Last month (September) I sent out a small informal survey to principals in
Northern Ireland to garner information on the amount and type of music provision that was taking place in primary schools classrooms.
This survey succeeded a survey of primary school teachers which I distributed in June. I have collated and briefly analysed the returns from both surveys, the principals' survey in this blog post.
Google drive link to the Teachers' Survey returns Document:
Google drive link to the Principals' Survey returns document:
I was absolutely delighted to get such a high return from teachers which made for very interesting (and encouraging!) reading. Sending the prinicpals' survey during Sept amidst a global pandemic, however, was ambitious and I was very happy with the number of returns I got, considering the additional pressures on the shoulders of school leaders at this time. I appreciated each and every individual taking the time to make the return.
Using a free survey app, I could only retrieve a maximum of 100 returns per survey.
Music Provision in Primary Schools - Principals' Survey
Link to full survey results document: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1byw2OBH3WczsplYzB_uVzoB0GS7Mg5T7/view?usp=sharing
Of the schools whose principals returned the survey, most were small; two thirds had one class per year group or composite.
In terms of curriculum music delivery, the majority of music is delivered by the class teacher or on afternoon swap over/cover.
I'm particularly interested in what sort of barriers exist when it comes to the provision of music education, one of which I wondered was confidence. Around half of school leaders considered their staff (generally) to be reasonably confident, with a quarter of them under confident, however, some were keen to point out that this was only a generalised comment with most schools of course having a mix of confidence levels, which suggests maybe most teachers come to a school with prior knowledge or ability (or not) rather than building skills in curriculum music delivery as a whole staff, collectively.
Apart from one school that returned they organise annual training for staff within the area of curriculum music, all other schools had either never or infrequently provided their staff with training and support specific to curriculum music.
Another barrier for music education, that probably goes hand in hand with confidence of teachers given the lack of EA support in music is budget. Generally, most principals admitted that provision of music was hampered by budget; the accompanying further comments for this question can be seen in the picture below:
With regard to school development, many schools had included curriculum music on a School Development Plan at some point, but nearly quarters of principals stated this had last happened at least three years ago, which is understandable as literacy and numeracy tend to be prioritised, however it was interesting to see that one school is combining music with SEN on their current SDP which is fantastic! The difference that regular engagement music can make on the brain and its development is well researched and proven; but that's for another blog! For now I'll encourage you to watch this gorgeous video about why regular engagement in music in the classroom is so important...my favourite is number 8: music is an educational building block: https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/bring-the-noise/ten-reasons-music-is-good-for-the-classroom/zmmbf4j/
Thank you for taking the time to read and engage! I found the returns so interesting to read and as an advocate for music education I hope I have managed to provoke some thought with regard to the importance of music in the classroom. :)
PS If you are interested in reading about the Teachers' Survey, click here for the blog: