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Reducing opportunities for our talented young people to study music at KS4

Many of you will be aware of the decision to make the Ebac compulsory for pupils in maintained state schools. Did you know that the Ebac doesn’t include the Arts? Did you know that Schools who refuse to conform cannot be graded as Outstanding…..meaning that Headteachers will have to conform (although some are indicating that they will not).

Encore Enterprises is a non-political organisation, but we are greatly concerned that the compulsory Ebac will severely limit the opportunity for our young musicians to be able to study music at GCSE/BTec Level – particularly if they wish to study two arts options. This goes against the National Plan for Music Education which is a key policy by the DfE and to which Herefordshire Music Service and our partner schools and other organisations continue to deliver very successfully throughout the county. Sadly, despite significant research (which I could spend all day quoting!) those making the decisions have not yet grasped the proven educational benefits that music brings and continue to treat it as a minority subject for the few at KS4. In my view they are failing to consider individual pupils who might be interested and/or talented in the arts and are unfairly limiting their KS4 options.

Cliff Woollard

MD Encore Enterprises

Head of Herefordshire Music Service

26 June 2015


Below is a report by Hans van Mourik Broekman in the Times Education Supplement (TES) 22nd June 2015 which you might be interested to read

‘The compulsory Ebac is a question of conscience’

The recent government announcement that all pupils will be expected to enter and sit GCSE subjects for the English Baccalaureate (Ebac) has created a crisis of conscience among headteachers.

Details of the policy are, as usual, to be revealed later. The government has grudgingly conceded that a very small minority of pupils will not be expected to sit five GCSE examinations including English, maths, history or geography science and a foreign language.

Currently, about 39 per cent of pupils in the country are entered for this combination of qualifications, and approximately 24 per cent passed all five. Most schools are already entering pupils whom they believe to have a good chance of passing the subjects for the Ebac. The mandatory expansion of the Ebac curriculum to include nearly all pupils at age 16 therefore has the potential to entrap thousands of pupils in a curriculum which suits neither their interests, nor their talents, nor their needs.

The threat to downgrade schools who do not obey this edict imposes a painful but – from a government’s point of view, one assumes – highly effective Hobsonian choice for all headteachers.

Previous reforms of league tables and the Ofsted framework could be defended to pupils and parents in terms of a necessary pursuit of higher standards for all in core skills. They could also be argued to be preparation for basic skills without which one could not take a next step in education or life. There was particular focus on English and maths, leaving much space in the curriculum for other subjects and pursuits. This space compensated for the fact that more than 40 per cent of pupils nationally do not pass English and maths at GCSE.

The compulsory Ebac reform essentially creates one curriculum for all the 14-16 year olds in the country and leaves very little room to match curriculum with pupils’ needs, interests and future plans. As heads we know a substantial percentage of our pupils need a curriculum other than the one being imposed. We can see the effects of making a pupil follow a course of study which is not appropriate for them – in short, alienation, apathy, and failure.

Because every curriculum is by nature a choice which precludes other choices, the mandatory nature of the policy and the extent to which it will dominate available options for pupils will deliver a blow to plans to improve technical and vocational education and will put a further nail into the coffin of arts education.

The policy has the unintended effect of downgrading and trivializing the aspirations and value of at least half the population by not providing high quality appropriate options for them. This policy says that the child determined to become a plumber must sit examinations in not two but five of the same subjects and qualifications as the child determined to go to Oxbridge. The policy therefore removes the room which schools should be given to differentiate for the aptitudes and interests of all their pupils.

Our school received a letter from school minster Nick Gibb MP praising our Ebac performance and we are also working hard toward satisfying the demands of Ofsted as a school rated good with outstanding features in pursuit of an outstanding rating. This new policy will crystalize in the minds of many heads of non-selective state schools like ours that they may now have to make a choice to either follow their conscience and their duty of care to pupils, or follow the precepts of Ofsted and impose a curriculum which their pupils can neither access nor succeed in.

