Thursday, April 9, 2015

sMAG April ENew

The music community will be very pleased to hear progress made during Term 1 towards improving music education.  sMAG committee members continue to raise our collective voice in public forums, submit to significant reviews and engage in important discourse with government.  sMAG committees have been very busy engaging with the Federal Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG) report Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers Report”, the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) Permission To Teach (PTT) review, as well as our regular activities and representations.

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 sMAG Teacher Training Working Party met over several weeks to make a response to the TEMAG report.  The committee submitted a three page response based on Recommendation 18.

sMAG welcomes the report findings and in substance agrees with the 38 recommendations put forward by TEMAG. A stronger selection process, quality assurance processes and undergraduate training and assessment will put Australian education at the forefront of world-class systems.

As our professional focus is on specialisation, we particularly welcome Recommendation 18. We would encourage
the Federal government to strengthen this recommendation further.

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.

All specialist areas need to be included in this recommendation. Over the decades, primary schools in particular have valued hiring a Visual Arts, Music and PE/Health specialist teachers. Regrettably, only the larger primary schools can afford to hire one or more specialist teachers, with most schools relying on the abilities of their generalist teachers to deliver all programs. Unfortunately, the Australian context has demonstrated that the generalist model of delivering music has failed our students with generalist teachers not having the skills to deliver the music/arts program. Music needs to be delivered in a sequential, developmental, continuous and compulsory program from P – 8 by expertly trained specialist teachers. Elective from Year 9 – 12.”

The sMAG TTWP then went on the summarise implementation suggestions based on the remaining 37 recommendations under the 5 headings listed in the TEMAG report.

The sMAG written report was submitted to Mr. Christopher Pyne, Mr. John Hattie – Chair of AITSL (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership) and the chair of TEMAG Professor Greg Craven.

On March 18, many of the sMAG committee were able to attend a Q and A with members of TEMAG and Mr. John Hattie, hosted by ACEL and Mr. Jeremy Beard.  We are pleased to inform the music education community that Mr. John Hattie agrees that all teachers should have at least 1 specialisation, possibly 2.  He stated that this area of the conversation was needed, and would welcome any debate by the community.  We followed up on email, and putting Prof. Gary McPherson and Prof. Brian Caldwell in touch with Mr. Hattie.  AITSL offices have responded positively, welcoming sMAG’s correspondence as a stakeholder, and assured us that ongoing conversations will occur in the future.

The full report highlights key areas for improvement in the delivery of Teacher Pre Service education across all of Australia and all domains.  The work ahead is significant.  It would seem that the Federal government will provide AITSL with extended regulatory authority in order to achieve key outcomes across all Australian States.

VIT Permission to Teach Review (PTT)
The VIT have announced a review of the Permission To Teach policy, which has been discussed at length in the Victorian Inquiry into Music Education regarding the implications for instrumental music delivery.
Submissions close on April 13.
It is advised that many stakeholders submit, highlighting that there are problems with the current implementation aligned to the VIT definition of Instrumental Music as co- or extra-curricular. Specifically section 2.11 of the discussion paper.  Instrumental teachers, and HOMs are advised to please read the pdf online and make submissions. Please share with colleagues to inform the wider music education community.

The sMAG Instrumental Music Teacher Working Party have spent much time putting together a submission for this review around item 2.11.  Essentially the argument is around the definition of a teacher.   IMTs assess student learning (as/of and for learning), develop specific curriculum according to student needs, assess progress and subsequently report to parents in formal documentation.  The current PTT does not acknowledge these professional practices in categorising IMTs as co curricula providers.  Whether delivering individual/small group instrumental education, or ensemble (another form of classroom) education all IMTs need to be acknowledged for their professional practice as recognised teachers under the definitions.  Failure to do this undermines the status of instrumental music teaching and, therefore, music education in general; and it pulls in the opposite direction to that of the Victorian inquiry into music education and its seventeen positive recommendations.  With proper recognition in the PTT documentation the VIT will allow for both recognition of the high caliber professionals in our music education community, and provide some quality control around who can be appointed to such important positions that develop student capability.

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

Victorian Inquiry Implementation Update
Elizabeth Pearce has publicly announced Richard Gill's National Music Teacher Mentoring Program (Prep - Year 2) for Victoria in the weekly DET school's bulletin.  Expressions of interest are now sought for Music teachers to train as Mentors with Richard Gill OAM in the NMTMP aimed to benefit the Foundation to Year 2 student cohorts.  Information on how to apply can be found via the DET School Update Tuesday 24 March 2015.  The flyers have been uploaded to the Music Education NING:    
Expressions of Interest Due:  Monday 20 April 2015 

For the Victorian Music Community, participating as a mentor in the National Music Teacher Mentoring Program is Action 3 in a long line of actions that professionals can contribute to the improvement plan following the inquiry.  Yet another way many vibrant and experienced music professionals can contribute to the roll out of improvements following the Victorian inquiry.

Action 1: 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: 

Action 2: ONLINE NING - contributing to the professional conversation.  The DET are engaging in this NING, empowering your public voice in policy development and are quoted here "Your engagement with, and input into the discussions in this space will provide guidance and direction to inform the development of policy, frameworks and advice on music education for Victorian children and young people."

Teachers and stakeholders are invited to participate by joining the VCAA Consultation Register for VCE studies in review in 2015.  Participants registered for consultation will receive email notification once the consultation draft of the relevant VCE study design is available online and be invited to respond to the consultation draft via an online questionnaire. Teachers and stakeholders will be given the option of allowing the VCAA to use their registration details to receive email notification of the implementation briefings for the revised studies in 2016.  The review includes Music - please have a look at the online publication.

SYMPOSIUM  ‘Music Education in the Primary Setting: New Pedagogies for Deep Learning’
The second symposium was held at the Bestow Institute of Educational Leadership on March 10.  Experiential learning focusing on the 6 C’s is enhanced with the NPDL theory of learning.  An exploration was covered on how practical learning occurs in musical learning spaces, where students create new pieces in order to explore established genre.  Pathways on how to support the highly able and engage in collaborative learning beyond the classroom was also shared.
It is expected that the expo will be repeated later in the year.

Save the date for Sounds Great 2015 to be held in the outstanding facilities of Arts Centre Melbourne. The opening keynote address will be provided by the one and only Mr. Richard Gill, OAM
 A Happy Country is a Singing Country “

Thursday 16 July9.00am.  A focus on the National mentoring program.  Registrations for the conference are open now! Enquiries can be directed to the Conference Secretariat at the Association of Music Educators.

David William Hearn has made an app! StaffPad revolutionises music notation. Pick up the digital pen, write your music - StaffPad takes care of the rest. For those in classrooms with compatible devices - this will be a tremendous asset.

Academic activity in Term 2 around assessment and reporting to parents will be the focus for many, as well as major performances.  We wish you all the very best in these endeavours.

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