I have read the Music in Education Report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Science with great interest.
In relation to primary education, I am pleased to note the unambiguous support expressed in the report for the aims, objectives, new emphases and overall methodologies of the revised music programme designed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and introduced to schools in the last school year. The phased formal implementation of the revised curriculum in schools is being linked to the delivery of the heavily resourced primary curriculum support programme, PCSP, for schools in co-operation with the Education Centre network. Phasing will not preclude schools from introducing any area of the curriculum, such as music, prior to the provision of in-career development in that area. The training strategy in the case of music, when activated, will be informed by experience gained in supporting the implementation of other areas of the revised curriculum.
The availability and use of specialist music teaching skills in primary schools is dealt with comprehensively in the teacher guidelines accompanying the revised music programme. The PCSP training phase will make use of highly skilled practitioners who will assist schools in the successful implementation of the programme. In the longer term, this expertise will be added to that already available to schools through education centres, some of which provide ongoing in-career development activity in music and act as an invaluable resource for teachers in a variety of ways, with potential to develop new strategies in the teaching of music.
My Department's inspectorate will continue to advise and support schools and individual teachers on matters pertaining to curriculum implementation. In addressing the quality of teaching and learning in schools, the process of whole school evaluation will include all aspects of the integrated curriculum in primary schools, while music may be included as a subject for specific evaluation in planning an evaluation of a second level school. School development planning, which is now the focus of substantial support from my Department, affords schools opportunities to plan the structured implementation of the music programme under the guidance of the school leadership and, where possible, to include curriculum development and support as tasks within their in-school management structures.