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Means of creating harmony

Tony Knight and Margaret Talboys outline SCAA's new projects and materials for music and art assessment and development.

While the revised Orders for music and art have been well received and are being used to consolidate and raise standards, many challenges remain. To address these issues the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority is developing materials and projects, including a major new initiative to help music teachers.

Art and music assessment One of the main challenges is with regard to assessment. How should the end of key stage descriptions be used? What should be assessed and when? What should be recorded?

Currently there is no statutory requirement to use the end of key stage descriptions for assessment of art and music in any key stage. However, this will change next September for teachers in key stage 3, when teacher assessment of these subjects will be a statutory requirement.

Teachers in key stages 1 and 2 will continue to use the end of key stage descriptions to help them understand more fully the standards expected when they are planning and teaching. Teachers in key stage 3, in addition to this use of the end of key stage descriptions, will also need to judge the extent to which the attainment of each pupil in Year 9 relates to these standards.

To help teachers with assessment, SCAA has produced two sets of materials for art and music. These are currently being made available to schools.

Key stage 3 exemplification of standards The exemplification materials aim to develop understanding of the expectations given in the end of key stage descriptions for key stage 3. They highlight key features of expectation and progression in the Orders by describing the types of responses which indicate different standards of attainment.

The intention is that the materials could be used not only to help statutory assessment, but also to promote consistency within a department or across schools and to gain a sense of pitch and progression when planning teaching and assessing.

The publication stresses that while it can be helpful to keep some form of record in order to be able to discuss a pupil's work with parents and other teachers, there is no statutory requirement to keep detailed records or evidence on every pupil.

Key stage 3 optional test and task materials Optional test and task materials have been produced for all the non-core subjects. They have been written by subject-specialist consultants in association with teachers, and have been trialled in schools across the country. They have been produced to promote consistency in teacher assessment and provide specific examples of the types of outcomes described in the exemplification of materials.

The materials consist of a teacher handbook explaining the format and uses of the materials and a series of optional units to be selected by teachers to fit into their current work schemes.

The intention is for teachers to select only those units appropriate for to their school. While each of the units can be used as an "off the shelf" resource, they also provide an illustration of some of the ways in which pupil attainment could be assessed in the classroom.

Therefore the units could be modified or used as a stimulus for work developed by the teacher as appropriate to the interests and abilities of the pupils, including those with special educational needs.

Knowledge and understanding of art One of teachers' most challenging tasks is selecting resources to support their teaching about the work of artists, crafts people and designers. The programme of study requires that pupils are introduced to work in a variety of genres and styles: from the locality; reflecting the past and the present; and representative of both the western tradition and non-western cultures. Additionally, at key stage 3, examples must be chosen from a specified range of periods covering traditions of different times and places.

Early findings from SCAA's programme of curriculum monitoring indicate that teachers often have difficulty in locating materials and resources to support their teaching of such a broad curriculum. Appropriate materials to illustrate non-western art, the work of women artists and three-dimensional work are hard to find, while many teachers also have difficulty locating resources to support their teaching of textiles, ceramics, printmaking and architecture.

In conjunction with local education authorities, SCAA is confirming these findings and, with the help of publishers, subject specialists and teachers, is looking to develop criteria for use in reviewing art resources. The project will consider a range of materials, from learning resource packs, photography, film and video to information software and CD-Rom. In addition, the final report (due for publication next spring), will inform the development of new support resources.

Subject knowledge: music A particular challenge for music is integrating the practical activities of performing and composing with listening and appraising - the very first requirement in every programme of study. To help teachers with this requirement, SCAA is working with Classic FM to produce a series of programmes linked to classroom work through written materials.

A new series of Masterclass will be broadcast from this Sunday (September 15) from 3pm to 4pm. Thirty-nine programmes will be broadcast weekly over the next year. They will form an extensive resource for teachers to record and use in the classroom. The programmes will focus on particular musical traditions, identifying characteristics and tracing musical features which change or stay the same across time and place.

The programmes will be supported by written materials which have been developed by SCAA in association with the Northern Ireland Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment. These will be available for key stages 3 and 4 in the first instance, and later for the upper part of key stage 2. The support materials are designed to complement both the exemplification of standards and music optional tests. Several programmes have a direct connection with particular optional tests mentioned above and could be used as preparation material before pupils take the tests.

In addition, the traditions chosen for this series of programmes and support materials include those defined within the syllabuses of a several GCSE examination groups.

Materials will be available on the Internet shortly on Printed materials are available from Helen Gibbs at SCAA Tel: 0171 243 9280 Tony Knight is professional officer for music and Margaret Talboys is professional officer for art at the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority

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