Updated: Saturday, 25th October 2014 @ 11:41am

Manchester schools praised for practical music lessons despite Ofsted criticism nationwide

Manchester schools praised for practical music lessons despite Ofsted criticism nationwide

By Sean-Paul Doran

Manchester schools are being praised for practical teaching in music lessons, despite Ofsted criticising the teaching of the subject nationwide.

A recent Ofsted report criticised the lack of practical music experience that students receive in classrooms, as one in five schools gained 'inadequate' ratings.

Chorlton High School was one of the schools highlighted in the report, with Ofsted praising the 'strong working relationship between staff and students' and adding that the 'partnerships with other schools and music organisations are excellent'.

Vicky Cannell, Assistant Director of Arts College at Chorlton High, told MM: “I whole-heartedly agree that in many cases schools don't offer pupils enough opportunities to explore music in practical ways.

“Our scheme of work has a strong practical focus, ensuring that written and theory work is kept to a minimum and only used to support practical musicianship.

“Here at Chorlton High we are extremely fortunate to have excellent resources and accommodation."

Manchester Grammar School students achieved 100% success rate for 17 students who completed GCSE Music in 2010/11, with 77% achieving an A* or A. Manchester High School for Girls saw a return of 100% A* or A’s from six students who took the exam.

The report was released in as seven pupils from Manchester’s Chetham’s School of Music were shortlisted to become Young Musician of the Year.

The report was produced on evidence from 194 specialist music inspections and good practice visits in schools, including Chorlton High School, from 2008 to 2011. From these schools, the report declared 68 ‘outstanding’ for music education but one in five of these schools were rated ‘inadequate’.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said: “Inspectors looking at music teaching in nearly 200 schools saw quality ranging from outstandingly good to extremely poor. Too often, inspectors simply did not see enough music in music lessons."

This apparent theory-over-practical approach has prompted Ofsted to release six demonstrative videos along with the report, showcasing schools that meet their expectations, and offering a guide to those who require improvement.

The report, titled ‘Music in schools: wider still, and wider’, states that although many schools recognised the need to promote a range of musical styles, some schools failed to understand the progress that their students, aged 4-19, should be making.  

Although music is not one of the more popular choices at GCSE level, Manchester schools can still boast impressive records in the subject.

Ofsted are actively encouraging the English schools to take a more hands-on approach to what is essentially a hands-on subject. Deborah Annetts, inspector of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, welcomed Sir Michael’s comments, telling the BBC that the report is a 'clear signal from Ofsted of how music education needs to improve'.

Ofsted also encouraged the use of technology within music lessons and praised Chorlton High’s recording studio and extensive range of ICT equipment in their report.