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Music in Schools: what hubs must do, the challenging conversation with schools

Executive summary This document is a response to the Ofsted report released on the 15th of November 2013 titled Music in Schools: what hubs must do. The report sub heading is ‘The challenging conversation with schools’. This response is primarily aimed at school leadership, head teachers and governors, but is also intended for wider use by stakeholders such as hub partners and parents. “The report is based on visits to 31 schools, and detailed discussions with their associated hubs, by Her Majesty’s Inspectors between February and July 2013, within the hubs’ first year. It draws also on findings and recommendations from other recent Ofsted music subject reports, which have consistently concluded that music provision in schools is often weak and poorly led” (1). The purpose of this response is to:    

summarise Ofsted’s key findings and recommendations express our view on the report explain to schools and stakeholders what we are already doing explain to schools what we will do in response to the report

The overriding message from the report is that hubs are failing to make an impact on day-to-day music curriculum teaching and therefore failing to support schools in raising standards in pupil attainment. Although hubs continue to deliver instrumental tuition, ensembles and important projects, these are reaching only a minority of pupils. The message to schools is that they are not doing enough to engage with hubs and to seek the expert advice available. The standard of music curriculum teaching in schools was ‘too often’ found to be poor with inadequate musical content. School leaders should make better use of the hubs to help evaluate their music provision more accurately. Ofsted invites schools and hubs to have a “challenging conversation”.

The report essentials What does it say? Ofsted state “This short survey report challenges all music education hubs to be bold in implementing the National Plan for Music Education and to grasp the opportunity to lead, with schools and other partners, improvement in schools on a major scale”(2). Key findings summary (3) 

The hubs’ work in 22 out of the 31 schools visited was little different to that provided by the former local authority music services. Too little had changed. In nine schools, however, the advent of the hub had made some difference, not least by beginning to improve the quality of dialogue about music education with the school. 1|Page

1, 2, 3, 4 & 5. Music in Schools: what hubs must do. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/music-schools-what-hubs-must-do


Music in Schools: what hubs must do, the challenging conversation with schools 

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In all but a few of the 31 schools visited, the music curriculum lacked depth and rigour. Most school leaders in the survey understood neither these weaknesses nor that the local music hub could be a source of expert advice and support in bringing about improvement. In some schools, hubs found it hard to get noticed, especially by senior leaders, and gave up too easily. In eight of the schools – six primary and two secondary – the hub’s involvement was either non-existent or irregular. Too often, hubs provided or sold music services to schools without asking about the schools’ existing music provision and failed to challenge the school to improve it. Teaching provided to schools by the hubs visited, such as in the First Access programme, was often separated from the schools’ own provision; it was not part of a coherent music curriculum in each school. Those hubs that had been traditional local authority music services, with leaders whose main experience was in providing instrumental teaching, found it harder to understand how they might engage and challenge schools about teaching in class lessons. Some more successful hubs had started tackling weaknesses in schools’ music teaching, for example by introducing systems whereby hub staff had periodic discussions about how it could support the school in improving music education. Arts Council England asks hubs for considerable amounts of numerical monitoring data but is not yet able to gauge the quality of hubs’ work, or help hubs to do so. The hubs visited could not show how their work in schools provides, or will provide, best value for public money. We must expect greater impact on music education for all pupils in schools.

Recommendations (4) Music hubs should, by April 2014, each prepare a school music education plan that enables them to:        

promote themselves with schools as confident, expert leaders of music education in their areas, not simply as providers of services expect and secure that all schools engage with them and the National Plan for Music Education have regular supportive, challenging conversations with each of their schools about the quality of music education for all pupils in that school support all schools in improving the music education they provide, especially in class lessons, and support them in evaluating it robustly offer expert training and consultancy to schools, which supports school leaders and staff in understanding what musical learning, and good progress by pupils in music, are like ensure that their own staff and partners are well trained and ready to do this work spend a suitable proportion of their staff’s time on working with school leaders strategically, alongside their work in teaching pupils directly publicise their work effectively to schools and explain how it can contribute to school improvement 2|Page

1, 2, 3, 4 & 5. Music in Schools: what hubs must do. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/music-schools-what-hubs-must-do


Music in Schools: what hubs must do, the challenging conversation with schools   

facilitate school-to-school support as appropriate promote high-quality curriculum progression in schools and ensure that hubs’ work in schools is integral to this robustly evaluate the impact of their own work on pupils’ music education

Schools should:   

make better use of the provision and funding provided through hubs as part of the National Plan for Music Education expect music hubs to provide them with expert advice and challenge – the challenging conversation – and take action on this evaluate their musical provision more accurately, especially teaching and the curriculum, and seek training and advice as needed

