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15th August 2013  Ofsted challenged over "most able pupils" report

by Józef Łopuszyński

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) has written to the Head of Ofsted to challenge Ofted's claims that potentially put the study of music in schools into a negative light.

In a statement, the ISM stated, "Ofsted has historically been supportive of rigorous subjects such as music. However, in a recent report, Ofsted chose to back the EBacc subjects and mistakenly claimed that they (maths, English, sciences, languages and history or geography) were ‘required by many of our most prestigious universities.’

We have written to Ofsted asking them to retract the statement."

The letter reads:

Dear Sir Michael,

The most able pupils

To gain access to higher education, students need to study appropriate subjects for the courses they wish to take.

Ofsted’s report The most able pupils does not appear to support this ambition; we are concerned that it inadvertently undermines the value of creative subjects in schools.

We are writing to request that Ofsted remove the non-evidenced observation in The most able pupils that ‘in 20% of the 1,649 non-selective 11 to 18 schools, not one student in 2012 achieved the minimum of two A grades and one B grade in at least two of the facilitating A-level subjects required by many of our most prestigious universities.’

First, the selected A-levels are not required for entry to these universities. Second, our most prestigious higher education institutions include our conservatoires and arts universities who do not advocate this list of selected A-levels alone. Third, the report cited as evidence to support this claim – the Russell Group’s Informed Choices – is a guide to applying to university and first and foremost recommends that pupils choose subjects based on the requirements of the relevant courses they wish to study.

This league table is based on a narrow range of subjects (published by the Department for Education) and does not take into account either the need for appropriate subject choices based on higher education pathways or the profound impact of creative learning and the growing economic strength of the UK’s creative industries.

We look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive, Incorporated Society of Musicians

Patrice Baldwin, Chair, National Drama

Nigel Carrington, Vice-Chancellor, University of the Arts London

Clare Burnett, Vice-President of the Royal British Society of Sculptors

Professor Anthony Bowne, Principal, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

Sarah Alexander, Chief Executive and Artistic Director, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain

Christine Payne, General Secretary, Equity

Rosemary Johnson, Executive Director, Royal Philharmonic Society

Carole Lindsay-Douglas, Hon. Secretary, Schools Music Association

John Mathers, CEO, Design Council

Paul McManus, Chief Executive, Music Industries Association

Augusta Quiney, Chair, Producers and Composers of Applied Music (PCAM)

Zoë Jackson, Founder & Managing Director, Living the Dream

Julia Bell, National and North East Coordinator, Contemporary Visual Arts Network

Vick Bain, Executive Director, British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA)

Replies c|o
Deborah Annetts
Chief Executive
Incorporated Society of Musicians
Stratford Place
London, W1C 1AA