Chief Executive blog
Clearly, everyone involved in music education has been given much to think about. To create a new musical landscape will mean adopting more flexible attitudes and being open minded about change. Fast.
As a way of unpicking the recommendations the FMS National Executive has agreed to focus on a number of the key challenges and start the process of formulating responses and plans. Not every recommendation in the Department for Education’s document is discussed, but here is a brief summary of our thinking to date.
The provision of Music Education should remain a statutory requirement as part of the National Curriculum.
Music Services enjoy a unique relationship with Schools and the FMS agrees strongly with the Henley Review recommendation that music remains a statutory part of the National Curriculum. The FMS believes that in order to ensure that England remains a musical nation it is crucial that we win this debate. The FMS is working with others (including NAME, MEC and ISM), to provide clear, strong evidence and information for the Curriculum Review, to prove the key role music
plays within a child’s education.
The Henley Review also stated that ‘Music should be included as one of the subjects that go to make the English Baccalaureate.’ The FMS, and others across the music education sector, agree that unless music is brought into the Baccalaureate it will seriously impact on GCSE participation and in some cases it will simply not be made available. We stated within our submission to Government that “We urge the Education Select Committee to think long and hard about why music must be included. There is so much evidence to demonstrate the literary, cognitive and social benefits that a musical education brings beyond the intrinsic joy of music in its own right. The gulf that music would leave by its absence would be catastrophic.”
The Department for Education and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport should work together to develop a national plan for Music Education in England (the National Music Plan).
Music Services will be one of the key stakeholders working with Government and others to develop the National Music Plan. The FMS will make sure that the development of the plan draws on the expertise and unique perspective of Music Services as music educators and quality service providers.
…should work together to create Music Education Hubs in each Local Authority area…
Music Services need to play a key role in shaping the new music education landscape. They have to ensure that children access an excellent music education locally matched to educational outcomes which are determined by the National Music Plan. The Henley Review has highlighted the necessity for strong and effective partnerships creating and delivering exciting hubs to meet the needs of children within a locality. Music Services must be at the heart of the hubs and work with others to make sure that all the music education needs of children are met. Because the needs and resources of each area will differ there can be no standard format for a hub, one size will not fit all. FMS is providing training and support materials for Music Services to assist in the development of the best hubs for each area.
A new qualification should be developed for music educators, which would professionalise and acknowledge their role in and out of school…
The FMS will be included in the discussion group and would look to ensure that the views of Music Services are fully integrated into the development of this new qualification. The FMS will undertake an audit of Music Service current workforce in order to gain a clear picture of the current employment situation.
…It is recommended that a credible and experienced management training provider be commissioned to provide a nationwide management development scheme targeted specifically at music educators.
The FMS has an effective leadership training programme (Rising with the Tide) and is keen to make sure that our role in supporting leadership development within the sector is recognised and further developed.
All music teachers should be encouraged to register on a national database, which allows them to use a kite mark. This would provide parents with a base-level of quality assurance.
FMS is happy to work with Government to advise on the best way of moving this forward. We would want to ensure that the resulting system was valuable and linked to a genuine assessment of quality assurance.
As part of the National Music Plan, further work should be undertaken to develop a national plan for the use of technology in the delivery of Music Education – and to ensure that the workforce is up-to-date with latest developments…
The FMS is keen to work with the Government and other partners to explore how technology can best be used in the delivery of music education. We will be contacting Music Services across the country to identify any Members who have specific expertise in this field and we can make sure that their knowledge and experience is utilised within the development of the national technology plan.
The Music Education world is fragmented and uncoordinated. There are too many organisations that have overlapping areas of interest. These organisations need to join together to create one single body.
The FMS notes the Government’s concern about the range of music education voices and the potential for a lack of clarity. The FMS will continue to talk and work with other organisations to explore ways in which fragmentation in the music world can be lessened and co-ordination improved. We are keen to work with national partners to move music education developments forward and access the specialist skills and perspectives each one brings to benefit children’s music education. The FMS is working with partners on a practical and strategic level in our training, project work and organisational development and will continue to build relationships with partners based on mutual respect and trust.
There is no doubt that we enter the New Year with many unanswered questions and still facing many challenges. The FMS is determined to continue to provide support, encouragement and leadership for Music Services during these difficult times.
In the Autumn we had very constructive and positive face to face meetings with key Government Ministers (Ed Vaizey and Nick Gibb). As these meetings took place after we had submitted our responses to the Comprehensive Spending Review and to the Henley Review we were able to discuss our submissions in the context of the meetings. We furthered these specific relationships when the Ministers sponsored events for FMS and Youth Music at Portcullis House. Further events, celebrating the work of young musicians and Music Services, were also sponsored by Don Foster and Ben Bradshaw. MPs and Government Officials were invited to these events and we were able to promote the work and achievements of Music Services and outline the issues and challenges faced by them. Letters to MPs and further distribution of the ever popular ’10 Things’ leaflet ensured an on-going raised political profile for Music Services.
In November we also partnered Music for Youth and hosted a box at all three evenings of the Schools Prom. This enabled us to further our key advocacy and promotion by raising awareness of the work that Music Services do in progressing young musicians from across England and Wales.