Our Year 9 students are currently reading To Kill a Mocking Bird together. I do not think they have reached the immortal chapter in which Atticus Finch instructs the members of the jury to “do their duty”. But the headteachers of England appear to have been brought to the point where they will have to examine their conscience as to whether it allows them to impose on their pupils a curriculum which they know is inappropriate for them. The time is approaching for us to do our duty.

Read more on the TES website

‘Protect Music Education’ campaign

Encore Enterprises CIC has no political affiliation or bias. We work with many politicians of varying political parties at both local Government and National Government levels. We do of course eagerly await the impact of the General Election and the effect it will have on our future funding – both in the short and long term. In the meantime, we are proud to show our continued support for the national  ‘Protect Music Education’ campaign’s 5 key areas:


1. Funding

A sustainable annual ring-fenced fund of a minimum of £82.5m for music education hubs and services. This is imperative to allow sustainable planning for the development of high quality music education opportunities for all.

2. Progression

Accessible and affordable opportunities for all regardless of circumstances to build on and progress beyond wider opportunities and whole class ensemble tuition. Consistency of availability of progression routes for all pupils as part of a high quality music education; this includes continued support for the Music and Dance Scheme and Conservatoires.

3. Ofsted

A school should not be able to be rated as ‘Outstanding’ unless its music education is rated as at least Good, recognising that music sits as part of a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum.

4. Teachers

Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and ongoing professional development for primary teachers should include an appropriate level of training to deliver a high quality music education with confidence. Specialist secondary music teacher training should also continue to be supported.

5. School accountability

Music is economically and educationally valuable and valued; this value should be recognised by the Government and – where appropriate – should be recognised within school league tables.


First Visit by Herefordshire Youth Orchestra to Ross on Wye

On Saturday Herefordshire Youth Orchestra played for the first time in Ross on Wye. Their performance was hosted by St Marys Church, and from the first rousing notes of Wagner’s Prelude to Meistersinger, the rafters were reverberating with huge sound.

Conducted by Hazel Davis and Sir Richard Mynors the fifty players, ranging in age from 12 to 19, delighted the audience with their programme – ranging from the enormous sound of Wagner to the delicate orchestration of Faure’s Dolly Suite and closing with three movements from Dvorak’s New World Symphony, where the woodwind, brass and percussion had their chance to shine.

However, the highlight of the evening was the glorious sound of Raye Harvey, violinist and leader of the orchestra, who stilled the church with her performance of the 1st movement of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. Raye, aged 18, is a student of Hereford Sixth Form College and has won a place in the Royal Northern College of Music for the next academic year. So this was our only chance to hear her before she leaves for what we expect to be a rich career in music. We hope she will return in years to come.

Many of the orchestra started by playing in one of the beginner ensembles, moving up to more senior ensembles as they made progress with their instruments. The Music Service is very proud of the dedication and discipline of the young players who give up hours of their time to lessons and practice with their teachers and then rehearsal, every Tuesday evening, in Hereford’s Shirehall. As Raye has demonstrated, they are our hope for the future of live music, becoming the ensemble players and soloists in years to come.

Herefordshire Youth Orchestra is the ‘flagship’ ensemble of Herefordshire Music Service. Run by Encore Enterprises and supported by Arts Council England, new members are always welcome to join the Music Service’s ensembles. Contact details: 01432 853219,,

Ross on Wye looks forward to their next performance and wishes all the players every success in their musical careers, especially those who are leaving the Orchestra this summer and launching themselves into the wider world of music-making.



OMG Herefordshire – Open to Entry

OMG Herefordshire once again open to entry for young musicians

Following the stellar success of Raye Harvey’s performance at the LG Arena last year, Herefordshire Music Service is happy to announce we are commissioning The Music Pool to deliver the second annual OMG Herefordshire competition.

