THIS week’s call by Ofsted’s chief inspector for the school curriculum to be broadened is even more pertinent in the wake of today’s report that music education is in danger of disappearing from some state schools.
This isn’t just occurring in those schools where music – and other creative lessons – are regarded as an optional extra. It’s happening in areas, like Queensbury, Bradford, which is home to the original Black Dyke Band and proud of its musical heritage.
Here Foxhill Primary School sustains its arts programme by asking its brass band – and choir – to perform outside a local supermarket in order to raise funds to pay for lessons for the next year.
In one regard, it’s fortunate that the school has teachers who are passionate about music. In another, it’s not one of those schools scrimping to pay for the very basics like pens and paper.
Yet, in many respects, it is symptomatic of the challenges facing schools. For, while it’s important that schools meet attainment targets, whether it be Key Stage tests for primary schools or GCSE exams for secondaries, there’s a sense that a relentless focus on exams has come at the expense of ensuring students complete their formal education as well-rounded individuals with a varied range of interests.
Schools were never intended to be exam factories, and little else. They are expected to stimulate. Not only do lessons in music, art and sport provide a change of pace from lessons in traditional subjects, but they will also help pupils to broaden their horizons.
After all, music is a dynamic industry in its own right, it could, in fact, be a career option for the gifted, but the chance to play in an orchestra or band, or sing in a choir, can help youngsters forge friendships, become part of their community and also develop into even better citizens. They shouldn’t be denied this opportunity.