It’s a priority!

The EIS released its Charter for Instrumental Music on the 28th December 2008.

“The EIS believes that every child should have the right to learn to play a music instrument and to develop their ability to sing. Developing an understanding of music is beneficial to pupils in many ways, and can have a profound effect on the personal and social development of children. Through instrumental music instruction, pupils can learn how to work both as an individual and as part of a larger group. This can have a positive effect on their social skills and on their self-confidence and overall personal development. Learning to make music allows pupils to take pride in their accomplishments and provides them with skills that will be applicable to many other areas of their everyday lives both now and in the future.”

In a very worthy document the EIS stress the importance of Instrumental instruction.  I have previously explored the importance of what can sometimes be termed as “peripheral” educational activities in relation to core activities. It was John Connell who came up with the term “inverting the core” , i.e. placing activities such as music, drama, sport, outdoor education, dance, at the centre of a young person’s school experience – and I would subscribe to that perspective.

Yet with the challenge facing public services of a 15% budget cut over the next three years I really fear for the place of any activities which are not perceived to be central to the traditional “educational” experience.  Tha’s why I was pleased to see the EIS making such a strong stance on instrumental music.  Of course I would go further and promote the place of every “life enriching” activity in a similar way.

There is of course a big “BUT” here – how do you take 15% out of a budget and at the same time argue that everything is sacrosanct?

I think we all have a responsibility to engage with the reality of the financial situation facing us and not just inhabit the moral higher ground and promote everything as a priority – regardless of cost.  It’s only through such collective problem solving that we can get through this is a way which does not set us back 30 years.

6 thoughts on “It’s a priority!

  1. Alan

    I reckon the first stage is for all parties to recognise the scale of the challenge we are facing. Without that there can be no proper consideration of how we deliver important services in a new way.

    Does that recognition exist or does the charter set out to ensure that the status quo remains?



  2. Don

    You’re a prolific blogger and a great ideas man. I very much enjoy your TES articles. 60 questions to be answered in the next 12 months. That’s 5 a month and more than one a week! The education community will watch with interest.

    If savings of 15% have to be made, yes, everyone would agree certain provision may be hard to fully continue with. However, through creative thinking and genuine action and more effective use of technology perhaps through smarter working we can actually develop certain services/provisions even with a 15% cut.

    Video conferencing solutions (which most schools hardly use) may be a small part of the answer and of course can promote very effective links with national and global partners.

    I’ve recently spent some time with Stephen Heppell looking at this and given a short Q&A session to an education conference in Florida over video-link. Please see attached youtube link.

    Best wishes for 2010.


  3. Don

    I recently “attended” a 1-hour webinar. I found the format very exciting and extremely useful. Would this be a cost-saving way of providing tuition / revision? Maybe even more useful for low-volume subjects where students can create a “class” from anywhere in Scotland/UK/the World?

    I particularly liked the funcionality of being able to post a question live and the presenter would either choose to take it there and then or come back to it.

    Normally such a course would mean some travelling and probably 1/2 day to a full day out of the office – instead this is a low carbon choice (no travel) and low cost (1 hour instead of 1/2 day) alternative.

    I have used video conferencing in the past and I don’t think it is worth the investment. Normally the rooms lie empty. I think technology has moved on, and webinars are more in keeping with the way young people work now. It might be possible to have webcams linked up to the webinars too.

  4. I wonder if ‘interested bystander’s video conferencing experience was recent. If not, chances are, like many in others in education, the experience may indeed have been less than stimulating. I agree that the webinar technology as described can be an excellent format for learning.

    However it is worth noting that some youngsters in our schools are now receiving weekly lessons over high quality internet based video conferencing. Cost effective video conferencing can now be over the internet and ‘free’. Additionally, pupils can now have fantastic high quality live links with students across the world. Currently we’re working with schools in Finland and the Cayman Islands.

    I’ll be engaged in a few live video conference links with delegates at the BETT Education Conference in London next week, all from the comfort of our Lochside Education Centre in Dumfries. How’s that for saving time, money and carbon footprint reduction?

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