Lament for missing music skills

NINE OUT of 10 trainee primary teachers feel confident about their lessons, but almost half say they have trouble with music.

In a survey of 350 primary trainees by Professor Susan Hallam, of London University's Institute of Education, a third said they had spent no time being trained to teach music and almost four out of five said the training they had received was not sufficient. One in five said they would like to have lessons in singing and one in 10 wanted to learn a musical instrument.

Professor Hallam said: "We've known since the early 1990s that many primary teachers feel ill-equipped and insecure at the prospect of having to teach music. Although the situation has improved slightly, many teachers still have the same reservations."

One trainee said: "I have limited musical ability and don't really feel prepared for teaching the subject. It is what I feel least qualified to teach."

Another said: "I think it is unacceptable that we are going into our first year teaching without any training in music. It's the same with history and drama."

The researchers said it would be unrealistic to expect more music tuition during initial teacher training but said there could be more opportunities for in-house training and initiatives for music specialists to mentor class teachers.

Professor Hallam said: "Music is vital to a child's education. It helps concentration, aids relaxation and can influence moods and emotions.

Singing helps young children with language development and, where coupled with movement, enhances physical coordination.

"Children have a right to a high quality music education; action needs to be taken speedily to ensure this happens."

In 2001, the Government pledged all primary children should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. This was later extended to include vocal tuition.

The last Ofsted report on primary music in 2004-05 stated that significant numbers of primaries had reviewed their music curriculum and larger numbers of pupils were learning instruments.

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