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Education consultations update: January 2021

The Department for Education and Ofqual currently have three consultations open which affect music education in England.

We are encouraging our members to respond to share their views and you can read our responses below.

Responding to consultations like these are an opportunity to actively encourage the Government to ensure teaching music remains part of a broad and balanced curriculum. This is just one aspect of our lobbying efforts with the DfE, alongside our regular meetings with civil servants, MPs and other stakeholders and our lobbying work across each of the devolved nations. Together, the ISM and its members can ensure that all pupils are able to access the rich benefits of studying music.

Summer 2021 Qualifications

Background: The consultations are seeking views on how to award grades in 2021 in a way that reflects students’ performance accurately. It is proposed that students’ grades will be based on their teacher’s assessment of the standard at which they are performing, rather than the standard they would have normally been expected to achieve at the end of the course had their education not been disrupted, as they were in 2020.

Our position: With many students not being able to complete the non-examined assessment components of music and music technology courses, we believe giving grades based on work completed so far will not be an accurate reflection of a student’s ability or equitable to last year’s results. We have therefore submitted a response which calls for qualifications to be awarded based on Centre Assessed Grades in exactly the same way that they were in 2020.

Level 3 Qualifications

Background: T Levels have been introduced for 16 to 19-year-olds who want to progress into skilled employment or onto higher levels of technical education and are designed to ensure the offer the firm prospect of a sustainable job and career. There are currently 3 T Levels available in digital production, design & development, surveying & planning for construction and education, childcare & design. A further seven T levels will be available from September 2021 and the remaining courses will start by 2023. There are no T levels in music or music technology.

The Government is proposing to fund additional specialist qualifications, which would be alternatives to A Levels. These would enable progression to specialist Higher Education courses, like those in the performing arts, however they have not yet provided detailed information on what these courses would look like. It is also unclear whether they would replace the current options such as those offered through Pearson, Rockschool and NCFE. One of the Government’s proposals is to offer an additional ‘small’ performing arts qualification which would only be worth the equivalent of one A Level, rather than the current options which are worth three A levels.

Our position:
We have submitted a response which outlines the need to keep funding the current range of Level 3 vocational courses in music and music technology and to ensure that any additional specialist qualifications are the equivalent to a full programme of study.