Preparing all for KS4 Music

My first Inspire Event for Teach Through Music focused on the transition to KS4 Music; well, more than that in fact. How do we ensure all pupils taking KS3 are prepared to continue into KS4? Is GCSE the only route after KS3? Typically 8% will carry on – quoted by Keith Evans in his provocative address during the evening of discussions and presentations. He is a staunch advocate for music lessons that are truly music lessons. No one disagreed! He sparked the debate whether there really should be a difference of approach between the different key stages. Plenty of useful discussions took place and Keith answered some pressing questions from the teachers who attended. The key message of music through music resounded.

Karen Brock curated and chaired the presentations by myself and other music teaching colleagues. Emily Boxer gave a passionate account of how her school manages the transition from KS3 to KS4. I gave a quick account of my experiences of listening and composing, followed by Julie Stanning showing how the wonderful work at KS3 can continue into outstanding lessons at KS4. Owen Bourne finished the set of presentations questioning whether GCSE Music was the right direction for students, make a strong plea for student voice in course design.

A real strength of the evening was the discussion with students. They were wonderfully articulate and gave a useful account of their school experience. Most striking is how they see a distinction between their school-based and out of school music making. A shame! Owen called for greater attention to student voice but later discussions reflected on the importance of imparting a certain degree of knowledge before students could make reasoned choices in their music-making. I think the debate will continue on how much content should be driven by student choice.

The new London Curriculum has a Music scheme well worth exploring, and it includes contributions by Karen Brock and Owen Bourne. A inspiring view of London seen from City Hall was the backdrop to the evening; a reminder that there is a great deal of opportunity for young people to make music in our capital.

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