Wednesday, March 4, 2015

sMAG March ENews

As we move into a new academic year, we acknowledge how busy the whole music education community is as programs settle in for a new year.  The start of 2015 has been very busy for the sMAG committee members.  As we move into this new year, we welcome some valuable new members to the committee:

Fiona Phillips, lecturer at Deakin University, will take up the leadership of the Teacher Training Working Party following Associate Robin Steven’s retirement from sMAG. Fiona wants to advocate for music in a boarder sense and believes music is best taught by a specialist.  Currently, Fiona is completing her PhD with a study on how generalist teachers can use music in the classroom.

Martina Golding has been teaching at South Geelong PS for 16 years.  With a background in Kodaly and Orff, Martina has spent time teaching music in Ballarat.  While on leave, Martina would like to spend 12 months trying to contribute positively to Music Education reform.   Martina is particularly cautious of entertainment programs in schools, and would like to see specialist music programs happen with employed salaried music teachers.

Sue Buchanan – Teaching classroom music for a long time in independent and state schools.  Sue is also half way through a PhD.  She has a keen interest in implementing a music program in high needs schools.  Improving Primary music specialists in the field is a catalyst for wanting to join sMAG and contribute positively.

We have received an expression of interest from Sue at Wyndam College, and look forward to receiving her at the next meeting.

New members bring fresh voices to the processes.  Much time was spent discussing the central focus of sMAG in looking to see a specialist music teacher with protected weekly time on the timetable for every school.  Current challenges involve external musical providers coming in and being used as a ‘music program’.  Sadly this is used across the primary school sector in Victoria.  There is little quality control with this model, and all would like to see schools employ a salaried music specialist, and external providers welcomed to enhance and extend quality school based programs.

Carl Stevens has expressed that his time to retire from his voluntary sMAG work had come.  We all extend generous thanks towards Carl for his tireless work, as he had been working on the music education issues since lobbying for the National Review of School Music Education 2005: .  Carl 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.  For a time, Carl was Chair of sMAG, instigating the new structure of 2 Co- Chairs and 3 Working Parities.  His strategic mind will be missed as we face new challenges into the future.

Thank you so much!

sMAG in 2014
The parameters of sMAG’s work have always been and always will be clear.  During 2014, sMAG lobbied the Victorian parliamentarians and election candidates on behalf of the whole music community without prejudice. Individual music groups/associations/businesses lobbied the same Victorian parliamentarians and election candidates on their own behalf.  The Labor party made their own independent decisions, and are moving forward in their planning. 
With regard to communications, while we are aware of work in the planning stages, it is up to DET and the individuals/organisations involved to make their launch announcements.  We can assure you that much is on the way, and we look forward to major announcements in the coming months.

sMAG in 2015

sMAG intends to continue the work it has done over the past couple of years in support of music in schools.  While the election is over and decisions made at a political level there is the important work of implementation that is now underway.

Of immediate significance are:

·       The continued implementation of the Inquiry recommendations
·       The instrumental music review
·       The roll out of teacher education programs announced both the Commonwealth and State governments in the latter part of 2014.

Our intention is that sMAG keep working with our elected representatives, the department and music education stakeholders in an effort to ensure that music education provision and quality in our schools is advanced. 

Where appropriate we will seek to comment on other national issues that have the capacity to impact music education.  We will do this either under our own banner or in partnership or in support of national groups.

Victorian Inquiry Implementation Update

The VCAA is developing the Guide and will consult on a regular basis with stakeholders.  Inviting participation, via the Notice to Schools is one consultation strategy that will be used. Members of the education community are invited to email Helen Champion directly, as she will still accept expressions of interest to participate in development of the guide: 

The next Music symposium at The Bastow Institute will be held on Tuesday March 10th, at 4.30 pm. 
‘Music Education in the Primary Setting: New Pedagogies for Deep Learning’
Experiential learning focusing on the 6 C’s is enhanced with the NPDL theory of learning.  See how this practical approach to learning is expressed in a musical setting to achieve high student outcomes.  School leaders, and principals are encouraged to attend to hear how NPDL can be applied in Music curriculum delivery.
Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership
603-615 Queensberry St, North Melbourne:
Cost: Free
·       Attending the seminar at Bastow: register at:
·       To participate via videoconference: please contact
Michael Randall, Project Support Officer, on 9651 0248 or by email:

The DET Music Education Ning is now live at You join the Ning directly at (Please note, this website looks better when viewed using the Google Chromebrowser)
The DET project managers for the music education reform in Victoria encourage the music community to get involved in the NING as an online portal and resource. Project leader Cathy Beesey says it is a place for "schools (to) have access to the best possible range of activities and available resources, and (so) your organisations are supported with the opportunity of ongoing consultation with the music education community. Should you know of professional learning opportunities offered by your organisation or colleagues, please post a notice on the Forum page so we can include in the calendar on the events page.
Please click:
Should you have questions or issues about posting on the forum, please contact Andrew McMillan on 9637 2287, or by email:"
There are two current online discussion running hot; 'musicality' and 'Lighthouse Schools'. Get involved and be a part of the reform discussions.

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.

IMT staff members are encouraged to speak to Marino D’Ortenzio for advice on any employment status concerns.

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

The Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group Report was released on 13 February 2015:  The report “Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers Report”  can be read online at this address.
The Report focuses on changes to initial teacher education that are practical and achievable. The proposed reforms centre on five themes:
•    Stronger quality assurance of teacher education courses
•    Rigorous selection for entry to teacher education courses
•    Improved and structured practical experience for teacher education students
•    Robust assessment of graduates to ensure classroom readiness
•    National research and workforce planning capabilities
The Advisory Group’s 38 recommendations seek to achieve improvements in both the content and delivery of initial teacher education courses in Australia.  Many throughout the music sector made submissions, including sMAG, which can be viewed online:
The report has some implications for music education, especially 

·       Recommendation 18
Higher education providers equip all primary pre-service teachers with at least one subject specialisation, prioritising science, mathematics or a language. Providers publish specialisations available and numbers of graduates from these programs.

sMAG will review the report and put forward a response from the Teacher Training Working Party.  Initial thoughts are around putting forward an argument that specialisations need to include those historically found in Victorian primary schools: Health/PE, Visual Art and MUSIC.

All the best for the new academic year!

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