As many others last night, I watched Channel 4â€™s â€˜Donâ€™t stop the Musicâ€™, phone in hand and hashtag at the ready, and was fascinated by both the programme and by the Twitter debate.
Having spoken to James and his research team earlier in the year, I was pleased to see that they had concentrated their efforts on one school that really needed their help, and it was heart-warming to see the effects on pupils, parents and staff. Those of us who have been involved in the Wider Opportunities scheme (now rebranded as First Access) were of course not surprised by this, as we have seen the power of this kind of work since 2003, but itâ€™s great to have this thrust into the pubic consciousness in this way.
What really struck me whilst watching the programme, and what I discussed at length with Jamesâ€™ research team, was the obvious and overwhelming need for workforce development for music. Both the classroom based staff and the well-meaning students from the Guildhall (bravo for getting involved in education, by the way, and not just seeing it as something you do if your performance career doesnâ€™t work out!) and even, dare I say James himself, would have benefitted from the type of training which Hubs offer to their First Access tutors before they let them loose in the classroom. Of course we only saw the end result of two weeks work in the programme, but I would encourage anyone interested in this kind of scheme to watch for comparison the Trinity College London Music Tracks film, which shows clips of what fantastic results Ealing Music Hub tutors achieved with their First Access pupils within their first 6 hours of learning.
The National Plan for Music highlights the importance of workforce development, and makes clear provision for this through the Level 4 Certificate for Music Educators (CME) and through the Music Education Hub extension role to provide CPD for school-based staff. I am hopeful that this programme will encourage more primary teachers to develop their music teaching skills, and more musicians to train as music educators (these two things are not the same!) Then, alongside Music Education Hubs, with the support of Ofsted and Arts Council England, we can work together to close gaps in provision and ensure parity in access to and quality of music education in England.
â€˜Donâ€™t Stop the Musicâ€™ continues next Tuesday at 9pm on Channel 4.
Elizabeth Stafford is Director of Music Education Solutions Ltd