Here we go again: September 2021 Editorial

Harriet Clifford
Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed?

Welcome to a new academic year, and welcome to this bumper issue of Music Teacher! I hope you're feeling reasonably rested and, depending on when you psyche yourself up to open this magazine, you'll either be eking out your final days of holiday, or you'll be back in the thick of it.

A lot seems to have happened, and amid the (justified) outcry about dwindling GCSE and A Level Music entries, the EBacc, the scrapping of BTECs and some other vocational qualifications and all the other things that – specifically in England – seem to have come to a head over the summer (see pp.8–16), it's important not to forget the thousands of students who did gain music qualifications this year. They, and their teachers, deserve to be extremely proud.

August also saw the non-announcement that the already delayed National Plan for Music Education (NPME) will be published ‘early next year’. With an update to the original 2011 plan due in 2020 and then put on hold because of the pandemic, the government has appointed another advisory panel to help. The lack of teachers on this panel (specifically, as the ISM points out, teachers who are required to teach the national curriculum) has raised hackles, and it remains to be seen whether this apparent flurry of official reports and documents (MMC, Ofsted research review, consultation report, and so on) for everyone to digest will translate into actual change from those who hold the purse strings.

At the coalface, there are plenty of things music teachers can be doing every day to effect change, big or small. On pp.20–24 you'll find a back-to-school toolkit to help you start the year on the right note, and on p.30 and p.42, we take elements of the Ofsted research review and the Model Music Curriculum (MMC) respectively and encourage you to think critically about how you might implement them in practice. On pp.32–33, Anita Datta offers some invaluable advice for teaching South Asian music sensitively and engagingly, and on pp.76–77, Mike Simpson of Inspire-Works (running a session at Expo) also warns against presenting music from different cultures through a Western classical lens. Speaking of Expo, it's this month and is not to be missed. The full programme can be found on pp.45–51. See you there!

Finally, in case you didn't realise from our fabulous cover, this issue also has a Musicals focus, and there's plenty to get your teeth stuck into on that front. Ten points goes to whoever can get through my interview with Oliver Ormson (pp.26–28) without rolling their eyes at all the not-so-subtle Frozen song lyrics I had great fun squeezing in…