The Arts in Education and Education in the Arts - Part 3 Jump to main content

The Arts in Education and Education in the Arts - Part 3

Part 3 – Making it happen! The importance of Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

I asserted in Part 1 that the National Plan for Music Education (NPME) gives us the best opportunity we have for improving the quality of music education for all young people in England and that it requires us all to do two things: to challenge what is happening where provision is not good enough; and to support efforts that will lead to improvement. In Part 2 I proposed that there is a place for the ‘arts in education’ and for ‘education in the arts’ and that the two are often intertwined. I argued that we must be clear about what we are doing, how we augment provision in schools, and that we must not compromise quality or reduce expectations.

In Part 3 I want to address the issue of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for professional educators (class teachers), professional artists and what I will refer to as ‘artist/educators’1, or, as I am focussing specifically on music, ‘musician/educators’. Others will be able to decide how much these observations translate to other art forms.

Many class teachers in the primary school lack confidence and expertise when teaching music and yet their Qualified Teacher Status requires them2 to ‘have a secure knowledge of the relevant subject(s) and curriculum areas, foster and maintain pupils’ interest in the subject, and address misunderstandings’ and to ‘know and understand how to assess the relevant subject and curriculum areas’. It is the school’s responsibility to provide them with the necessary CPD. Often the most effective CPD is working alongside a ‘musician/educator’ such as learning an instrument as part of a First Access programme, or composing with the children as part of a project. Effectiveness is improved further when the class teacher is empowered to help the children between visits by the ‘musician/educator’. Reinforcing learning between visits can raise awareness of concepts not fully understood as well as improving skill acquisition and relationships, especially when a student can help the teacher!

The ‘musician/educator’ can also learn from the class teacher with regard to managing behaviour and how different children learn. Everyone who interacts with children as part of a planned learning experience needs to have some basic knowledge about how children learn and how to support them in that learning.

There will usually be a specialist music teacher in secondary schools – all too often, just the one! Ofsted has repeatedly reported on the challenges that result from this isolation3. The NPME, with schools as key partners in the hubs, provides the opportunity for young people to benefit from a broad and balanced education, drawing on a wide range of musical genres accessed through other hub partners. As the Plan states:

Great music education is a partnership between classroom teachers, specialist
teachers, professional performers and a host of other organisations.

Once again, the Plan’s central message of ‘quality5’, ‘challenge and support6,’ and the use of central funding to ‘augment7’ not ‘replace8’ school funding is key. Through the wise use of music resources and through partnerships with the music education hub: professional musicians, organisations and ‘musician/educators’, all young people can have access to a broad and balanced music education beyond the particular skills and interests of the school’s own specialist music teacher.

Thus, I would argue that there is a place for:

  • the educator – a classroom based teacher with sufficient skills, knowledge and expertise to teach their subject on a regular basis and to support children’s learning
  • the musician/educator – who will be a highly capable musician with an interest in and a commitment to working, often over sustained periods of time, directly with young people within an educational context, possibly as part of a portfolio career; and
  • the musician – who brings inspiration and motivation to the world of education.

Each of these professionals needs access to appropriate training and CPD.

Indeed, professional development and ensuring all young people have a quality experience was deemed sufficiently important to allow funding for this purpose to be counted as part of the front line delivery element of the public funding. Hub lead organisations must invest in high quality CPD - even at the expense of fewer young people initially benefitting directly. The longer term gains for young people of a professional workforce, delivering high quality music education, are not only worth that investment but essential to the future of music education. And the full implications of this for terms and conditions of employment have to be understood and accepted. Schools are responsible for funding the CPD of their own staff – challenged and supported by the hub. The music education hub is responsible for ensuring those who ‘augment’ and ‘support’ through the hub are appropriately equipped to do so.

Making it happen: making music together is the subject of the final part of this quartet of articles.

1See also Booth ‘The Universal Elements of Teaching Artistry’
3See and
4NPME page 3
5NPME pages 3, 4, 7 and 8; paragraphs 1, 4, 5 and throughout the report
6NPME paragraph 31
7NPME paragraph 9
8NPME paragraph 81

Richard Hallam
ISM President-Elect and music education consultant