We’ve been talking for a while now about the ways in which we’re evolving to support music education, whilst maintaining our focus on our 130 years of experience in delivering assessments.
Back in June, we welcomed the publication of the UK government’s refreshed National Plan for Music Education in England. We’ve now had the summer to reflect on the plan and to consider how this vision aligns to the ways in which we’ve been developing our work in the areas of Teaching and Learning, Qualifications and Assessments and Music Making.
We felt this was a good time to tell you a bit more about how we see these strands working together to bring the joy of music into as many lives as possible.
Children engage with music from the moment they are born. In partnership with expert organisations we will be looking to support early years learners through refreshing our Music Medals and renewed support for teacher development. One of the first partnerships in this early years space will be a collaboration with the Royal Northern College of Music when we launch a CPD programme for non-specialist primary teachers later this year.
Teaching and Learning - music in and out of the classroom
Schools are a vital setting for providing pupils with music opportunities in and out of the classroom. Through our involvement in the Model Music Curriculum we have established our support for schools, and the successful launch of Classroom 200 is part of this. A free resource including a brilliant mix of music and lesson plans, Classroom 200 is all about bringing music to life in the classroom.
Recognising that teachers need support is crucial and with that in mind we will be launching the ABRSM Teacher Hub, our online professional learning community, in October. Our community will be underpinned by a set of values based on music for all, bringing together teachers of all types with an interest in music, meeting them at the right point for them on their musical journey.
The Teacher Hub will include courses, resources and conversation and we are already exploring ideas for how we might recognise creative and quality practice within schools.
Qualifications and Assessments – musical progression and placing the learner at the centre
Musical progression is rich and varied. It’s vital that we ensure there are routes into music for children and young people regardless of whether they hope to pursue a career in music.
In June we launched a refreshed Piano syllabus for 2023 & 2024 which features pieces by composers from around the globe. Earlier this month we also published Pop Performer! offering budding pianists chart-topping and classic pop songs that have been expertly selected and arranged. With more music than ever before we’re hoping that learners will really be able to expand their musical horizons.
In August we rolled out Performance Grades on demand globally. On-demand booking means Performance Grades fit more easily into busy schedules and allows learners to develop and prepare at a pace that suits them. We followed this launch with a brand-new Brass syllabus including music that’s perfect for whole classes, small groups or individuals and a greater selection of repertoire.
Our soon to launch exam discount scheme in collaboration with Music Mark will be available through Music Services to young people and their families in the UK and it will complement the National Plan for Music Education’s Music Progression Fund.
It is our ambition to reach out in new ways to celebrate music-making and performance in all its forms and not just through graded exams. We will pursue ways to map, motivate and maintain musical progression from early years through to adulthood including alternative options outside our current graded exam pathway. We will be investing in more grassroots charities who use music to counter social-exclusion and disadvantage as well as further stimulating diversity of music through our composer mentor scheme – supporting musicians from the beginning of their journey onwards. As our collaboration with Alexis Ffrench continues to grow we’ll share his inspiration and creativity with learners, reflecting the love we all have for music through our social channels and beyond.
As a charity all of our surpluses are re-invested in music education. Our donations and partnerships encompass a range of grants, scholarships, awards, prizes and bursaries, for organisations and individuals. All promote music education and the advancement of music as an essential part of a vibrant, healthy and inclusive society.
We believe that working with others brings the best value for everyone involved in learning, teaching, performing and creating music. We collaborate with partners to develop skills, resources and leadership in the sector, to open up access and opportunity for more people to progress in their music making, to drive diversity and inclusion, and to be champions for music learning in all its forms.
New partnerships are being established in Scotland and Wales as we broaden our UK-wide support, and we are holding exciting talks with Black Lives in Music and the Ivors Academy to formalise partnership agreements following recent successful collaboration.
Inclusion – equal access to music education
Our Diversity and Inclusion Programme is at the front of our minds in all organisational decisions and will continue to evolve, particularly in regard to equal access to music education.
Our ongoing work in this area is embedded within our strategy and continues to focus on themes such as active commissioning, transforming our syllabuses and our composer mentoring programme, Writing for Music Education, which we launched in September following a successful pilot last year. We have also been developing our partnerships which now include a range of agreements with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, National Youth Jazz Orchestra, London Music Fund, Music Mark, Royal Philharmonic Society, National Open Youth Orchestra. In particular our work with the National Open Youth Orchestra has included development of the Clarion, an accessible instrument that can be played by any part of the body, including through eye movement.
We have laid out an ambition to transform our organisation to reflect a better diversity of voices, backgrounds and perspectives. You can find out more here.
With all these initiatives and activities we know there is always more to do, but we’re excited to be taking these exciting steps towards bringing more teaching, learning and music making to more people.