Thursday, June 23, 2016

Open letter to Federal Labor Cadidates

Labor Policy: Music Education

When we, the School Music Action Group (sMAG) Victoria, wrote to you around May 28th, we outlined our recommendations for improving school music education.   
Since then we have read your Education policy: and we welcome the transformational, overarching strategic plan the policy sets out to deliver on public school education throughout the nation.

We welcome your policies around:
  • ·       Full funding of the Gonski review recommendations
  • ·       Better trained teachers and better quality teaching
  • ·       Investment in leadership and Principal training and support
  • ·       Investment in disability education with a vision towards equity
  • ·       Targeted resources, and
  • ·       Accountability and transparency measures

We also read a belief and commitment from Federal Labor:

“Labor believes the benefits of musical education should be available to all Australian students. We will support more schools introducing children to the arts through the joy of music.

A Shorten Labor Government will provide $2 million a year to expand successful school music programs such as Music: Count Us In, Musica Viva in Schools and the Song Room. We will also invest $350,000 a year to continue the SongMakers program beyond 2017.”

We welcome the Shorten Labor Party aspiration!  Great news that the ‘joy of music’ will be afforded to ‘all Australian students’. 

To achieve this, we would respectfully implore that a Labor commitment is met with the same measure as the proposed investment in public service to STEM subjects.  Investment in strategic oversight, a mandatory P - 8 sequential, continuous and developmental program, delivered by expertly trained music teachers working as Public service, school employed teachers is the only way to deliver on this vision. Schools must be mandated to provide a protected 50 - 60 minute session for the vision to become reality.

While we appreciate an injection into the Private Music Education business providers, it is only through full time teacher employment in a school, that real transformational change can occur.  In this way, the teacher as central becomes the foundation upon which Incursion providers may extend student engagement.  Tertiary level training must be comprehensive and fully funded.

While we appreciate the ability for Private Music Education business providers to reach remote locations of Australia, for those services to be successful, broadband internet must be bolstered. We reiterate, that the best way to gain meaningful, generational change in Music Education delivery is to provide vibrant, engaging, and expertly trained specialist teachers, employed as public servants.  

We must put a stop to the inequity in Australia. Music has many benefits for all learners and communities. Training teachers is the most effective and efficient method.  Providing tertiary level music specialisation is imperative, with adequate time allocations.  Currently, tertiary institutions only allow minimal time allocations to undergrad teachers in The Arts.  Tertiary music education needs an investment in time allocation, delivered as a stand-alone subject.

Teacher registration bodies must also begin to implement the recommendations of the NRSME (2005) and the Victorian Inquiry (2013).  We must push back on a tertiary system that lumps the arts together.  Teachers must develop deep pedagogical and content knowledge in music, as it is such a specialist area.  We have examples of undergraduate students, who due to the inequitable access to effective sequential and developmental music learning, have little to no knowledge of the fundamental elements of music. 
Music education builds learning power (Claxton, 2007) and cultivates more than the ability to regurgitate facts and figures, it develops thinking, resilience, persistence, resourcefulness, reflectiveness and reciprocity (Claxton 2013). We need music education to be adequately funded as a stand alone subject from P – 8, and at tertiary level, for these outcomes as well as for the joy of making music.
Our many followers, readers, colleagues, patrons, ambassadors and affiliates would be pleased to hear any clarification around your Music Education policy.   We attach our previous letter, and repeat here:

sMAG would offer its support to the a future Shorten government should it commit to implementing the various report recommendations if elected to office later this year.
Reform of music education in all Australian schools will ensure the best possible educational outcomes for Victorian state school students and we ask you to assist by:
  • ·       Advocating for the adoption of the various review recommendations in your party room
  • ·       Ensuring through parliamentary process that the Shorten government implements the NRSME, and TEMAG recommendations while it remains in office
  • ·       Supporting the inclusion of specific references to music education provision and quality in future Labor education policy
  • ·       Becoming an advocate for music education reform within parliament so that ‘top tier’ educational outcomes for Australian students are achieved
  • ·       Supporting the establishment of a Ministerial Advisory Committee to assist Government and the Department in the implementation of the long term recommendations
  • ·       Researching music education reform opportunities amongst schools in your electorate so that your constituents may benefit from these initiatives and reforms
  • ·       Supporting the inclusion of music education reform in the Shorten 2016 election platform and in future education policies

sMAG recommends that whether in government or the Senate, The Labor Party commits to;
  • ·       Universal provision of music education in Australian schools from P-8 by the start 2022 academic year - five years to allow for pre service training of music education specialists.  Public service teachers provide long term investment in schools, working in communities over decades.
  • ·       Ensuring that the Wiltshire/Donnelly recommendation that Music be delivered as a stand-alone subject is implemented into the Australian Curriculum, and that the Australian Curriculum provides a sequential, continuous and developmental pathway for all students from P – 8, delivered by an expertly trained, specialist teacher.
  • ·       Creating and promoting a national quality/best practice framework for music in schools.
  • ·       Appointing a Commonwealth Education minister who then seeks the agreement of the COAG Education Council in requiring schools and systems to report on their music education activity annually from 2017. 
  • ·       Adopting a variation on TEMAG recommendation (Rec 18) that teacher-training institutions provide students with the opportunity to specialise in a STEM subject and an arts subject – namely Music.  Effectively STEMM.  Meaning that in the medium term the teacher training institutions and teacher registration bodies are training and accrediting sufficient graduate teachers with the requisite skills in music to achieve the goal of universal provision; P – 8 Classroom music, instrumental music experts and ensemble teachers.

sMAG would be happy to provide you with any additional information or documentation you may require.  World’s best practice shows us that music should be a core component of every curriculum and should be available to every student.  We ask for your support to make this vital educational reform a reality.


Robin Pascoe, et al., National Review of School Music Education: Augmenting the Diminished. Canberra: Department of Education, Science and Training, 2005.

See Ian Harvey, Making the Progression: Report of the National Music Workshop, 27-28 August, 2006.  Melbourne: Australian Music Association, 2006.

Anne Lierse, et al., Victorian Music Workshop Report Southbank, 2007.

Victorian Inquiry Into The Extent, Benefits and Potential of Music Education 2013.  

Australian Government, Review of the Australian Curriculum Final Report.  Wiltshire/Donnelly 2014

Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG) provided a report “Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers Report”

Expanding Young People’s Capacity To Learn, Guy Claxton 2007.

Progression In Student Creativity In Sschool: First Steps Towards New Forms Of Formative Assessments  Guy Claxton et all 2013

No comments:

Post a Comment