Excellent Music Teaching Requires Excellent Music Training

Music teachers have a right to access training and skills development, with the time to undertake it. Are your teachers at risk? CPD can help.

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Schools

Every teacher should have the expertise and confidence to deliver high-quality, accessible music education

Choose your own adventure…

Face down a pride of hungry lions on the African savannah?

Or guide a rambunctious group of Year 2 pupils to tap the pulse and sing the melody to “Cobbler, Cobbler”?

We hope you’ll say “Cobbler, Cobbler.”

But if you’re a primary teacher who excelled in science and maths, has just achieved your NQT status, or recently transitioned into a new school environment, the answer may well be “Lions.”

Why? 

download 3 music warm up activities from Sing Education
Click here to download 3 of our favourite music warm up activities

 


Training is at the heart of why Sing Education exists. We recognised that there were talented and enthusiastic musicians out there, who had the skills and knowledge to be a music teacher, but didn’t have access to the high-quality training needed to work within a primary school setting.

Our training and development is a combination of our bespoke online training programme, in-school induction training, team training sessions, and ongoing one-to-one training conducted by each teacher’s manager. We believe that teachers being able to shadow one another in a variety of school settings, and to bounce ideas off one another in team discussions, gives them a thorough understanding of music education and equips them to teach at the highest level.

—  Alice, Director of Education


 

A group of schoolchildren in uniform are engaged in a music class, with one girl in the foreground confidently holding a drum, ready to play. Her classmates are clapping along, creating an atmosphere of collaborative learning and enjoyment in music education.

Primary Teachers Under Excessive Pressure to Perform

Quite frankly, there’s too much on the syllabus, as it were, for today’s classroom teachers. The number of conflicting priorities that pull at their time and attention is only growing, particularly as schools continue to recover from the learning interruptions brought on by the pandemic.

In the piece National music plan ‘impossible’ to achieve, DfE warned, published by TES, the way forward seems very fraught.

”[P]rimary headteacher Michael Tidd said music was not ‘the only priority in schools,’ and that the ‘massively underfunded need for recovery from the pandemic often tops the list’.

Mr Tidd, who leads East Preston Junior School in West Sussex, cited other areas of pressure, including the ‘near collapse of mental health services’ and ‘demands for 90 per cent attainment in English and maths’.” TES

Still not convinced? 

Let’s take a closer look at the baseline of expectations for the  modern primary classroom educator. Today’s EYFS, KS1 and KS2 teachers are tasked with an overwhelming number of objectives and targeted outcomes:

  • establishing effective systems and routines
  • mastering pedagogical principles such as CLT
  • curriculum design, resource development and assessment
  • not to mention pastoral care and safeguarding 


As a result, there’s often little time or energy for them to build their competence (and confidence) to teach primary school music.


Music can be one of the most rewarding subjects to teach; dynamic, fun, and full of expression. The biggest barrier for most classroom teacher is not time or resources, but confidence. We want to help teachers access their inner musician and give them the spark of inspiration they need to dust off their singing voice and start to experience the joy of making music together again.

— Josh, Director of Operations


 

Music Teacher Recruitment Tumbles, Bursaries Evaporate

A closer look reveals the difficulties with supporting and expanding competence in teaching classroom music starts early in the recruitment-to-trainee-to-teacher pipeline. 

SchoolsWeek, in their article DfE wields axe on teacher training bursaries as Covid causes supply rises, identified a one-off uptick in Covid-related trainee applications as the factor providing Government with a false sense of ongoing recruitment supply availability. 

The result? Teacher training incentives being slashed deeply, many right to the bone.

The government has slashed some teacher training bursaries by as much as 73 per cent, with others scrapped altogether, as the supply of people wanting to be teachers rises because of the coronavirus.

