1. Allowing an education minister to address a conference with NO opportunity to ask questions or give feedback is a terrible start to any event. It was compounded by the fact it happened during the same week the Education White paper was released.Nick Gibb MP waxed lyrical about the joys of classical music and his own happy school days when he sang choral music. He didn’t give a single mention to the white paper. He took credit on the new national curriculum for music without even referencing the fact that if his government gets its way no school in the land will ever need to look at it again.
2. Excessive number of white men in suits on panels. Having 16 speakers, one after another with no tea breaks or opportunities to discuss was too much. It was only made bearable by being able to tweet about it. Have storified it here.
There was a huge amount of expertise in the room. Was very frustrating that there was only one break in a very long day where we had the opportunity to talk to each other.
3. Disappointing that there is so much confusion between music curriculum and extra curriculum provision. Surely at an education conference the stuff that happens in the lessons that all kids have is the priority???
4. We don’t value our music education academics enough. Ally Daubney, Martin Fautley, John Finney and Gary Spruce are all doing fantastic work. When ITT is taken away from universities we will lose a valuable resource.
5. No discussion of the Education White paper. I think this was a real disappointment. We stand on a precipice with the future of publicly funded comprehensive schools under serious threat. Forced academisation with the costs coming out of current education budget will leave schools with even less money for music. It will threaten the feasibility of hubs and goodness know what will happen to kids with special needs. If those issues aren’t pertinent to a music education conference then I don’t know what is.
On balance I am glad that I went. The rushed conversations with people passionate about music education always make it worthwhile. I feel uncomfortable being so harsh about today. I know that there are good people behind it who are trying hard to improve school music.
There was an awful lot more that I want to unpick from today but I think that once I have dumped all my frustrations here and slept on it I will reflect better on the positives tomorrow!
PS – I couldn’t help myself but I couldn’t let the minister leave the stage without taking a single question so I did a tiny heckle.