Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
Printable version E-mail this to a friend

Developing music partnerships in schools

A report published recently by Ofsted highlights the benefits and pitfalls of partnership working in music education.

The report, Music in schools: sound partnerships, was commissioned by the Department for Education in November 2011 as part of the National Plan for Music Education.

Most of the schools visited for the survey used partnerships to offer a greater range of music activities than the school could provide by itself. However, in too many cases these were not managed well and did not improve long-term outcomes for pupils.

Ofsted’s National Advisor for music, Mark Phillips, said:

‘There is much to celebrate about music education in England. At their best, music partnerships provide a whole range of opportunities and set high standards for the music education young people receive. Those who take part in our youth orchestras and choirs, or who receive additional instrumental and vocal tuition, benefit greatly in their personal, social as well and musical development. But, as the National Plan for Music Education recognised, this is not the case for all groups of young people.

‘Schools need to monitor much more closely the effectiveness of the music education they are funding and delivering to ensure it is having a long-term impact on pupils, particularly the most disadvantaged. Buying in additional instrumental and vocal teaching is not a guarantee of improving outcomes for pupils, however expert or reputable the partner organisation.

‘This report highlights the reasons why too many schools are not making the most of partnership opportunities, as well as showing some truly outstanding practice.’

Five key actions taken by the most successful schools emerged strongly during the survey. In these schools, music education partnerships were used well to:

  • ensure good value for money, through rigorous monitoring and evaluation
  • ensure equal access to, and achievement in, music for all groups of pupils
  • augment and support, rather than replace, the classroom music curriculum
  • improve the practice of teachers and music professionals
  • improve senior leaders’ knowledge and understanding of music education.

Notes to Editors:

1. The report Music in schools: sound partnerships can be found on the Ofsted website at

2. The report is not a commentary on the National Plan or the new music education hubs; at the time of publication, the hubs will have been operating for just one month.

3. While Ofsted does not inspect music services or hubs, judgements made during visits to schools may include evaluation of teaching provided by visiting music professionals and, in the future, by specialists provided through the hubs.

4. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children's social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

5. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 03000 130415 or via Ofsted's enquiry line 0300 1231231 between 8.30am - 6.00pm Monday - Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359 

Associated resources

PDNS: Mandatory Active Cyber Defence for Public Sector Networks. Latest Guide