A Doe, A Deer, A Female Deer

What does good music look like? The Department for Education has issued two sets of guidance on the matter – the National Curriculum for Music Education and the National Plan for Music. Here we explore these mandates and look at Sing Education’s role in developing music excellence at your school.


National Curriculum for Music

The overriding principles of the 2014 National Curriculum for Music are threefold, to develop a love of music, to develop that talent as a musician, and to increase self-competence, creativity, and sense of achievement. This has been broken down into three key aims for children to experience across each Key Stage – perform, create, and understand. The plan then details what the content should cover, including things such as learning to use the voice expressively, to sing songs and chants, to understand staff notation, and to appreciate and understand music of different traditions, amongst many other things. 

At Sing Education, we have extracted all of the keywords, aims, and principles included in the National Curriculum and have developed our extensive music curriculum with these things woven throughout. We look forward to seeing the new model music curriculum and to further developing our Schemes of Work as a result. Because of our close ties to the educational sector, we have been invited to input into this new model curriculum, participating in a forum for stakeholders who work with SEND music to ensure an inclusive framework.

National Plan for Music

High quality music education enables lifelong participation in, and enjoyment of, music, as well as underpinning excellence and professionalism for those who choose not to pursue a career in music. Children from all backgrounds and every part of England should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and to make music with others.

This is how music charity Music Mark summarises the guidance issued by the Department for Education in the National Plan for Music Education. The 2011 publication outlines the aims of the plan and how it would affect schools, local authorities, and private music teachers. The plan extends to 2020 and a new plan is soon to be published. 

The plan has several purposes – first, to set out the importance of music in education. Second, the plan sets out guidelines for all children, from all backgrounds, to have the opportunity to make music, to play an instrument and to sing. Third, it states that all schools should provide high quality and consistent music education. The plan goes on to affirm that all children should have opportunities to play and perform in a whole class ensemble and that all schools should have a singing strategy. Lastly, the plan also discusses a need for a better skilled music workforce and a need for music CPD, Continuing Professional Development, and local networks for music teachers.

Inclusion and SEND

We await the new National Plan for Music Education previously expected in 2020, but possibly delayed due to the current crisis. We have also had the opportunity to speak into the new National Plan for Music Education and are in conversation with the Department for Education having been invited to discuss ways to ensure this plan is inclusive to SEND children. As highlighted earlier, the vision of the National Plan for Music Education is to enable children from all backgrounds and every part of England to have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, to make music with others, to learn to sing and to have the opportunity to progress to the next level of excellence. Music teaching starts in the early years and we want this vision to extend across all five to 18 year olds, both in and out of school, in both formal and informal settings. 

Guidance in Practice

Finally, one important thing to note is that while the plan provides professional guidance for schools and music practitioners, it also states that music teachers and class teachers should retain freedom in how they teach music. That said, all schools are mandated to provide high-quality music education as part of a broad and balanced curriculum and that all maintained schools should be following the National Curriculum for Music for ages five to 14. 

It’s this flexibility that we encourage schools to lean into when exploring an engagement with Sing Education. What works best for your school? What skills, delivery capacity and resources exist within your current provision? How can music help reinforce core pupil behaviours such as good citizenship, teamwork and kindness? We work closely with schools to ensure that the music programme we propose is a good fit for both music education AND for whole school, whole curriculum education.

Three KS2 primary pupils sitting on floor of hall, red xylophone in front of them, one pupil holding yellow beater

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