The Ofsted Music Subject Report 2023: Help with implementing the recommendations

Here at Music Education Solutions® we’re all about providing, well, solutions for music education! With the arrival of Ofsted’s Music Subject Report, our sector now has a set of recommendations to consider and work towards addressing, and we’re here to help you with that.

Curriculum recommendations

Schools should make sure that:pupils, particularly at key stage 3, have enough curriculum time to develop their musical knowledge and skills incrementally; the curriculum identifies precise end points in performance, composition and listening work, and then sets out the knowledge and skills pupils need, step by step, to reach these end points; the curriculum builds, incrementally, pupils’ knowledge of the technical and constructive aspects of music

If you’re looking to implement some of these ideas at your school, then a great way to start might be by joining one of our Curriculum Design in Music webinars, or taking our online self-guided course which has the same content but delivered in a more flexible format.

Primary schools might also benefit from our Development & Progression in Primary Music course, which again comes in webinar or online self-guided format. This will help you to select appropriate ‘end points’ on which to base the progressive steps within your curriculum.

If you think you might need more support, then we offer Curriculum Consultancy, which can be anything from an audit of your curriculum documents, to mentoring you through the process of writing your own curriculum, to writing it for you.

Do make sure you check out our blog too, where we have a series of posts all about curriculum design.

Pedagogy and assessment recommendations

“Schools should make sure that:teachers provide ongoing feedback to pupils that improves the quality of pupils’ music making both in terms of technique and expressive quality; teachers routinely demonstrate to pupils what high-quality musical responses sound like, and the processes for achieving those outcomes”

These two outcomes are challenging in schools where music is taught by non-specialists. We would recommend our self-guided online course Confidence in Primary Music as a starting point to help teachers develop their own musical skills and understanding, which is fundamental to being able to model for and feedback to pupils.

We also have a brand-new webinar this year Developing Core Skills in Primary Music, which will help teachers understand the specifics of developing core skill areas such as performing, composing, listening, and notation reading.

We already have online self-guided courses on Improvising at KS2 and Composing at KS2 which help teachers understand the best pedagogical approaches for teaching these disciplines (highlighted in this latest Ofsted report as an area for development for most schools), and we are soon to release similar courses on listening, notation reading, and history of music.

On the assessment side of things, a great option would be our Planning and Assessing Primary Music online self-guided course, which looks at the mechanics of planning lessons and assessment systems, or our Dive Deeper into Music course which covers intent, implementation and impact of music in primary schools, and is available as a webinar or a self-guided option.

Systems at subject and school level recommendations

“Schools should: actively seek the support of local music hubs or other sources of expertise when developing and improving the curriculum; support subject leaders to develop a curriculum that deliberately and incrementally teaches all pupils to become more musical; continuously develop teachers’ subject knowledge, including their musicianship skills and their understanding of what high-quality music making should sound like for pupils in the age group they teach; this approach should align with the choices set out in the school’s curriculum; make sure that all pupils can develop their musical talents and interests, by offering extra-curricular activities and instrumental and vocal lessons”

Sorry for blowing our own trumpet here, but we do consider ourselves to be a source of expertise! We are always happy to support schools through our consultancy services, INSET packages, and events such as the Curriculum Music Conference.

We also provide two unique pathways of support for subject leaders, the Primary Music Leadership Certificate and the Secondary Music Leadership Certificate. These blended learning courses are specifically designed to develop subject leadership skills, and we run regular cohorts throughout each academic year.

Recommendations for other organisations

“Those involved in writing commercial curriculums should clearly identify what pupils should know and be able to do (and what this should sound like) before moving on to the next stage of learning. Music hub leaders should continue to develop and build relationships with school and trust leaders to support them in developing their curriculum and wider musical offer.”

As ever we are here to support music hubs with all aspects of their work, particularly supporting schools. We know hubs sometimes struggle with capacity, so if you’re looking for a partner to deliver some or all of your schools strategy, then ask us about our consultancy and INSET services. We can also help with reviewing any curriculum documents that you may have already produced, and/or creating supporting resources to help teachers use them effectively. Click here to join our mailing list