The new inspection framework has suddenly put music back on the map in a major way, which puts me in the unusual position of feeling grateful to Ofsted! Finally primary schools are able to prioritise subjects like music which may have languished uncared for and forgotten as schools scrambled to prove their worth through English, Maths and Science.
Now that schools are able to focus on the full range of subjects, we need to be careful that we are not simply trying to tick boxes for Ofsted, otherwise we will create a whole other set of limitations that we end up having to work to. In fact, it’s important to remember that the Deep Dive process actually isn’t about the subject, it’s about using the subject as a lense through which to identify systemic successes or problems across the school. We therefore shouldn’t be worrying about ‘what Ofsted want to see in music’ but about ‘how to do music well.’
How to do music well is a context-specific consideration. ‘Good’ (in a non-Ofsted sense!) primary music provision will look different when delivered by specialists compared to non-specialists. It will look different depending on the teaching resources chosen. It will look different in urban, suburban, and rural schools. It will reflect the culture of the school community in the genres and traditions studied, and its definition of cultural capital. Above all it will meet the specific needs of the specific children that you teach, taking into account the specific skills of your staff and the specific resources that you have available.
So don’t let anyone tell you that you have to do music a certain way, not even if that person is an Ofsted inspector!
Dr Elizabeth Stafford, February 2020
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