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A-Level Results to be Based on Teacher Assessed Grades

We are pleased that the governments across all four nations of the UK will now be basing their A-level grades on teacher assessed grades.

Published: 18 August 2020 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:31 PM
Teenage Pupil Playing Drums In Music Lesson
An alarming drop in A-level music students in England has been reported. Photo: Shutterstock

This follows public outcries in Scotland and England after A-level students saw their results unfairly downgraded, forcing both governments into u-turns.

The Welsh and Northern Irish governments had already confirmed that A-level, AS, GCSE, Skills Challenge Certificate and Welsh Baccalaureate grades would be awarded on the basis of teacher assessments.

“We are relieved that the debacle around the A-level results and downgrading of predicted grades, which disproportionately affected pupils from less affluent backgrounds, has been addressed,” said MU National Organiser for Education and Training and Chair of the UK Music Education and Skills Committee Diane Widdison.

“Our many members who work across the whole of the education sector have worked hard to ensure their students have been able to continue their music education through this very difficult time,” she added.

A-level music in crisis

At the same time as welcoming the change, music industry umbrella body UK Music and the MU warn of a crisis facing music in schools after exam results revealed an alarming drop in A level music students in England.

The number of students taking A-level music has dropped by an 32% in over the past six years – five times the drop in the total number of people studying A-levels over the same period – according to OFQUAL.

“We have real concerns about what the situation will be for music in schools in the next academic year as schools are under tremendous pressure to comply with the challenges of pupils returning and music as a subject is sometimes easier to sideline than it is to try and accommodate,” explained Widdison.

“Research by the MU already reveals a class divide in music lessons, as children from low income backgrounds are half as likely to learn a music instrument – with cost the greatest barrier to learning,” she said.  

Levelling the playing field

Director of Education and Skills at UK Music Dr Oliver Morris said, “It is vital that children and young people from all walks of life should have access to music and there is strong evidence to suggest that students who are engaged in their education through music fare better at maths and English.

“Music contributes a huge amount to our economy and the cultural fabric of all of our lives. We need to do more to encourage young people to study music in schools, ensure that all have equal opportunities to pursue this as a career and make sure they can make a living by playing music.

“The results reveal an inequity that demands our attention if we hope to level the playing field and ensure anyone no matter their background has an opportunity to develop to the best of their ability. Barriers to involvement that stifle diversity in music threaten the talent pipeline which is so vital to the UK music industry.”

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