Sunday, September 27, 2015

sMAG September ENews

Spring at last – finally!  While on break, members of sMAG continue to work through and make submissions to reviews.  We hope that the music education community benefits from the continued application.

The Education State - Launch.
The Andrew’s government’s vision and financial commitments to The Education State within the launch paper asserts transformational change is ahead. . 
The clear aspiration towards equity across the State is to be highly commended.  Of particular importance to the music education community is the clear commitment to The Arts and particularly Music, which is stated with such intention.  This is greatly welcomed.  While we do not yet know the full implications, a reading of the document provides foundation for great hope that support for music and The Arts will be extended.

Highlights for music taken from The Education State Launch document:
  • The aspiration “Over the next 10 years, more Victorian students will reach the highest levels of achievement in the arts.”
  • The news of a new curriculum, particularly in Music;
  • The “$21.6 million to make sure our teachers and schools are supported to implement the new curriculum.” Including Music as a named targeted subject.
  • The professional learning program that “will develop best practice specialist curriculum programs in areas including STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), digital coding, early years literacy, critical thinking, music and financial literacy.”
  • That the professional learning program in each named targeted subject, including Music, will be led by an expert teacher
  • The implementation of Gonski funding.
  • Regional leadership and support structures as well as Principal development programs
  • The $18 million Insight Assessment Platform, The “LOOKOUT” initiative and the “NAVIGATOR” initiative
  • The 8 new Technical secondary colleges – where we would hope a Music department is designed from inception.
  • Community/School partnerships programs – where we believe local Musicians would be keen to get involved.

Clearly the commitment to developing excellence in education comes through the document.  Please take the time to read ‘The Education State – Launch’ paper, and become familiar with the vision and aspirations.

As we move towards 2016, we see ways towards furthering music education provisions against the recommendations from the Victorian Inquiry into the Extent, Benefits and Potential of Music Education.  As such, we continue to engage in all avenues available to make a case for continued improvement, including writing to the Education Minister, Mr. Merlino, with a request for a meeting.


Programs for Students with Disabilities Review
The sMAG Teacher Training Working Party submitted a substantial paper to the PSD Review with a focus on Music Education.   A substantive quote from our paper:
“Music seems to provide an outlet for expression and communication for children and young people with complex special needs with others in an otherwise strange and confusing universe. Indeed, some may possess extraordinary musical gifts and talents despite sometimes severe, profound and multiple limitations in other domains. Other research, expert input, and comprehensive analysis that informs the efficacy of music in special and inclusive education includes Doidge, 2010; Levitin and Bellugi, 1998; Levitin, 2008; Miller, 1989; Ockelford, 2007; Ockelford, 2008; Ockelford, 2012; Sacks, 2007.

The position paper respectfully implores members of the PSD Review to carefully ponder the evidence base to inform potential innovative solutions to the very complex and profound issues as recommendations are conceptualised.  The sMAG (Vic) committee would propose that every child with a special need would benefit from inclusion of a Music curriculum delivered by an expertly trained music specialist, with training in the area of special needs students.”

Our six final recommendations were based on the above premise, and we hope that the PSD committee will undertake to include music education to meet the developmental needs of these students, delivered by teachers substantially trained in both special needs and music. 
Further, our submission recommended that a professional research occur into the outstanding piano teaching work of Daphne Proietto.

We thank Dr. Helen Farrell for her leadership in making this submission, drawing on her specialized expertise in the area of Students with Disabilities and Music Education.  THANK YOU, HELEN!

