Few discordant notes on change

Diane Spencer

MUSIC The music proposals were as well received as those for art, according to the the consultation report. Three-quarters of the 3,890 respondents agreed that the content of the programme of study was "about right", progression was clear across the three key stages, and there was an appropriate balance of knowledge, skills and understanding.

Teachers, on the whole, thought the proposals were more accessible, succinct and provided greater support for planning and teaching. They welcomed the increased emphasis on the needs of pupils with special educational needs.

But the consultation revealed concerns about non-specialist teachers' ability to teach the requirements without guidance, particularly at the top end of KS2.

Teachers of 11 to 14-year-olds were also worried about the extent to which pupils would have covered the requirements by the time they left junior school.

They also supported the inclusion of information technology, but some asked for greater clarity about what was essential at each stage. In response, the reference to IT has been reduced to its use for recording in KS1 and for exploring and recording in KS2.

The School Curriculum and Assessment Authority has also heeded respondents and emphasised that music should be taken from the past as well as the present, and from a variety of cultures.

As with art, the style of end of key stage requirements has been changed to match other subjects, and exceptional performance can be noted for 14-year-olds. Music and art are not required subjects at KS4.

Key changes from thedraft proposals The programmes of study have been amended by: * reinforcement of the need to bring together requirements from both performing and composing, and listening and appraising; * clarification of the range of repertoire; * removal of the additional headings of general and key stage specific programmes of study; * clarification and reduction of requirements at KS2, mainly concerning the use of IT; * end of key stage statements have been changed to end of key stage descriptions which have had expectations clarified by including "qualitative words".

For example, attainment target 1, Performing and Listening at KSl, says: "Pupils sing a variety of songs and play simple pieces and accompaniments with confidence and awareness of pulse. They explore, select and order sounds, making compositions that have a simple structure and make expressive use of some of the musical elements including dynamics and timbre."

Attainment target 2, Listening and Appraising, says: "Pupils respond to short pieces of music, recognising repetition and changes within the musical elements. They listen attentively, and describe and compare sounds and pieces of music using simple terms."

Key changes from thecurrent Order: * structure and layout revised; * clarification of detail and progress; * repositioning of the musical elements: pitch, tempo, rhythm; * removal of requirements in KS1 regarding phrasing, presentation of performances and recognition of characteristics in music from different times and places; * removal of requirements at KS2 regarding musical instructions, vocal techniques, polyphony and the contribution of influential composers to the development of musical traditions; * removal of the requirement at KS3 concerning unprepared performances and vocal techniques.

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Diane Spencer

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