Now open to everyone between the ages of 12 and 18, OMG Herefordshire aims to find the best young artist from the area, who will go to represent the county at OMG Live at the LG Arena in Birmingham. The competition closes on Friday 9th January 2015, at which point a shortlist of performers will be derived from entrants via consultation with some of the most active members of Herefordshire’s youth music scene, both young and old!

From there, the shortlist of acts will perform before a panel of judges at a final showdown at The Courtyard Centre for the Arts on February 8th. The winner of this showdown will not only get the chance to perform at one of the nation’s most prominent venues, but also have the chance to participate in a number of professional master-classes both before and after the event.

To enter OMG Herefordshire and be in with a chance of winning these amazing opportunities, simply upload a video to Youtube and email the link with a completed application form to

To get an application form, check terms and conditions or for any further queries, please get in touch with The Music Pool on 01432 278118 or visit their website at

To view the OMG flier, please click here.

A ‘Broad and Balanced Curriculum’ for our pupils

A ‘Broad and Balanced Curriculum’ for our pupils

Herefordshire Music Service was pleased to read several positive aspects in the recently published OFSTED ‘Report of Her Majesty’s Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2013/14.’

We are pleased that our secondary school partners continue to provide ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ schools to the majority of pupils across the county. We congratulate our primary schools on their 11% increase in the numbers of schools being judged as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding.’

Working in partnership with around 80% of schools across the county, Herefordshire Music Service knows the impacts that high quality music education can make to our children and young people. Working with 3,000 pupils every week inevitably has an impact upon pupil’s progress and also that of our schools. Beyond musical skills, there is now much demonstrable evidence of the additional educational and social benefits that learning an instrument or singing brings. This was clearly evidenced by an inspirational primary headteacher at the Westminster Education Forum conference in London on 9th December where he showed that by implementing a significant musical/cultural offer, the impact it had upon both pupil progress and the school’s OFSTED rating.

Given the additional impact that music has upon both pupil and school improvement/progress, we were also delighted to read the following extract with the OFSTED report. As you will read, OFSTED are taking a proactive approach on ensuring that schools focus not just on literacy and numeracy, but on schools providing our young people with a ‘broad and balanced curriculum’ offer. Having raised this directly with OFSTED, we very much support their initiative to identify the best examples of a broad and balanced curriculum in our schools. Let’s hope that they start with Herefordshire, as we have some great examples here which we should be shouting about!

Cliff Woollard

Head of Herefordshire Music Service
Managing Director of Encore Enterprises CIC

Section 50 from the OFSTED Report:

50. Children should enjoy a curriculum that provides a rich variety of knowledge and experience in school, no matter what their skills and abilities, and regardless of their personal circumstances. For the past few years, the emphasis of Ofsted’s inspection has rightly been on standards in English and mathematics. It is now time to broaden our focus. As our inspections of schools in Birmingham showed this year, it is vitally important that schools offer a broad and balanced curriculum that contributes to the social, moral, spiritual and cultural development of pupils. It is essential to prepare pupils for life in Britain today. In addition to reporting on the quality of schools’ curricula in routine inspections, Ofsted will undertake a survey to identify the best examples of a broad and balanced curriculum in England this coming year.

Courtyard Panto – Jack and the Beanstalk

The Courtyard is currently running a production of “Jack and the Beanstalk” which the Managing Director of Encore Enterprises was invited along to, he had the following to say:

“We were invited to the Courtyard’s ‘Opening Night’ of their panto season to see Jack and the Beanstalk. I’ve never been to a panto at the Courtyard before. I have to say that it was absolutely hilarious! We laughed pretty much from start to finish! The ability to link the story of Jack and the Beanstalk alongside current topical themes/songs and also with Hereford was brilliant. I won’t go any further and spoil it for those of you who are going to see it! If you hadn’t planned to, then I thoroughly recommend it. We might even go again…”

Cliff Woollard 02.12.14

For more information and to book tickets for yourself, please click here

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