New guidance on initial teacher training funding for the 2021-22 academic year shows all bursaries previously offered by the government to trainees in shortage subjects have either been reduced or scrapped. Education economist Jack Worth described the changes as “really quite radical cuts”. SW

 

download 3 music warm up activities from Sing Education
Click here to download 3 of our favourite music warm up activities

 

This extreme budgetary reset by the Department for Education is directly contraindicated by the findings and recommendations of the Fabian’s Society, a 7,000-member strong think tank dedicated to new public policy and political ideas. 

In partnership with the Musicians’ Union, their research report entitled, A National Music Service: How to Ensure Every Child Can Access a Good Music Education, acknowledged a stark shortage of music  specialist skills amongst today’s new educational recruits and existing practitioners. 

The report clearly cites that the yawning gap is not likely to close any time soon – neither through adequate levels of new hires nor through ongoing teacher training:

“Access to high-quality music education in schools depends on whether young people are being taught by well-trained teachers. This is not the case for many. In primary schools, many class teachers receive limited training in music, which means many lack the confidence and experience necessary to support pupils to learn.” FAB 

Additionally, “At secondary school, recruitment of specialist music teachers is well below the level of vacancies, with just 72 per cent of the required teachers recruited in 2021/22 – and the government has scrapped initial teacher training bursaries for music.” FAB

According to the Fabian Society and the Musicians’ Union, the shortage of new teaching hires with critical skills in music education yields additional challenging consequences for learners. Particularly at risk are students from under-represented groups such as:

  • those from areas of low higher education participation, low household income or low socioeconomic status
  • those with black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds
  • Those with special education needs.

They jointly report that…

“The [DfE] should focus on improving representation amongst the music education workforce, especially of Black and minority ethnic and disabled teachers and leaders.

[Moreover, t]eachers should have access to training on how to best support young people from under-represented backgrounds, including those with special educational needs and disabilities, so they can confidently provide the best possible music education for all and in every setting.” FAB

If this difficult reality resonates with you – hiring shortages, specialist skill shortages, the challenge to deliver music to a high standard for every student – then you’re definitely not alone.

As Jimmy Rotherham, music teacher at Feversham Primary in Bradford and finalist for the $1 million Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, so pointedly relates…

 “I am often asked, ‘How can untrained, unconfident, ‘non-specialist’, ‘non-musician’ teachers deliver music successfully in a primary school?’

My answer is simple. 

They probably can’t, and probably shouldn’t.

Sorry.

But never say never. The good news is that there is no reason at all that these teachers can’t be equipped with the fundamentals they need to succeed – by which point they are no longer ‘non-specialist and non-musical’.” TW

A young student in a green school sweater attentively holds a recorder, preparing to play, while a teacher's hands are seen in the foreground, guiding the child with a mallet, suggesting a musical instruction setting that fosters learning and creativity.
A smiling educator kneels on a colorful classroom rug, reaching into a woven basket filled with musical instruments like tambourines and shakers, creating an inviting and interactive learning environment.

Changing the Trajectory for Teachers of Music

And Jimmy’s 100% correct. 

download 3 music warm up activities from Sing Education
Click here to download 3 of our favourite music warm up activities

As he goes on to say in his opinion piece, we’re facing a crisis but not one that is unsolvable or insurmountable…

“The schools minister claims to value training and believes that ‘the most effective teaching methods should be pursued’ and that we should ensure music lessons are of ‘high quality’. So why isn’t this happening?

It amazes me that a government advocating a ‘knowledge-rich’ education, with a schools minister who supposedly wants every child to leave primary school able to read music can continue to tolerate a system which often wilfully fails to provide teachers, even music specialists, with what they need to deliver this in our primary schools.” TW

In Sing Education’s opinion, to confidently teach music, primary educators need a combination of:

  • expanded curricular training at the PGCE/NQT level
  • ongoing CPD to keep their skills up-to-date and
  • a network of mentors, resources, and “stretch” teaching opportunities to give them a strong framework for long-time career success. 

Note we didn’t include Masters-level training in performance nor an undergraduate degree in digital composition.

