This is the third in a series of posts about exam board subject advisors for music. You can see the interview with Marie Jones of OCR here and Catherine Webster of WJEC/Eduqas here. The interview questions that have been given to each advisor can be found by clicking here.
Before we dive into this next interview, a quick update on the current status of interview requests. This post means that we have heard back from three of the four exam boards offering GCSE/A-Level Music. Despite repeated requests, there has still been no response from AQA. Rockschool’s Patrick Healy has agreed to contribute to the series with a focus on their Music Practitioner qualifications.
Jeffery Hole features in this instalment of the interview series as the newly appointed Subject Advisor for Music at Pearson. It’s great news for Edexcel and BTEC Music teachers that Jeffery has taken on this role, which is the first time that Pearson has had a Subject Advisor for Music. I’ve already noticed his presence on social media and I’m sure that I won’t be alone in looking forward to seeing what he has in store for music teachers.
What is the name of your subject advisor for music?
How does your board support teachers when it comes to selecting the right qualification for their centre?
We have run been running free launch events for the new specifications in order for teachers to understand the approach in our specification and assessment. There are training events in order to prepare for first teaching of the specification or transitioning from other boards. Further details of these can be found at http://qualifications.pearson.com/en/support/training-from-pearson-uk.html.
We develop lots of free support to help with first teaching and there are our draft specifications, examples of assessment material and the presentation from our launch events available on the Edexcel Music webpage.
Throughout the life of the specification we offer support through training, free resources and exemplar material and, as Subject Advisor, I will give regular updates in newsletters. Teachers can email me at TeachingMusic@pearson.com and ask any queries about the delivery of the qualification.
Finally, we have our Ask The Expert service where teachers can email any queries they have about delivery or assessment and get a response from experienced assessors and examiners.
If a music teacher submitted a question to your board, how long would (s)he have to wait for an answer?
A Subject Specialist will be able to answer a lot of queries immediately and I work closely with the team on FAQs. I will endeavour to reply to any queries as quickly as I possibly can and most queries can be dealt with on the same day. Our Ask The Expert service is a maximum of 3 working days as these tend to be more specialised questions.
To what extent does your music subject advisor engage with teachers on social media?
As Subject Advisor for Edexcel and BTEC, I have a presence on Twitter, @teachingmusic1, and will post regularly and interact with teachers on Twitter. There is also the Pearson Music Facebook Page and, again, I am happy to interact and reply to queries through Facebook. I have joined Music Mark’s Peer to Peer Network and would be happy to answer any questions related to the qualifications through this. I regularly monitor forums on TES and other communities and will be developing a Music Forum via the communities section of the Pearson website.
For centres struggling to deliver strong results in music, what can your board do to help them?
Depending on what part of the course they are struggling with, we can help with guidance on performing and composing with free support documents showing different approaches, exemplars with marks and commentaries to ensure teachers understand the standard. For appraising, we will be producing set works support documents and guidance on wider listening. Through my updates I will offer guidance on specific issues and there can be CPD training events to help with delivery and assessment. There is always the direct contact the centre can have with Subject Specialists and myself, the Subject Advisor, through telephone or email.
What do you see as the key strengths of your current draft specifications for music?
We have worked with a range of stakeholders to ensure we have designed specifications that give students a good base in music and aid progression from GCSE to A-Level and from A-Level to HE. At GCSE we see our areas of study and set works as a key strength to introduce students to a range of musical types, and the mark schemes for performing and composing are really clear and teachers can apply them accurately. The A-Level selling points are the co-teachability approach between our AS and A-Level specification and the composition brief assessing technique.
If Ofqual wasn’t a factor, what would you change about your draft specifications?
Ofqual are a factor and it would be very difficult to not consider them in the decisions when designing the new draft specifications. It is important to consider this as they ensure comparability between all exam boards and all boards need to follow the parameters set.
Is there anything else that you want music teachers know about how you support them?
I am very excited about beginning in the post of Subject Advisor for Music and Music Technology at Pearson. I have had many years of experience teaching and managing music programmes and think that my background in teaching can offer great support to all teachers. I would encourage all teachers to book on to our free launch events and our Getting Ready To Teach events as these will give great detail on the structure and how we can support teachers throughout.