Newham Music Hub’s Response Newham Music Hub’s response to the key findings Whilst Newham was not inspected we recognise all the issues highlighted by the report and accept the key findings. Some of the findings will make uncomfortable reading for senior leaders and governors as they have done for hub leaders. We are excited by the challenge the report makes to hubs and schools and feel it is important to be bold and positive in our approach. The stand-out points for NMH are:     

music curriculum in schools lacked depth hubs need to show greater impact on music education for all pupils school leaders did not understand that music hubs could be a source of expert advice and support in bringing about improvement in some schools, hubs found it hard to get noticed, especially by senior leaders teaching provided to schools by hubs was often not part of a coherent music curriculum

Of course we all want children and young people in Newham to have a vibrant, dynamic and ultimately meaningful music education experience in school and in the wider community. We have been working very hard to improve our own performance and to engage with Newham Council’s ECaM programme. Whilst we can evidence a vast improvement in our own performance, we are unable to demonstrate progress with the council despite significant effort on our part. It is time we use the available resources in a more joined-up and intelligent way.

3|Page 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5. Music in Schools: what hubs must do. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/music-schools-what-hubs-must-do


Music in Schools: what hubs must do, the challenging conversation with schools

Newham Music Hub’s response to the recommendations We accept the recommendations directed at music hubs and are already addressing many of the points raised. Specifically, we are preparing a ‘school music education plan’ for each school. Existing knowledge of each school accumulated through our ‘Schools Engagement Programme’ will form the basis of the new SMEP. The plan will be developed in consultation with each school. Ofsted should be able to visit any school in the borough - together - we will be able to produce the SMEP plan for inspection. The plan will seek to support a coherent music curriculum in each school and to support improvement in existing music provision. With regards to the recommendations directed at schools we encourage senior leaders to constructively consider the position of music in their school. What more can be done to support music in the curriculum and the place of music in the wider cultural life of the school? Ofsted suggests schools should “make better use of the provision and funding provided through the hubs as part of the National Plan for Music Education” (5). What next? In the New Year:  we launch a Music Education Strategy for the borough of Newham (Jan)  we will be holding a schools’ information evening for senior leaders, subject leaders and governors (Jan)  we will be contacting all schools inviting them to contribute to their own individual ‘school music education plans’ (Jan-April) We accept that, for one reason or another, there may be schools that do not want to engage with Newham Music Hub. Perhaps the school has had a past bad experience or feels they have sufficient internal expertise. We encourage all schools to reassess the value of the hub, particularly in light of the recent National Music Council award.

Conclusion On the day the report was launched, Newham Music Hub was attending the Music Mark conference to hear directly from Ofsted’s Robin Hammerton, HMI National Lead for Music and to receive the prestigious Music Hub ‘Diploma Award’ from the National Music Council at the music education awards. The ‘Diploma’ award is given to hubs and local authorities across the UK that are able to demonstrate imaginative, inclusive and all round high-quality music provision. We have come a long way in our first year but we are not complacent and realise the substantial task ahead. 4|Page 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5. Music in Schools: what hubs must do. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/music-schools-what-hubs-must-do


Music in Schools: what hubs must do, the challenging conversation with schools

Our aim is to make a positive difference to how music is taught and experienced in every school in the borough. We don’t see why the conversation with schools should be difficult. We all want the same outcome. Our commitment: To work with schools and parents to improve all aspects of the quality of music education and to ensure excellence of all so that recognised and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all. We will do this through:   

working in partnership with schools to prepare a ‘School Music Education Plan’ by the end of April 2014 ensuring that if we don’t have the internal expertise available to support a school, we will use hub resources to find a solution continuing to encourage LBN to engage with Newham’s comprehensive ‘music education strategy’

What are others saying about the report? A collection of views from Youth Music can be found at: http://network.youthmusic.org.uk/groups/musical-inclusion/discussions/music-education-hubsofsted-report-links-blogs We recommend that senior leaders and governors refer to the excellent ISM document titled ‘Supporting better music education’. The briefing document is written “specifically for senior leaders in schools, hubs and arts organisations. It covers the key points you need to pick up from Ofsted’s report on music education.” Key point example: In primary schools, and at key stage 3, the planned curriculum in the schools visited was too often a shallow musical odyssey, with … units of work on various styles of music [e.g. world music, blues, hip hop, rap and pop]. … it was rare for links to be made between them. This document can be found at http://www.ism.org/news/article/supporting-better-musiceducation Music in Schools: What hubs must do, can be found at http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/musicschools-what-hubs-must-do

5|Page 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5. Music in Schools: what hubs must do. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/music-schools-what-hubs-must-do

Music in schools ofsted response final  

This document is a response to the Ofsted report released on the 15th of November 2013 titled Music in Schools: what hubs must do. The repor...

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