Kirsty’s research is investigating how the assessment of composing in UK secondary school examinations is impacting the teaching and learning of composing within schools.
Martin Fautley (Birmingham City University), Pam Burnard and John Finney (Cambridge University), Pauline Adams (Institute of Education), Jonathan Savage (Manchester Metropolitan University).
- How can composers and teachers be supported to work most effectively together?
- How do professional composers make judgements about the quality of compositions and what are the indicators of progression? What correlation is there between these criteria and those of exam boards?
- What does creative progression look like – for example the difference between a Year 7 and a Year 9 composition – and how can we ensure progression within the secondary curriculum, particularly given the genre-based approach?
- What are the challenges around assessing creativity and how can students be supported to take risks, fail and experiment in a system where assessment is central?
To read more go to: http://www.bcu.ac.uk/research/stories/listen-imagine-compose
To read full REF report download the pdf: Birmingham City University – 25 – Creativity in Education
Written by: Martin Fautley, Professor of Education, Birmingham City University
On Tuesday 22/3/16 I attended the London Mayor’s summit on music education, a prestigious event held in the equally prestigious surroundings of City Hall, on the banks of the Thames, overlooking Tower Bridge. Nice! It was, however, a curious event in many ways in my opinion, and I shall try to explain why here.
My role was to be on a panel concerning CPD and teacher development. I, and some of the BCU music education team, have been working on evaluating the Teach Through Music programme in London (read the reports here), and I was happy to talk about it, as I feel it has been a good thing, and made a difference. But more on that later…
The day began with an address by Nick Gibb, the Minister of State for Schools, which can read here . This opener set the tone for some of the overall oddness of the day. NG didn’t mention the white paper ‘Educational excellence everywhere’, which had come out the previous week, at all. What he did talk about was a music education which seemed to me to be almost entirely to be about learning to play an instrument, and/or singing.
OK, yes, he did mention the National Curriculum, but seemed to think it was about performing and listening only, composing never got a mention. But then neither did universal academisation, which has the potential to make the NC nugatory and otiose, so maybe the omission of composing is how those at DfE towers want to think of music education? Some nice children singing madrigals, and playing some Purcell and Bach will be very pleasant, won’t it? I don’t move in the rarefied atmosphere of the upper political echelons, so don’t know if it is normal for a politician to do his stuff then go (‘eats, shoots, and leaves’!), but there was no opportunity to ask questions at all.
One primary school teacher heckled from the floor “no forced academisation!” but that was as interactive as it got.
Read the teacher’s own reflections on the day here
Then there were a series of panels, presenting on various aspects of music education. Then a rather nice buffet lunch, with a chance to talk to people. Networking, and getting a feel for the zeitgeist, is an important part of such days, I always think.
Following this, in the afternoon sessions, something began to bother me quite a bit, this was a mounting feeling that, as the late, great, Yogi Berra said, “It’s like deja-vu, all over again!”. Music Excellence London (MEL) had just spent a shedload of money on music education in the capital (that’s another issue, I know, especially as I’m writing this in Birmingham), and yet I got the feeling that people in the audience who maybe weren’t teachers didn’t know about this, hadn’t read the work on MEL and evaluation that Trinity Laban, Music Mark, Sound Connections, Alison Daubney and I had done, and didn’t seem to have engaged with what a longitudinal CPD programme might entail. There seemed to be a lot of “well, we can offer a splendid Chinese nose-flute CPD session for teachers”, rather than a joined-up, clearly articulated, research-informed programme, which MEL had entailed.
Now I know I am getting old, but parading one’s ignorance of history used to be something that was looked down on, now it seems to be something that is celebrated. If we had worked like that in ancient times, every few years or so someone would say “look, I’ve invented the wheel”. It struck me that a number of people there from the floor, as it were, were either thinking out loud in public, or making observations that betrayed that either they or their organisation had something to sell, or that they had little conception of what life is really like for a busy classroom music teacher. Alongside this, there seemed to be little knowledge or conceptualisation of what has gone before. When one of the contributors mentioned he had been taught by Brian Dennis, I wondered how many people had read his ‘Experimental Music in Schools’ book of 1970? Or, sadly, I also wondered how many have read, or even know about, the important music education book published the same year by Paynter and Aston, ‘Sound and Silence’? It struck me then that what might be termed the ‘institutional memory’ of music education is in real danger. I said in my mini-talk “we have to both know stuff, and know how to teach stuff”.