We recognised the difficulties faced by many Music Services due to the uncertainties of local authority funding decisions. On an advocacy and lobbying level we ensured that Ministers, MPs and Senior Civil Servants were all aware of the problems faced by Music Services due to the delay in central government funding announcements. We encouraged local authorities not to make decisions until the outcomes of the Henley Review were known. On a practical level we partnered with ISM to provide clear advice and guidance to Music Services regarding local lobbying and advocacy work. We also introduced a ‘Hotline’ ensuring that any Head of Service knew they could phone another experienced FMS Member for one-to-one support.
We have ‘stepped-up’ our media work and have successfully promoted our key messages about the value and role of Music Services across a range of publications and the BBC. We have consistently used the media to reinforce our message about the danger of funding for music education being directly allocated to schools.
We are awaiting the Henley Review announcements and anticipate hearing about the ‘transitional’ arrangements for 2011 before the end of January. The ‘Burning Issues’ event on February 7th will enable us to discuss and plan for this. We aim to face 2011-2015 proactively, positioning ourselves ready to shape the future of music education (and not just react). The Burning Issues event will be the first one of our preparing for change events. We will also hold three more in the early Spring, once the full Government announcements regarding plans and funding are made, in the North East, West Midlands and London. These events will ensure that Music Services are given the necessary support and information allowing them to thrive in the new music education landscape. Our annual conference in June will further this work.
Please do contact me directly if you have any ideas on ways in which FMS can provide further support for you and your Music Service.
I am delighted to have joined FMS as the Chief Executive. In June I was able to attend the FMS conference in Belfast and I felt privileged to see the Celtic Fusion performance (featuring drummers, dancers and traditional musicians). As someone who is new to the area of music education I was moved by the passion and skill of all the performers. I was struck by the fact that these young people had clearly benefited from strong and proper leadership from their music services, encouraging and enabling them to fully develop their skills and their confidence.
I have joined FMS at a time of political and economic challenges and I am determined to work with you to ensure that, through FMS, music services receive the respect and acknowledgment they deserve. The FMS needs to be better recognised for the excellent work it does, to receive more credit, to flourish and to establish its proper role within the sector.
I want to work closely with FMS members, to listen to your views, opinions and concerns and to establish clear strategies with you to meet the needs of a diverse sector. I want to have a dialogue with music services, their workforces and the wider sector. Through these conversations I will be able to ensure that I can undertake effective advocacy and lobbying for music services at the highest level.
I believe passionately in the value that the arts can play in the lives of all children and young people. I have over 20 years experience working across all art forms and supporting children and young people’s development through creative and cultural education. I have a proven track record in leading organisations and lobbying on their behalf.
Finally I want to thank John Witchell for the excellent work he has done as FMS Chief Executive over the last 3 years. I am pleased to report that, as a result of John’s letter, I have been invited to meet with Nick Gibb, when parliament reconvenes.
I look forward to hearing from you; my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org . I plan to visit all regions over the next few months and hope to meet with as many of you as possible.
At the beginning of the self evaluation programme I referred to the concept of ‘eudaimonia’ as a way of describing happiness. I read about it in Charles Handy’s last book, ‘Myself and other more important matters’, in which he reflects on his own life and the principles that made him move from being a high-powered and wealthy executive in Shell, to someone who relied on his writing and lectures to bring in a fraction of his previous income. Handy pointed out that eudaimonia is not just about the surface features of happiness, such as ‘lying on a beach with a glass of wine and a book, or having wanton sex with the person of your dreams’, but is more about ‘flourishing’, or doing your best with what you are best at.
I suppose that is one of the reasons why I am now retiring gracefully as Chief Executive. I have found much happiness in the FMS, even though it hasn’t included lying on beaches or having wanton sex! And I have found satisfaction in doing my best for music services. But there is a but! It is that like many leaders in music education I have let my own musical skills slowly decline - and I remember my predecessor Colin, saying much the same thing. You see I think that what I do best is making music; I’m first and foremost a musician, albeit a rusty one. So, I now aim to renew the musical skills that I once had - tackle the piano music of Messiaen amongst other things! - and contribute to my local music scene.
So with this final blog as Chief Executive it’s au revoir to the FMS - but it is not goodbye, since I will still be around for the MSEP programme. May I thank everyone for their supremely generous farewell gifts and their support and friendship over many years. I would particularly like to express my thanks to the wonderful team at Otley and all my colleagues on the executive. I will have very many happy memories of working with such a superb bunch of people and will reflect on the privilege of contributing to such an important music education organisation. On the theme of flourishing I want to emphasise that, even with the very significant challenges that all music services are facing, you will, I’m sure, always flourish musicially. The current Government has said that it will meet with FMS in the autumn and, even though times are tough, the signals from the DfE and DCMS are that they really want to build on our achievements over the last few decades. So we must remain determined and resilient and ensure that our message is conveyed with power and authority.
That is why I know you will all welcome Virginia Haworth-Galt as your new Chief Executive and support her as she leads music service advocacy on your behalf. Virginia brings a fresh perspective to music education and will apply all her numerous skills and energy to the task of achieving the aims of music services - for the sake of all children, families, schools and teachers. Meanwhile I might spend more time cultivating my garden, as Voltaire suggested in Candide. However Voltaire also said, ‘ How infinitesimal is the importance of anything I do, but how infinitely important it is that I do it.’ So, because we believe that music education is infinitesimally important, let’s make sure that we always do it - we always make music.