The Fabian Society clearly agrees, recommending that:

“The government should improve music-related teacher training and recruitment, working with the education and music sectors. For primary school teachers, the government and teacher training providers should ensure that all trainee teachers receive adequate support to teach music confidently and skilfully. The subject should be given greater prominence in initial primary school teacher training courses, so that every teacher has the expertise and confidence to deliver high-quality and accessible music education.” FAB


Regular training and CPD for our small group and 1:1 teachers keep them on track with our internal management cycle, and helps their understanding of how to deliver effective education, and ensures they can adapt to the changing needs of students. It gives us the opportunity to keep one step ahead of our teacher’s needs heads off any problems, reduces staff turnover; a win for them, and a win for us.

— Bert, Director of Small Group & 1:1


 

Light in the Darkness - Peripatetic, CPD Music Specialists

Working with Sing Education is 

As part of our 360° wraparound peripatetic music service, we offer our partner schools several strands of career support and ongoing music training opportunities, including staff CPD and wellbeing workshops. 

Classroom teachers may be invited by their school to attend one of Sing Education’s special CPD trainings. These sessions are designed to address the ongoing professional development needs of classroom teachers and are a great complement to observing our regular music teaching practice. It goes without saying that these events offer substantial positive dividends for participants – especially in terms of embedding strategies for and building confidence in “whole school music.” Our schools really enjoy the added value they provide.

Programmes can take many shapes but generally include the development and delivery of bespoke train-the-trainer workshops for partner schools.

Also included in our offer are wellbeing workshops where we come in and teach the staff some music themselves. We have found this to be an extremely successful way of developing staff morale and wellbeing within a school.

Lastly, we also offer our staff CPD routes, both our own in-house programmes but also external qualifications and training courses, allow them not just to teach, but to learn through the experience of teaching.

So when faced with the choice…lions or Year 2 music.

Don’t choose the lions.

Choose Sing Education teacher training and CPD.

We don’t bite. 

Promise!

download 3 music warm up activities from Sing Education
Click here to download 3 of our favourite music warm up activities

 

To learn more about Sing Education, including how our music provision, online instrumental lessons and at home learning resources contribute to a well-rounded music curriculum, please visit www.singeducation.co.uk/schools

For even more info, practical tips and guidance, click below to download your FREE “National Plan for Music Executive Summary and Video”

 

click here to download the national plan for music education summary for primary schools
Click HERE to download the National Plan for Music Education summary for Primary Schools

 


About Us

Founded in 2014 and serving more than 16,000 children each week, Sing Education is a first class provider of primary school music education. Focusing on high-quality, singing-led tuition, we deliver a complete solution for schools which includes teacher recruitment, training and management, bespoke curricular resources and educational consultancy services. 

 

Through music lessons, singing assemblies, choirs, after school clubs and instrumental tuition, Sing Education works with students from Nursery right through to Year 6. Our core philosophy is that “Every Child Has A Voice,” and, as educators active in the classroom, our directors and teachers know firsthand how much young learners benefit from exciting, rewarding music education. 

#SingEducation #MusicInFocus #HubsAndSpokes

 

Sources:

  1. National music plan ‘impossible’ to achieve, DfE warned TES Times Educational Supplement
  2. DfE wields axe on teacher training bursaries as Covid causes supply rises SW SchoolsWeek
  3. A National Music Service: How to Ensure Every Child Can Access a Good Music Education FAB Fabian Society
  4. As above
  5. As above
  6. The truth about primary music specialists TW Teachwire
  7. As above
  8. A National Music Service: How to Ensure Every Child Can Access a Good Music Education FAB Fabian Society
A smiling woman with glasses, wearing a floral blouse and a lanyard, is engaged in a conversation with a person whose back is to the camera. They are seated indoors, with a bookshelf filled with various books and educational materials in the background, creating a warm and inviting educational environment.

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