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On the beat

News and events from around the world this month

Learning difficulties?

The ABRSM, the UKs leading music examinations board, will be drafting a new model music curriculum for the Government. Why has its appointment raised question?

By Harry White

The ABRSM is the UK’s largest administrator of music examinations
ELMA AQUINO

On 11 January the UK’s Department for Education (DfE) announced proposals for a new ‘model curriculum’ for music, ‘developed by a group of teachers, education leaders and musicians [to] be published in summer 2019’. The curriculum was to provide schools ‘with a sequenced and structured template curriculum for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3’. In February, school standards minister Nick Gibb posted on Twitter that ‘ABRSM has won a competitive process to draft the new non-statutory Model Music Curriculum, ’ since when controversy has gradually gathered momentum. In March, responding to parliamentary questioning, the Government was compelled to acknowledge that only three organisations had been invited to bid for the contract to draft the model curriculum, and that two of them, the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and Music Mark, declined the invitation, leaving ABRSM as the only ‘competitor’. It was further revealed, following freedom of information requests from the Times Educational Supplement in April, that the organisations were only given eight days’ notice between invitation and bid submission, and that as part of its tender application ABRSM claimed it had ‘already progressed some of the required work’. Despite the fact that the Government’s procurement rules permit selective tendering, industry experts and practitioners have been quick to question the legitimacy of the process.This has been further exacerbated by the fact that the government-appointed ‘expert panel’, which Nick Gibb tweeted would ‘steer’ ABRSM, includes ABRSM chief executive Michael Elliott, along with Linda Merrick, a member of the ABRSM governing body.

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About The Strad

We conclude our investigation of Stradivari’s moulds and examine some radical teaching methods. Vadim Gluzman, Philip Dukes and Matthew Barley are interviewed and there’s our annual Accessories supplement, featuring carbon fibre bows, wolf eliminators, mutes and lots more.