Leading the way on GCSE reform Jump to main content

Leading the way on GCSE reform

There is a lot of debate about the future of GCSEs at the moment.

Most of these changes affect England, but because awarding bodies – like Edexcel and OCR – work across borders, the changes will have an effect on all those studying GCSEs.

GCSEs in arts subjects are under threat – it has already been suggested that the GCSE in drama may be abolished...

Whilst music isn’t under the same level of threat, it has never been more important stay ahead of the curve and make sure we don’t get cut!

At the ISM, we have been helping to protect music education at Key Stage 4 by leading on the reform of GCSE music.

In September 2012 it became clear that the Government was planning to make the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) league tables a critical measure of accountability for schools, introducing new ‘English Baccalaureate Certificates.’

If these reforms only covered maths, English, sciences, languages and history and geography, other subjects – like music, dance, drama and art & design – would have been hit hard.

We needed to make sure that music would continue to be valued: We started work right away on what a new GCSE might look like.

An expert panel consisting of John Stephens OBE, Richard Hallam MBE, Edward Watkins and Dr Alison Daubney looked at what could be changed if GCSE music were to be re-written.

This initial work was then passed to the music education sector as a whole to generate discussion and debate.

This work has now come full circle and – as the professional body and largest subjects association for music – we want to know what you think of GCSE music.

Do you think that composition should be examined through a portfolio of work? Should performers record their work? Should ensemble performance be a requirement or merely an option?

We want you to tell us what you think of GCSE music. There is a short survey online. Alternatively, you can view the current subject criteria published by Ofqual online or you can download the latest draft of the music GCSE from the ISM website and let us know what you think by emailing Henry Vann, our Public Affairs & Policy Officer.

Henry Vann
Public Affairs & Policy Officer

Henry has put together a GCSE reform glossary which you can find in the Advice & documents section of this website.