Thursday, December 18, 2014

sMAG December ENews

November has seen a change in government and a lot of activity for sMAG.  Lobbying all candidates in the Victorian election, attending the DEECD Music Education Expert Reference Group, and responding to issues as they arise has kept the committee members very busy.

Robin Stevens has expressed that his time to retire from his voluntary sMAG work had come.  We all extend generous thanks towards Robin for his tireless work, as he had been working on the music education issues since lobbying for the National Review 2005:  
Robin has been highly involved in leading aspects of sMAG’s work over the years, attending meetings, collating research, speaking at forums and writing submissions to the various government inquiries to name a few components of his valuable work.

We also acknowledge and thank Ethne Green for her contribution over the last 12 months.  Her administrative work enabled mail outs and letter writing to occur with more speed and efficiency.  Thank you, Ethne.

Thank you so much!

Our Belief:
Every child from the big smoke to the back of Burke deserves a specialist expertly trained music teacher on staff, delivering specific MUSIC training with protected time on the timetable dedicated to this pursuit.  To achieve this we need to see key implementation areas occur.  This main goal means that a specialist teacher employed in every primary school is one of the first steps.  The role of this specialist would be to provide a sequential P – 6 curriculum to all the students in a full session per week.  This teacher would then be able to create a community where parents, local musicians and professional support associations to become involved, extending the student’s musical experience.  Over the last few months there has been discussion on the benefits of providing every primary generalist teacher with the skills to deliver a program.  While an honorable goal, the implementation of such a goal would take much longer to achieve, and not provide the high standards in music education that we are aspiring towards.  Generalist teachers get busy and could easily decide to drop any music program, or a principal choose to drop a generalist delivered music program when the next wave of educational reform comes along.  A specialist staff member providing protected music time, with a classroom set up with the necessary equipment, is more likely to stand in place for the long haul.

Victorian election
Election promise kept!  Within a week of being elected, the Andrew’s government have met with the DEECD, and then commenced talks with key partners to start immediate work on 2015 implementation of music delivery improvement.  As the consultation process is in the very early stages, we are not at liberty to share the news beyond the fact that many benefits will be put in place from Term 1 2015.  We also received full support from the Greens, and many independent or minor party candidates promising to hold any government to account for their implantation election promises.
We have written a substantial thank you letter to Dr. Napthine for his and his government’s support of the inquiry implementation during his tenure. 
We have also written to Mr. Merlino with congratulations on his position of Education Minister, and outlining further discussion points on how the inquiry recommendations might be further implemented.

Inquiry Implementation Update
Work already commenced will continue - including a wider review of the instrumental delivery due to start in Term1 2015 - the new meetings build and add to work already commenced. The vital work of implementation is ahead, and a cohesive, vibrant music community will be welcomed to be involved. You can start now as the DEECD have established a NING for ongoing consultation with the music education community. The Ning is now live at; you join the Ning directly from (Please note, this website looks better when viewed using the Google Chromebrowser)
The Ning is open to everyone.  It is very important that many of you sign up and get involved in the discussion especially if you wish to have a voice in how things develop.  There is a specific note from Cathy Beesey: 
"Welcome, this online Ning is open to everyone interested in music education. It will provide an opportunity for sharing quality learning and teaching practices, professional learning opportunities and research on music education for early childhood settings and schools. We have set up a calendar where we encourage you to add key events that may be of interest to others.
In response to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the extent, benefits and potential of music education in Victorian schools an expert reference group has been established to build on the quality practice in Victoria and to strengthen practice through partnerships, the sharing of quality practice and advice on learning and teaching. 
I encourage you to join us in this important area of learning. "

Your opportunity to be involved consultation is empowered with this Ning, and as such we encourage many of you to do so.  In order to reach every child in every diverse situation with a music education, a range of experts and learning approaches will be needed.  All your voices are vital in achieving this.  As the implementation roll out commences, we hope you all become involved in a vibrant and positive way to carry the wave of reform forward.

Further, the DEECD have taken their first round of data in the annual schools census, which is the commencement in meeting the requirements for Recommendation 1 in the inquiry report.  The expert reference group has made recommendations regarding the data, and we hope to continue gathering data in the coming months.

Finally for 2014, sMAG has put forward questions to the DEECD for the 2015 instrumental review, including our concerns regarding advertised IMT employment status listed as ES.  IMT teachers provide continuous assessment in student capacity, develop curriculum and then report to parents each semester in most cases.  We believe this vital work entitles a status of teacher.

We look forward to continuing the work in 2015, and hope to see substantial movement in the coming months.

Other activities and things of interest…..

Karen Kyriakou is contributing to meeting the needs of every child, by providing specialist teaching to special needs children at Rosamond supported by Musica Viva .  Karen’s work includes teaching drum rhythms to deaf children, by guiding them to feel the vibrations of the beat through their surroundings.

sMAG committee member, Mark Dipnall, was interviewed for Education HQ

Please pass these connections to colleagues that use these platforms!  Facebook:   Twitter: @sMAG_Vic 

Merry Christmas everyone, and a happy and prosperous New Year.