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Classroom music from 2014: the new National Curriculum

- 8 July 2013

Michael Gove: ‘A tougher, more rigorous national curriculum’ from September 2014

The Department for Education today released details of the proposed new national curriculum in England, scheduled to come into effect in September 2014, with music a statutory requirement up to Key Stage 3 (up to age 14).

The structure for music is subtly different from that proposed at the beginning of a consultation process launched in February, adding references to improvisation and music technology.

The consultation officially closes on 8 August but today’s document is a good representation of what teachers in maintained schools will be working to from 2014.

It says that the purpose of studying music is to ‘engage and inspire pupils to develop a love of music and their talent as musicians, and so increase their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement,’ so that pupils eventually develop ‘a critical engagement with music, allowing them to compose, and to listen with discrimination to the best in the musical canon’.

  • The work of great musicians has been added to that of ‘great composers’ as a central pillar of the programme, aiming to ensure that all pupils ‘perform, listen to, review and evaluate music across a range of historical periods, genres, styles and traditions’.
  • Pupils should ‘learn to sing and to use their voices, to create and compose music on their own and with others, have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, use technology appropriately and have the opportunity to progress to the next level of musical excellence’.
  • Musical creation is addressed, with improvisation now added to composition as a skill which should be taught at age 7 to 14 (KS2&KS3).
  • Pupils should be taught both staff and other types of notation in KS2 and KS3, raising the possibility that from 2021, all 14-year-olds could be music readers.

Michael Gove called it ‘a tougher, more rigorous national curriculum’ and placed children’s education in the context of a competitive global economy. ‘It will raise standards across the board and allow our children to compete in the global race,’ he said.

David Cameron said: ‘As a parent this is exactly the kind of thing I want my children to be learning. And as prime minister I know this revolution in education is critical for Britain’s prosperity in the decades to come.’

Free schools and academies are not required to follow the national curriculum.

The outline of plans for music is available in this document, from page 217.

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