Sunday, October 19, 2014

Victorian Election Campaign Action

As we move into a 6 week Victorian Election period, we have produced some support materials to connect with your local candidates:

  • pdf posters for email correspondence and social media
  • Letter guides to candidates
We hope that you might be able to use these documents to connect to your local Victorian election candidates from all parties.  You can choose an image below to download and send to local candidates.

To find your;
We believe that the whole community has a role in drawing the cause to the attention of the candidates.  The amount of people bringing the cause to the attention of candidates demonstrates the support in the Victorian electorate, and as such translates into the commitments coming from candidates.

We remind the community that sMAG is a bi-partisan lobby group, interested in Music Education.  We are interested in seeing a commitment from whomever is elected to continue to support and to strengthen Music Education delivery throughout Victoria for the 4 years of the next parliament.

If you wish to receive letter guides to candidates, please send a request to:  We would be pleased to hear any feedback you receive from candidates at the same address.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Another way to assist is to share the posters on social media.  By spreading the word around the community, others that are interested may also write to their candidates of get involved.

Our Facebook page:
Twitter: @sMAG_Vic

Thank you in advance for contributions to the cause.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

BASTOW TWILIGHT SEMINAR – Symposium on Music Education

On October 16th, the DEECD collaborated with the Bastow Institute to launch the commenced improvement implementation plan based on the Victorian government Inquiry into Music Education.

Bastow Institute Manager, Chris Mackenzie, opened and welcomed delegates.

Cathy Beesey, Director of the Primary Learning and Development Reform Branch provided an introduction.

Cathy acknowledged the exceptional work achieved within the process of the Victorian Inquiry and set the context for the way forward.
DEECD Vision: To increase and improve music education delivery in ALL areas.
She outlined a clear DEECD commitment to improvement in Music Education delivery at all levels;
·      in the VEYLDF Unit – Early years Birth to 8 years of age.
·      through AusVELS  in the F – 10 space.
·      and in later years courses, VCE, VET and VCAL.

The DEECD will work in 3 key areas to roll out implementations based on the inquiry recommendations:
A.     Collaborative Music Spaces
-       Identifying lead music schools
-       Developing a Guide to Music Education through the VCAA – underway
-       Developing a Promotion Plan
-       Developing PLPs

B.     A Review of the Instrumental Music Programs
-       Commencing in T1 of 2015, a deeper review of the Instrumental Music programs in the State.

C.     Development of Tertiary Qualifications
-       Working with tertiary institutions to develop undergraduate teacher training course – commenced.

To date, further work has commenced;
-       An expert reference group has been established from a cross section of the music education field.
-       The symposium is the first in a series of Twilight seminars at the Bastow, and
-       A project working group will be established.

A consultation mailbox has been established for members of the music education community to engage in conversation with the process;

Key Note Speaker: Prof. Gary McPherson.
A reflection: Review of the Australian Curriculum and the conversations and newspaper publications that have followed.

Federal Government Australian Curriculum review report: the pdf can be found here, and The Arts findings are published on page 212.  

Newspapers in every State have published articles on the Australian Curriculum review.  The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper article was of particular note:

Challenges and discussions were put forward in an engaging way, with a reflection on the history of government review processes.  A case against constant change was heard.  A case for music educators to lead the political debate was put forward.  There was a look at international cases as comparison, insights into how curriculum is put together, and ideas for improving our current quality of delivery.

Principal class: Leading Music Education in i) a Primary school ii) a Secondary school.

i)              Principal, Cheryl Macnee of Eltham East Primary school with Anne Williams Music Coordinator:
ii)             Associate Principal, Vicki Miles of Doveton College P – 9

Both principals proudly showcased their Music programs, highlighting the clear benefits to the students, the school and the wider community.  Each were able to demonstrate an in depth understanding of their music education programs built on a positive relationship with their educators.  Both articulated the benefits to the students across literacy, welfare, student engagement, community outreach and professional performances/recordings.  Both principals outlined the support they provided to contribute to the success of these outstanding programs, sharing the benefits with both video footage and CD recordings.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review of the Australian Curriculum - Initial Response

The School Music Action Group (sMAG) welcomes the Final Report of the Review of the Australian Curriculum and offers this initial response:

  sMAG applauds the Final Report of the Review of the Australian Curriculum, and welcomes the recommendations for change and curriculum simplification particularly around The Arts.

  sMAG has long recognized that the expectation for generalist primary teachers to deliver 5 Art forms in any depth was too ambitious.  Five Arts subjects amalgamated into one stream both devalues each of the separate strains, and overcrowds the primary school curriculum. The call for a simplification of the curriculum with 2 mandatory Arts - Music and Visual Arts - will permit a greater depth of learning in the primary school.  

  sMAG believes Music needs to be a standalone compulsory subject in both the Australian and Victorian curricula. Music curriculum delivered as a core Performing Arts subject in primary schools can allow for extra curricula activities in Drama and Dance to be supported.

