The recent music subject report from Ofsted made for interesting (if not entirely unexpected) reading. It has its ups and its downs!
I was delighted to see that singing was recognized as a strength in primary schools – something that we at Out of the Ark have played no small part in, as the largest and longest-established provider of songs and singing resources to the primary education sector.
It was also good to read that there is a thriving and strong musical culture in around a quarter of the primary schools Ofsted visited for this report. What, though, does this mean for the remaining 75%?! It’s a fact, commonly acknowledged by all of us involved in music education, that many schools still struggle to provide the kind of musical education which should be the birthright of every single child in this country. I believe the reasons for this are many and varied, but that three main points lie at the core:
So, what can we do to help the 75%? At Out of the Ark we have clocked up many years of experience leading initial teacher training, and fully understand the importance of developing teacher confidence and boosting teachers’ subject knowledge. Our fantastic SCITT partner programme empowers and enables hundreds of new teachers each year, not only to feel confident in singing and teaching music as a subject to their classes, but also to feel inspired to start developing a classroom singing culture that goes beyond the music curriculum. We’re also really proud to continue this work with our fabulous partners at NASBTT.
Speaking of developing a musical culture, I am pleased to see how closely our Sparkyard Music Curriculum aligns with Ofsted’s recommendations and ambitions. We were particularly careful to provide a resource that would support teachers in developing and mastering their subject knowledge, creating a scheme that would be accessible to all– and, crucially, one that would allow and encourage schools to take control of their own curriculum planning.
A summary of Ofsted’s report might read, ‘Good progress, could do better…’ Certainly, I and my co-workers at Out of the Ark will not rest until the vision we share with so many of our friends and colleagues working in this space – that of high-quality music education accessible to all – has been realized.