A sad day for music(24 Posts)
I have just come back from our local music service ensembles.
We are so lucky that there are groups and ensembles for all instruments and 2 county choirs.
It is coming up to concert and summer courses time and the staff are giving it their all.
So many children are not able to perform in the concerts or courses as their school won't allow them the time off. There were 6 out of one group we attended tonight and it has finally dawned on the service that this is a huge problem.
In the past the service had a list of children and their school and contacted them to say they would be educated off site.
Now the parents are having to apply direct to the school and are being refused. Sometimes the child has good attendance other times it is because they have had time off before for such things.
Gove is killing music and no doubt other extra curricular activities requiring time off school.
My dd isn't affected as fortunately we H.ed, but it is a poor state of affairs that has really saddened me.
By contrast, morethan, DD (y9) is playing with our music service youth orchestra in a lunchtime concert next week.
The music service conductor took a list of all children involved and schools and contacted them requesting the day off. Two secondary schools said yes straightaway, this included DDs, with no further action, the others have said yes but require a form to be filled in by parents.
DD had an ace report this week, but actually has a lowish attendance due to illness, (and had a further 3 days off last week), but not a problem. She has also been helping with a primary school event all week this week within school (no lessons) and had 6 days off curriculum to play for the school musical last term.
DS2s school makes no fuss about the very occasional request for chorister duty, the Master of Music contacts them direct.
Our school are so hot on absence that there isn't a form to request it and the stated policy is that they don't approve anything. I must write good letters because whatever absence I've asked for they've approved, three days at the end of term for a residential music course, half a day to play in a junior school, leaving early to catch a coach for a contest. He misses more lessons through things that school have organised than through music.
Here requests for absence have to come from the parent but I'm not sure whether they work with the music service for educated off site. I know that two of the county ensembles meet for a week in July but DS is in the one that has its residential course during half term.
Not Music but DD has a lot of time off for sport. When she first got to this level I made an appt with the head, explained where she was, and that she'd likely need increasing time off. The head is new and has brought in very strict absence/late rules, so I wasn't expecting immediate and full agreement.
Apparently it works for the school, as they can show they can accommodate "additional educational needs". In fact DD was trotted out for the last Ofsted inspection.
Could be worth asking parents to prep the head when their DC joins orchestra? Or for the service to write a pro-forma letter for the school to go with the absence request. I have heard that some parents just fill in the form dates without a full explanation, and the Head needs to know exactly why they are authorising time off and what the child will be doing.
I was in orchestras as part of an excellent local music service and I don't remember ever needing time off school tbh. Residential courses and tours took place during school holidays, other rehearsals were at weekends.
I did sixth-form in school, so the attendance rules still applied up to the age of 18. Thankfully, this was more than 10 years ago... and my school received a totally vague letter from my mother authorising me to be "off school premises for educational purposes." I'm not sure how we got away with that one, but it meant being able to go to concerts at lunchtime and all sorts (playing and listening). Mwahahahaha!
We haven't had any trouble at all with our DC's being off school for concerts, shows (all 3 of them were off all day on Wednesday because they had a school's matinee for the show they are in all week, had to check in at the theatre at 12 and the distance the theatre is from the schools (and the fact that 3 schools were involved, none near each other) made it logistically impossible for them to go in for say the first 2 hours), festivals, exams, and in one case (DD2) instrumental lessons (the school peri retired last summer, the school didn't get a new one in, instead gave permission for DD2 to leave half an hour early on Fridays to go to a nearby school and have her lesson there with the peri who will continue to teach her at secondary school). DD1 is missing the whole last week of term for a residential course at the Guildhall - her attendance is abysmal too, since she has had a lot of hospital treatment this year as well as the absences for music (but nothing else).
I dislike Gove intensely and I do believe he is destroying school music intentionally but the absence thing is definitely down to head teachers because there is a code for relevant activities and they are able to use it if they wish.
That's very sad ds2 has had time off for acting and it's not been a problem - I actually emailed school to thank them this week because I know other schools can be difficult. They mark him down as educated off site (he's year 7 so not a critical year).
I am still sad this morning, it seems such a shame and un called for.
Some children are fine and have had no problems, but if they have had illness or off for something else, they are being refused.
So those in orchestra are ok, they have had permission for a whole weeks residential tour, but they can't join the workshops/ courses which means they miss vital work and can't be in the concerts.
The same if they play more than one instrument and are in several ensembles, they are refused and can choose just one.
It is only an annual event as well, so its not like they always need time off.
The children have worked so hard and practised concert pieces all term, to be told they can't perform, it must be so soul destroying.
If only HTs would be prepared/allowed to state they are being educated off site there would be no problem. I can see it coming to parents being fined for absences in line with un authorised absence for holidays in term time.
It just all seems so wrong.
They are allowed to. They are just not prepared to. It's an individual decision.
DH suggests it maybe an academies thing. Agree with herc it's an individual school thing to,allow absence as educated off site.
