Music education - transformational change in Victoria

Victoria is undergoing transformational change in Education - including Music Education. We are in a serendipitous situation where various inquiries and reviews have been undergone throughout the sector, and with the installation of a new Andrews Labor government, we see the launch of 'The Education State'.

The last two years

The recommendations out of the Victorian Inquiry into the Extent, Benefits and Potential of Music Education 2013, under the Napthine leadership, commenced a process that has been built upon by the incoming Labor government. The establishment of the Music Education expert Reference Group and Bastow Seminars commenced in late 2014. At this time, the Federal Wiltshire/Donnelly report was published, with clear recommendations to the education sector for improvement - including music education. Almost simultaneously, Richard Gill's national mentoring program in music education commenced, and in 2015 linked into the Victorian improvement implementation process.

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When elected in 2014, The Labor government injected $2m into the music education improvement plan, and commenced extensive consultation processes into all aspects of education, Victoria wide.

This meant that throughout 2015, the School Music Action Group (sMAG) was able to make submissions on behalf of the Victorian Music Education community to:

  • The VET funding review
  • The Victorian Institute of Teaching Permission To Teach Review
  • The Education State discussion panels
  • The Bracks School's Funding Review
  • The Early Years consultation process
  • The Program for Students with Disabilities Review

In 2016, we expect to see a deeper analysis of Instrumental Music Programs, to which sMAG intends to make a submission.

Further, at Federal level, the TEMAG report was released, and AITSL commissioned to implement many of the recommendations. sMAG has formally responded to the report, participated in the AITSL consultation processes, and been able to include the findings in all the Victorian consultation/submission processes.

Finally, the Victorian Education Minister, Hon James Merlino MP, has launched his vision for Victoria to be 'The Education State'. On page 14, there is a clear intention to build capacity in music education delivery across Victoria, and increase delivery to as many school children as possible. Over the last few weeks, we have seen that vision matched with financial commitments, and systems to enable this all to happen. The way in which this is rolling out will be reported in the next sMAG ENews. http://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/about/educationstate/launch.pdf

IN 2015, IBAC and VAGO investigations and reports have overarching recommendations in education which will benefit everyone in every subject in Victoria.

Serendipity has played a role in seeing all of these reviews and reforms move through the systems in a back to back fashion. Many people discussing, working and calling for the reforms at State and Federal level simultaneously has also led to tremendous change in Victoria. Members of sMAG have worked for decades, remained faithful, and worked tirelessly in the hope of seeing these reforms come to pass. We are grateful to them, and now to the commitments of the Victorian DET, the Andrews government and all who are willing to take up the cause in their own suburb or town. Having a committee like sMAG Victoria in place enabled quick responses in a timely fashion as each review was announced. We in Victoria stand on the cusp of tremendous change. Much of the work is worthy of national attention, as other States investigate where to next.

Catherine Lyons is Chair of the School Music Action Group in Victoria

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Catherine Lyons

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