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Ofsted music subject report

Hi everyone. Please keep an eye out for an email inviting you to 4 free events we will be running for you this year - 2 teach meets and 2 network meetings. I also look forward to seeing lots of you at the Hub Conference (info below). If you haven't got a place yet but are able to come, then please do follow this link and add your name to this booking form.

Hampshire Music Hub Conference 2023 - Workshop Info Booklet 2023
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Hampshire Music Hub Conference 2023 - Presenter Info Booklet 2023
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A new music subject report (from Early Years to 6th Form) was published by Ofsted on the 21st September 2023. It comprises research and analysis based on research visits that took place between June 2022 and June 2023 and also Ofsted findings during this period. It is called Striking the Right Note and can be found at:

It makes for an interesting and useful read that highlights several issues for music education in secondary schools including. Here are the key points related to secondary music from the report's main findings:

  • Inspectors found considerable variation in the amount of curriculum time allocated to music in key stage 3. In just under half the schools visited, leaders had not made sure that pupils had enough time to learn the curriculum as planned by the school. This meant that, in these schools, pupils were not adequately prepared for further musical study.

  • In most secondary schools, curriculum leaders organised the key stage 3 music curriculum into termly or half-termly blocks. These blocks typically focused on a different style or genre of music. In most cases, the blocks stood as isolated units. While leaders had considered pupils’ musical development in each unit, far fewer had considered their longer-term musical development across the key stage.

  • The strongest aspect of the curriculum in primary schools was teaching pupils to sing. In secondary schools, curriculum content that developed pupils’ singing and vocal work was far rarer. Singing was a significant aspect of the curriculum in only a very small number of secondary schools. Most secondary schools did not build on the strong progress and enjoyment that pupils had experienced in their singing at primary school.

  • In most schools, the weakest aspect of the curriculum was teaching pupils to become better at composition. Very few schools had considered the underpinning knowledge that pupils need in order to learn how to construct and deconstruct music.

  • In some schools where music provision was more effective, pupils received high-quality instruction, sufficient practice time and ongoing feedback to improve their musical responses before learning new content and concepts. However, more commonly, at key stages 1, 2 and 3, the focus was on covering the activities rather than making sure that content was learned to a high standard.

  • In around half the secondary schools visited, leaders made sure that staff had access to subject-specific training. Typically, teachers in these schools regularly engaged with professional music associations and local music hubs. This work was helping many music leaders to improve their music curriculum. In contrast, in other secondary schools, music teachers were left isolated or were given in-school support from non-music specialists. Consequently, they often had too few opportunities to develop their understanding of effective curriculum design in music and their knowledge of music pedagogy.

  • The inequalities in provision that we highlighted in our last subject report in 2012 persist. There remains a divide between the opportunities for children and young people whose families can afford to pay for music tuition and for those who come from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

  • Inspectors found a significant disparity in the range and quality of extra-curricular opportunities among schools. In approximately half the schools visited, there was a strong extra-curricular offer that included instrumental groups and choirs. In these schools, leaders valued these activities and saw them as integral to promoting pupils’ wider musical development.

If there are areas covered here that you would like more support with or advice on, then please do get in touch.

Have a great week.


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