We have been very lucky with our schools. They value external skills at high level in what ever field. I guess it's easy because absence doesn't affect results ( being high academic achievers etc). We've never had any absence refused ( afternoons and even days for broadcasts, occ days for tours etc) . Other kids have time off for three day eventing , Olympic training camps etc.
Like the poster who said her child was used to demonstrate positives to ofstead these achievements are always recognised and celebrated As a positive " of our school "
It sounds like orchestras & choirs would be better if they came under the same regulations as dancers. & actors.
In two weeks time a local theatre is holding a dance festival. I'm taking 12 dancers from a variety of schools. Parents have not had to apply to the school direct goecthecday off but to the local authority. The law says permission can only be refused if a head teacher can come up with a sound, educational reason.
It's a pain applying for these licences but it does make things clear.
DD1 has never had any trouble and they have let DD2 have a day off to hear her in something very special.
Haven't got to ask this time as she's between GCSEs and sixth form.
Very few people going, so I wonder if schools are getting awkward.
Since she gives up big chunks of her 1/2 terms for choir I would be absolutely furious if school were awkward.
Picture licences are an interesting thought but I suspect would kill the music providers financially. They would also mean that actually some kids might not be able to perform .
Choristers doing services can do many hours rehearsal and " performance " in a short time - say Easter week without legal problems (services don't need licences) . However, stupidly we've had concerts (we have to have licences for paid performances now) when the under 18s couldn't perform in the 1st half as the break between rehearsal and concert was too short for licence requirements. And then there is the issue of crb checked chaperones too. Imagine that for an orchestra!
And thinking that through, if schools/ music service stuff needed licences then during gala concert weeks etc dd would clock up too many hours to be allowed to perform.
The current licence stuff seems to be really for kids in long running west end type set ups . It doesn't seem to allow for stuff that might cluster into bouts of intense activity
It's free to apply for a licence but I see your point about rehearsals.
I felt so sorry for the chorister who wasn't allowed to perform Chichester Psalms at The Proms due to the anomaly between theatre & televised events.
Licences are a PITA though - my LA is very good & will issue one very quickly but they're not all like that.
County choir shouldn't need complicated licences.
DD has only ever asked for one day off a year for big regional/national events.
Hardly much to ask after they have given up three days of various 1/2 terms and several evenings and/or weekends, for serious proper music workshops.
The number of DC prepared to turn up always amazes me, they really do work and the recitals for parents on the last day are brilliant.
Mr Gove and Mr W (head of OFSTED) should be dragged along to listen!
I agree. Luckily ds2's school does see the value in that sort of thing (helps that the head was originally a drama teacher I think) but I feel sorry for those in schools where there's a battle every time.
Gove's an idiot.
Never had a problem here geting school sign off for external rehearsals, exams, auditions and the like for DD1 either previous or current school (she moved for 6th form). She's even allowed extra visit days as considering CUKAS as well as UKAS.
Previous school much less musocal, did get some individual teachers being grumpy when missing their lessons for in-school concert rehearsals or peri lessons.
Current school also get annoyed when peri lessons clash with their concert rehearsals too.
DD2's new head (she goes into Y7 in September) has already told us he is delighted she does all sorts of extra curricular stuff that will require time off school like her sister - he says it will make it easier for him to write her university reference when the time comes.
In our school they are killing things like music at the very grass roots levels. Dd really enjoys music, she has violin lessons through school and practices every night at home. But, she isn't allowed to join in with class music lessons at school as she has to go and do extra literacy lessons as her phonics knowledge isn't up to standard. So they push her to something that she doesn't enjoy and she misses a lesson that she would get a lot of enjoyment out of because literacy and maths are all that gove and the government are bothered about, I know that reading is important, but there must be a better way of timetable in lessons to ensure that our future musicians are able to get a love of music.
I know my issue is a different to what you are talking about, but it shows how low the priority is for secondary subjects. many non academic children may be able to find something that they are good at but miss the opportunity as they are so busy being pushed and pushed for the school targets.
Do your LA run a county service for after school music activities and ensembles.
Ours have lots of groups at every level and you are encouraged to join a beginners group before achieving grade one.
There is hardly any music in schools, some allow peris in but most have lessons from the LA outside school.
Your post reminded me of this, (first time I've tried to post with a clickable link so hope it works.
I was actually shown it at a recent Governors' Ofsted training session, delivered by a senior Inspector, who felt that although the video is a special school, he felt it summed up exactly why he went into education and what it is all about, and how we should all feel.
There are still some schools prioritising music, primary and secondary. My DCs are lucky to be at such schools, secondary employs its own instrument teachers. Locally here more primaries are employing teachers specifically to run music with the school, another local primary has just appointed some-one for September for the first time. So I'm not giving up hope just yet for the future!
Raspberry, that is exactly what I mean. Dd is the duck who is being stopped from doing what she enjoys to just try and scrape through in a subject that she doesn't enjoy. It makes me so sad that her school (and statistics) only see the main subjects as important rather than finding each child's 'thing' that they will flourish in.
She may never be a grade 8 musician, but if she enjoys it, that is enough for me.
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