across cultures has been a conduit for human expression.
- High levels of guidance for beginners, remembering that pupils in every key stage are sometimes novices, with increasing freedom as pupils gain greater competence.
- Judicious use of summative assessment to identify pupil misconceptions or inaccuracies.
- Adequate curriculum time and regularity to allow musical learning to take place.
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman yesterday said:
Music touches the heart of our humanity and its sense of wonder has influenced human societies throughout history. For many pupils, the music they love will be part of the narrative of their lives.
Music is part of the curriculum but simply ‘doing’ music is not enough. We shouldn’t be satisfied with just having music on the timetable. We need to be ambitious about what we expect for music in the classroom and make sure that time is well used. So I hope the review provides helpful guidance for schools on designing and developing a high-quality music curriculum.
Ofsted plans to publish a report on the quality of the music curriculum taught in schools in 2022. We will gather the evidence for this through subject ‘deep dives’ during inspections under the EIF.
To find out more about Ofsted’s curriculum work, read the principles behind the research reviews and subject reports.
Latest News from
Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
Ofsted to review two education catch-up reforms22/09/2021 12:10:00
Ofsted has been asked by the government to carry out an independent review of two key catch-up reforms: tutoring and teachers’ professional development.
Ofsted launches updated guidance for summary evaluations of multi-academy trusts14/09/2021 12:25:00
Updated guidance explains how Ofsted will carry out summary evaluations of multi-academy trusts.
Ofsted and HMI Prisons say it is time to give prison education ‘the attention it deserves’10/09/2021 13:15:00
The Chief Inspectors of Ofsted and HMIP have written a joint commentary discussing the impact of COVID-19 on prison education and announcing the launch of a new prison education review.
Launching our prison education review10/09/2021 10:33:00
A joint commentary by Chief Inspectors Amanda Spielman (Ofsted) and Charlie Taylor (HM Inspectorate of Prisons).
Amanda Spielman at researchED National Conference 202107/09/2021 13:15:00
The Chief Inspector discussed Ofsted's research on education during the pandemic, remote education and curriculum (04 September 2021).
Ofsted publishes annual report and accounts 2020-2116/07/2021 13:33:00
Ofsted yesterday published thier latest annual report and accounts for 2020 to 2021, highlighting thier work and financial information for the last year.
Amanda Spielman at the 2021 ADCS conference12/07/2021 15:15:15
Ofsted's Chief Inspector recently (09 July 2021) discussed the impact of COVID-19 and recent work at the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) annual conference.
Inspections to look at how schools and colleges work to prevent sexual harassment, online sexual abuse and sexual violence29/06/2021 13:15:00
Ofsted yesterday published updated education inspection handbooks, clarifying how inspectors will assess how schools and colleges confront sexual harassment, abuse and violence among children and young people.