School music is envy of the world;Music for the millennium;Letter

15th May 1998 at 01:00
The TES is performing an important service to education by highlighting the need to protect music in the primary curriculum.

Music educators from abroad look to the UK with a degree of admiration and envy. In France, for example, music is bedevilled by the fact that the subject is only seriously compulsory for 11 to 14-year-olds. It is generally agreed that this leaves things too late.

Here tremendous progress has been made in developing a coherent pattern of music education from five to 14. The new order threatens to destabilise that.

The national curriculum was also at last addressing the vexatious question of continuity and progression across the primary-secondary divide.

We are faced with a return to a hotch-potch picture and secondary schools reacting by returning to their old practice of starting all11-year-olds off from scratch regardless of what they have learnt previously.

Similarly educators from the United States envy the way the national curriculum provided a set of national standards, something they are still fighting for. For all of the foundation subjects one stroke of the pen has effectively made national standards in primary schools a thing of the past.

There are plenty of primary schools which implement national curriculum requirements in full without selling their pupils short in the development of literacy and numeracy. The proposal is effectively an amnesty for primaries who have not got their act together over implementing the full national curriculum requirements, and can only foster cynicism.

The move may well prove counter-productive. Experienced primary teachers know that difficulties in reading are often linked to low self-esteem. A broad curriculum gives opportunities for success in a wide variety of areas which can have a knock-on effect on motivation and in fostering the risk-taking that is necessary for effective learning in reading.

We cannot have 'English across the curriculum' if there is little of the curriculum left.

Roy Terry 24 Roxton Gardens Addington Village, Croydon

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