This, for me, is important. And “knowing stuff” includes stuff that we have done before. Whilst we need – and want – new entrants to music education, we also need – and want – them to know something of what has been done in the past. So, the thought that was bothering me became crystallised – why do we seem to be still asking the same questions, ignoring the all the work, research, and words that many people have written (especially my words, I put a lot of effort into them!), and trying to start again?
I had been hoping that the summit would be a high point, a pinnacle, literally, a summit, to look back upon the achievements of MEL, which are, from my perspective as one of the evaluators, very highly significant indeed. Instead it felt to me like we were down at base camp bickering about whether we wanted Kendall Mint Cake or Lucozade, whereas in my view we want – and need – both!
It also reminded me that in teacher education we used to run sessions on philosophy, history, sociology, and psychology of education, but they have long gone. And now as government thinking seems to be that learning to be a teacher involves basically “sitting with Nellie” (which, incidentally, is described nicely and pejoratively by Oxford reference here http://bit.ly/1RCRXqt), there will be little chance of inducting people into the rich community of practice of music education; which is a shame, as both Gove and Gibb have cited Matthew Arnold’s notion of “the best which has been thought and said”, and there is a lot in music education which falls into this description. But then Gove dismissed me and my ilk as “the Blob”, so maybe this is just my blobby thinking!
Anyway, in conclusion, this isn’t meant to be a criticism of the organisation, or of the arrangements, which were all fine, but just the feeling of “here we go again”. I think this is a worry, not just for music education, but for education generally. There is a lot that has been “thought and said”, and it ill behoves us as a sector to ignore, downplay, or negate this. After all, as Burke said “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it”!
“I have been wondering recently whether we are seeing the beginning of the end of music education as we know it.”
Martin Fautley, our Professor of Education has written about his worries in relation to music education in the UK. With many people in the creative industries apposing the EBacc (http://www.baccforthefuture.com/) and fighting for music and the arts in schools it has prompted a lot of debates and discussions at Birmingham City University. What are your thoughts or concerns with the reforms happening in education?
To read his full blog please visit: https://drfautley.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/in-which-i-worry-about-vogons/
Some good news to start 2016 – A group of BCU School of Education researchers have been accepted to present a range of research at the European Association for Music in Schools. Research will be presented by:
- Victoria Kinsella, Research Fellow, @
- Martin Fautley, Professor of Education, @ Alongside Director of Learning for Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Nancy Evans, @
- Sam Clements, PhD Student
- Kirsty Devaney, PhD student, @You will be able to follow their journey over to Vilnius, Lithuania through twitter: @
Download and read the full research on AS and A-level composing assessment here: http://www.ism.org/blog/article/composing-research-teacher-attitudes
Martin writes a very successful blog all to do with music education and assessment. Here is he latest called ‘An A-Z of music education’ in which he mentions things like Garageband, jamming, assessment, and dinner time! https://drfautley.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/an-a-z-of-music-education/
Martin writes a very successful blog all to do with music education and assessment. He makes us question how and why assessment is done in music, but he also relates it to wider questions about education assessment:
To read the full blog go to: https://drfautley.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/a-short-blog-in-which-i-worry-about-flightpaths/
Written by: Martin Fautley, Professor of Education, Birmingham City University
Hello internet, and welcome to the new blog for the Centre for the Study of Practice and Culture in Education at Birmingham City University!
We are hoping that this blog will be a thinking point for all matters to do with education, from the very youngest children, through schools, colleges, and academies, to FE and HE contexts, and then on into lifelong learning. Our main aims are to be thought-provoking, questioning, and to offer a home for voices which might be contentious at times, and which challenge orthodoxy! We intend to be eclectic, and so we looking for contributions on a wide range of educational topics.
We also want to really get to grips with education. We pride ourselves here at BCU on having very detailed ‘corridor conversations’ (we have very long corridors in our Attwood building which make this possible!), but we want to open up these to the wider world via the power of the internet.
It is important to say that we don’t always agree with each other, and so views expressed in this blog will be the properties of the person making them, and certainly not representative of the University! I also tell my students that sometimes I will argue with them for the sake of it, and they shouldn’t therefore take this as being representative of what I think, but that this will help expose thinking, and I’d like to think that will be true of this blog too. Although as a regular twitter user I am very familiar with what seem to be arguments solely for the sake of it – let’s hope we don’t have too many of those! But there seem to be so many things happening in education that make us education professionals cross at the moment, and so I am hoping too that this blog will carry some of those.
So, it’s now over to you, please feel free to contribute, please feel free to respond, and let’s try and make the educational world a better place by thinking out loud in public, and taking new ideas and ways of working forwards.