Another UK school removes music from curriculum

Another UK school removes music from curriculum


norman lebrecht

June 28, 2017

The Joyce Frankland Academy in Newport, near Saffron Walden, Essex, has withdrawn music from the timetable of 11-13 year-olds.

Its head says: ‘By doing this with music, we can be creative and we can continue to protect all the other subjects.’

Note the use of the term ‘creative’. Nothing to do with the arts.

Story here.


  • Eric says:

    This is ridiculous. The implication is that it will then be reintroduced at the age of 14, or in Year 9. But why? Year 9 is the year in which children are making their all-important choices for GCSE subjects which they begin to study in Year 10 (for overseas readers, GCSEs are a two-year course, culminating in an exam in the summer of Year 11, at the age of 16). And they make those GCSE choices very early on in Year 9. How many are going to gamble on taking music for GCSE when they haven’t been taught it at all for the previous 2 years? And as for pursuing it for A-level…

    • Frederick West says:

      Maybe the shape of things to come, maybe not. Your fears are true in this case as, after a quick glance at their website, they don’t seem to be offering the subject at any key stage. This recent axing seems to simplify things by eradicating the subject altogether.
      It’s an academy school of course so they don’t have to implement the national curriculum at all.
      Funny to note their musical for next spring is going to be Spamolot. I suppose that mirrors their Pythonesque outlook. They won’t be the only school, you can be sure of that.

  • John Borstlap says:

    It’s one of the results of the BSE crisis of the nineties, which has long after-effects.

    • Quatermass says:

      Bortslap you are talking rubbish as usual. BSE has nothing to do with the removal of music from the curriculum. Humans cannot acquire BSE, it is an animal disease, humans can get nvCJD, the commonest source of infection being hormone therapy and blood transfusion. The Krebs Model used for BSE /nvCJD which predicted mass epidemics in the UK was shown to be invalid. Another example of poorly applied mathematics and not understanding disease aetiology. Kindly keep your comments to subjects you know about do not comment on things you have no clue about.

  • Michael Endres says:

    Seems a result of mad cow disease to me.

  • jim says:

    “…protect all the other subjects”
    Who knew music could be so dangerous.
    Well, all of us here, I suspect

  • Shaun Davey says:

    The main reasons for the decline in new “classical” music since the early 20th century to the present are only too apparent.
    Firstly, talent it takes real talent, creative ability and genius to compose great original music, the last century has really shown a steep fall in the quality of new music. The composers definitely were not as good as in previous centuries, their music will never match theirs in quality nor will it last or be remembered . Then there was a gradual shift away from tonal to the tuneless atonal music. Composers were no longer as previous, jobbing composers to make a living, the trend was that composing has now ended up in the domain of academics with safe days jobs, who do not depend on their music to make a living. As Bernard Shaw rightly said, those who can do, those who can’t teach.
    There are several reasons for this latter trend, the establishment of radio broadcasts and the record industry severely disrupted the market for sheet music for home music making, which is now completely extinct except in places like Ireland and Scotland which still have a strong folk tradition of home music making. The decline in home music making meant that future generations experience music by proxy second hand. Further home music making was an important part of musical education, for example, often learning the tin whistle or fiddle was initially done in the home with family members, once home music making died out it was left to the schools to fill the gap. Now with downloading etc it is even worse.
    The trend away from home music making had another major effect in that music performance was now in the hands of professionals rather than amateurs or home performers.
    Other factors which contributed to the decline of the quality of new music, are the two world wars, 38 million first world war, over 60 million in the second world war. These two events must have had a detrimental impact on new music development in the last century, which impacts into the 21st century. Composers who might have survived might have written better music it is possible but equally they might have written more of the atonal stuff
    Could this situation be reversed in some way. The only way is to try to encourage home music making again within families rather than relying on radio, CDs, records and downloads. However with today’s social problems and family breakdowns this would indeed be an uphill struggle. Maybe if the primary schools handed out free tin whistles it would be at least a start!
    I learnt my music from my father ,grandfather and uncles from the 1960s, by the age of 7 I could play fiddle, tin whistle and Bodhrán, by 12 the Uilleann pipes. I also was given a book of music by the Scottish composer James Scott Skinner so I learnt in addition to Irish trad, jigs, slip jigs, slow airs, hornpipes, reels, polkas, mazurkas, Strathspeys and marches.

    Here is one of my own compositions a suite for Uilleann pipes and orchestra, The Brendan Voyage it shows what you can do with Irish trad.

  • Eric says:

    There’s a follow-up to this, from the head teacher at the school involved:

    “From September, music in Years 7 and 8 will be taught in a series of drop down days throughout the year. During the course of these days students will cover the current music curriculum. The intention is that we will set these sessions based on musical experience and aptitude to ensure that the curriculum meets their needs and provides the appropriate amount of challenge for all students.

    Our intention is that we will deliver these sessions in an innovative way and we have already lined up some guest musicians to deliver some of the sessions. We will also be able to do some off site teaching in specialist facilities like music studios, theatres and concert halls.”