The review is still open, and you are invited to participate: Online survey  

Principals, teachers, parents, students and all other members of the public are also invited to participate in an online survey about key themes and preferences.  To participate in the survey, see: PSD Review online survey 
The survey closes at 5pm Friday 16 October 2015. For more information or assistance, email: 
The Education State – Early Childhood Consultation Paper.
sMAG is currently working on an extensive response to this process.
The consultation paper outlines proposals as discussion starters to engage the public and professionals in the conversation.  It identifies the need to focus on early childhood as the foundation of lifelong well being and learning.
In the first five years of children's lives, commitment to their health, education and well-being has the most profound effects. “Early childhood is the best time to transform a person’s life. This is the time when a child’s potential – their imagination, curiosity and creative spark – is first nurtured. Effort and investment well spent during our children’s early years repay themselves many times over – in better lives and in fairer, more prosperous societies.”  Jenny Mikakos MP Minister for Families and Children

The government invites responses from professionals, parents, caregivers, academics, experts and the broader Victorian community to develop substantial reforms, to be put into action year by year over the coming decades.
The paper is well worth a read, and a response, as it provides the probable direction for Early Childhood Education in general for the next few years.  Music Educators are well aware of the benefits of using music from birth to age 5, and we outlined many in the sMAG submission.  You can log onto the website,  and engage in the online conversation in the hope of influencing policy.

The Brack's Review into School Funding has released Emerging Issues & Ideas report
The Instrumental Music Program gets a mention on page 19, and the Victorian Inquiry into the Extent, Benefits and Potential of Music Education is listed as a reference. I commend everyone that worked on that paper (amongst other contributors), as these two mentioned items, albeit small, has assisted in that our voice and subject receiving a mention.  Good!  Few curriculum areas received a special mention, so we are on the right track.  Comment can still be made to the Brack's review via email:

AITSL have published an agenda of implementation priorities following the TEMAG report.  A dedicated website to Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and a summary can be found here:
AITSL have also published a white paper and is inviting feedback on 3 key questions:
The survey closed on September 11, 5 pm AEST.
The sMAG Teacher Training Working Party made a concise response with the focus on pre-service training, accreditation and employer satisfaction with a focus in music education specialization.  We believe it is vital that we continue to engage in any consultation process put forward by AITSL as the quality of pre-service training in music directly relates to the student outcomes in the future.

Victorian Curriculum
The VCAA have published online: At this early stage, it would be interesting to hear people’s views and initial thoughts on how to apply in the classroom.

sMAG Leadership
sMAG is currently moving through a transition and self review process.  At our October, meeting we will consider our structural format in order to best meet the needs of the community.  At this point in our journey, Ian Harvey will continue on the committee but release his role as Co-Chair.  Ian’s commitments across the music sector are far reaching, creating huge demands on his time and expertise.

I wish to thank Ian publicly for his generous commitment to sMAG, with consistent and continuous contributions as Co-Chair over the last 18 months to two years.  His political insights, experience and expertise have contributed within the team, towards the strong position of music education in the community at this point in time. Ian’s skills in networking, relationship building and strategic intelligence have had a significant impact on our progress.


Further, I would like to publicly thank all the members of the sMAG committee.  Each professional has been giving tirelessly of their time and expertise, contributing to the many and varied reviews and submissions open to us at this time.  IT is a lot of work, and as such, I genuinely value and appreciate all the time and effort that is put into our collective work. 

sMAG ON FACEBOOK:   Yet another way to network, and share your ideas and new finds in the music education area!

sMAG is a non partisan committee, consisting of volunteers from all sectors of the music community, and we welcome your input.  A survey is being developed to invite people’s input, however anyone is welcome to email us at any point and make a contribution:

Please share our news with your friends, and post your ideas to our Facebook page – we love hearing from the whole community.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Last week, the Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos launched a two-month state-wide consultation to build a shared vision for the future of early childhood health, development and learning in Victoria.

Parents, teachers, carers and early childhood professionals are all encouraged to get involved and contribute their ideas for how
to create a truly outstanding system.  Music education makes a vibrant contribution to early childhood development, yet many children miss out on regular formalised learning in music - so please get on board.
How you can get involved:

  • Head to the Education State website and download the Early Childhood Consultation Paper: file:///Users/T02384537/Downloads/Early_Childhood_Consultation_Paper_(PDF).pdf 
  • Register your interest for one of the consultation sessions happening across the state over the next two
  • months, including Geelong, Frankston, Bendigo, Broadmeadows, Latrobe Valley and Benalla.
  • Take part in the online conversation forums: 
  • Submit a formal paper to