• sMAG welcomes the call for a robust Australian Curriculum in Music, that encourages aural and notional literacy, as well as the exploration of historical works from all World cultures as these additions will balance the current focus on music making and ATSI music, as well as address the concerns around repetition in the cross curriculum priorities.

  sMAG welcomes the call for re-structuring of The Arts curriculum by specialists, strengthened with clear national standardized assessment benchmarks, and with a greater balance between making and responding.

  sMAG welcomes and supports a recognition that teachers of The Arts need to have specialised under graduate training to advanced levels. We also welcome and support the recommendation to fund ongoing PD for music specialists, particularly around ATSI musical inheritances.

  sMAG welcomes the recommendation that The Arts curriculum should be available to all students throughout all the years of schooling. However, to commence formal Music curriculum in Year 3 is not adequate.  F- 2 Music curriculum needs to be delivered as a part of the F- Year 8 core sequential program, delivered by expertly trained Music specialists, because the research clearly informs us that the benefits across literacy, numeracy, socialization, spacial awareness and neurological growth is optimized in the early years of human development. 

  sMAG agrees to some extent that 'The content of each of The Arts forms needs to be restructured and re-sequenced along the lines suggested by the subject matter specialists. The documents need be expressed in clearer language .'  The current hyperlinks in the document for music provide a positive foundation to this end, which can be celebrated.  Various State and Territory Curriculum Authorities have produced good work in this area.  Taking the best of each and placing it in an Australian curriculum may be one way forward.

Considering we now have two government reports released within 12 months of each other, both calling for improvement in both Music curriculum (National) and Music delivery (Victorian), sMAG calls upon all governments to respond comprehensively with a view to implementing, strengthening and funding all the recommendations.

Final Report Recommendations in The Arts are quoted below:
          The arts curriculum should be available to all students throughout all the years of schooling. The learning area should be formally introduced at Year 3 but provide a rich source of resource material for Foundation to Year 2, the Foundation years.
          The core content of all five strands should be reduced and a considerable portion of the current core be included in school-based curriculum and activities, thus augmenting the rich arts programs which most schools are already conducting.
          Two of the arts strands should be mandatory and we recommend music and visual arts. The other three strands would be elective subjects and schools would choose which to offer according to their resources and wishes of the parents and nature of the school context. Media arts should become a separate standalone subject and substantially reduced in content.
          Elements of the current arts curriculum should also be integrated into other learning areas such as English, health and physical education, history and technologies.
          The content of each of the arts forms needs to be restructured and re-sequenced along the lines suggested by the subject matter specialists. The documents need be expressed in clearer language .The balance between ‘making’ and ‘responding’ in each of the strands needs to be revisited involving consultation with arts teachers.
          The considerable resourcing costs associated with delivering the arts curriculum need greater consideration, and professional development for teachers is needed as the years progress. It needs to be acknowledged that arts specialists will be needed at the advanced levels. 
 An analysis needs to be undertaken to identify the extent to which the cross-curriculum priorities have produced repetition of content in these strands, and the extent to which they have skewed the content of all the strands, particularly away from Western and other cultures. The cross-curriculum priorities should be integrated, but only where appropriate, and their presence more clearly indicated. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Christopher Pyne announces National Curriculum Report

Christopher Pyne has just gone live to air from Adelaide (October 12, at 10.30 am) to announce the Australian Government National Curriculum review report: the pdf can be found here, and The Arts findings are published on page 212.  

The supplementary material:

The media release from Mr. Pyne's office:

Initial Australian Government Response to the National Curriculum Review:

The Australian published a piece on the National Curriculum Review (October 12): A summation of key points are listed, including: ' * Music and visual arts should be mandatory. '

sMAG Ambassador, Professor Brian Caldwell, has been quoted extensively in today's paper (October 13) - The Age:

ABC Lateline carried a story (October 13) on the National Curriculum with a focus on Literacy and Numeracy: and here is Mr. Pyne's interview:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Inaugural Meeting

The DEECD expert reference group will have their inaugural meeting today, starting work on a 3 - 5 year music education improvement implementation plan based on the inquiry recommendations.  Experts from across the field have been invited to participate; from early years learning to all sectors of tertiary education, from classical music genres, through jazz and to modern expressions - as well as principals and music industry representatives. Government is represented by a member of staff from the Premier and Cabinet offices.  We hope with a wide array of experts, the best outcomes can be achieved, and have benefits through to the next generation of learners.