Ofsted wants music class to be less fun

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The Independent Online

"If music be the food of love, play on", Shakespeare's Twelfth Night begins. However, while the bard appears to believe music can bring great pleasure to those who listen to it, Ofsted inspectors, it seems, would rather it did not.

A report by Ofsted, the education standards watchdog, on Barnwood Park High School for Girls in Gloucester says it concentrates too much on fun and enjoyment in music lessons. It concluded: "Pupils are under-achieving in music because the teaching is unsatisfactory – it places too much emphasis on fun rather than learning."

The findings come at a time of great debate over how music should be taught in school. A recent university study suggested that pupils would get more out of music if they were allowed to start by copying their pop idols.

Barnwood Park's music teacher, Gill Moseley, believes the inspector who sat in on her teaching may have been put off by the sight of a book on pop music on the piano. But apart from the criticism of the music lessons, the 587-pupil school for 11- to 16-year-olds received a fairly glowing report.

Gill Pyatt, the headteacher, said: "We were horrified about what it had to say about music. Music lessons have to be conducted in appalling conditions at the moment – and we just think that if the music teacher can instil such enjoyment into lessons in damp and clammy conditions, what could she do when we get a brand new music suite?

"Secondly, it's only by being fun that you can give pupils a love of music." The school has been waiting two years for a new music and drama room and at present music is taught in a damp, leaky room.

The inspector said Mrs Moseley should spend more time on the "technical aspects of the subject rather than promoting enjoyment".