From the Review’s initial assumptions, through to the government’s response, Mr Gove and Mr Vaisey have demonstrated their belief in and support for music. They have further confirmed this with, what in the current climate, is generous dedicated funding .
Mr Henley has provided a strong and clear understanding of the landscape of music education in England together with 36 recommendations which are equally strong and clear. We are particularly delighted that Mr Henley has recommended that there is further work to be done to understand the positive impact that technology can play in our music education system.
The previous government did not respond to the call for a digital component, to our music education system, following the second Music Manifesto report. It was, in our opinion, a missed opportunity to provide a broader blend of solutions that would move us closer to the widely shared aspiration that all children should have the chance to learn a musical instrument and sing.
We know that an e-learning model can significantly increase participation levels in school based musical instrument lessons, we’ve seen it happening live in classrooms. A model for e-learning should work alongside existing methods of delivery, especially when part of a school based music hub. It can be available online, at school and at home, and help music teachers and practitioners reach and support many more students than is currently possible.
The appropriate use of digital curriculum and interactive technologies, alongside traditional music tuition, bring enormous benefits, including the:
- Increase in access and participation
- Provision of additional affordable and sustainable models of delivery
- Ability to evidence pupil progression
- Support of higher standards and levels of attainment
- Up skilling of musicians so that they can continue to, and in time, increase the contribution music and associated creative industries make to the UK economy.
The Wider Opportunities model of instrumental tuition, for a single year group, has provided many more children with the chance to learn a musical instrument, but, the scheme itself shines a clear and bright light on the ‘elephant in the room’, namely, scale. It is clearly not possible to deliver sustained instrumental tuition using the existing traditional models of delivery alone – there will never be enough money and there will never be enough instrumental teachers.
Mr Henley indicates in his report that Wider Opportunities programmes may, in the future, need to be just a term in duration before the requirement of a parental contribution. Ofsted, though, have clearly indicated that many schemes, however good they are in themselves, are already not of sufficient duration to enable children to learn to play an instrument in a way that supports genuine progression.
We believe that the system can do more, if we add: digital curriculum, interactive technologies, workforce development and innovative, cogent delivery models.
My colleagues and I worked hard on our submission to the review and we understand that further work to be undertaken to develop a national plan for technology would be a part of the National Plan for Music. We have written to Mr Gove today to ask that we and our other e-learning industry colleagues and partners be actively included in the process.
Now that Mr Henley has completed his Review, we will be releasing our submission for wider consideration.
Government Response to Henley Review
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