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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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Have your say in the National Review of School Music Education

The Australian Government’s National Review of School Music Education is underway and everyone has the opportunity to participate in the Review by making a submission. All interested individuals and organisations are encouraged to voice their opinions about music education in schools.

Music provides powerful learning experiences for children, offering them the opportunity to express themselves creatively, while also assisting in the development of other skills and competencies. Furthermeore, music also engages their imagination, and is a means of communication, relaxation and entertainment. However, recent research has shown that there is little information available on the provision of school music education in Australia.

Background to the Review

In July 2003 the national report Trends in School Music Provision in Australia presented the results of research by the Music Council of Australia in collaboration with the Australian Music Association and the Australian Society for Music Education. The report noted a lack of uniform policies and practices in relation to the collection of information about music education, and recommended a comprehensive national survey of school music education in Australia.

The National Review of School Music Education seeks to identify

  • the current quality of teaching and learning of music in Australian schools
  • factors that affect the quality and status of music in schools
  • examples of best practice of teaching and learning in both domestic and overseas schools.

Specific recommendations will be made on

  • ways for providing students with opportunities for quality music education, whether musically gifted or otherwise, including enhanced opportunities for instrumental instruction and performance
  • ways for identifying and monitoring talented students
  • ways for integrating music into other areas of the curriculum.

The Review will also make recommendations on key principles and priorities to enhance the quality of teaching and learning music. It is expected to be completed in August 2005. 

The Review will be able to draw on recent and current Australian research on arts education, such as Australian Children and the Arts: Meaning, Value and Participation (University of Tasmania) and on music education, such as Music for Learning for Life (funded by the Australia Council for the Arts).

The Review Team

An expert team led by Murdoch University’s Centre for Learning, Change and Development (CLCD) is undertaking the Review on behalf of the Department of Education, Science and Training.  This team will be led by Dr Sam Leong, University of Western Australia, Robin Pascoe, a Senior Lecturer in Murdoch University’s School of Education, and Dr Judith MacCallum, a Senior Lecturer in Educational Psychology and Director of the CLCD.  Dr Leong is a noted music educator and former director of the Calloway Centre at the University of Western Australia. Mr Pascoe has an extensive career in arts education, while Dr MacCallum’s research has focussed on issues such as social and cognitive interaction for learning and development. The team also includes members from the University of Queensland, University of Western Australia, University of Sydney and the Northern Territory Department of Education. 

Update on progress

Since the announcement of the Review, the project team has been working in collaboration with a group of Critical Friends and a Steering Committee. The Steering Committee includes members of the music industry, representatives of the Australian Government, education experts and representatives from Australian primary and secondary school systems, and principals and teachers.  Professor Margaret Seares is Chair of the Steering Committee.  Professor Seares brings a wealth of knowledge to the Review. She is Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Western Australia, and an Officer of the Order of Australia, in recognition of her contribution to education and the arts.

The ‘Critical Friends’ will be able to provide important insights into good practice in music education. This group consists of respected individuals and representatives of key professional organisations in Australia, such as Musica Viva and the Australian National Academy of Music. 

The Review team has finalised a research strategy, undertaken a curriculum mapping exercise, and has prepared a draft literature review.

The Hon Dr Brendan Nelson MP, Australian Government Minister for Education Science and Training, recently announced the call for submissions in a Ministerial media release.


Submissions to the Review can be prepared in two ways. A structured submission allows respondents to answer a series of questions, while an open submission allows for longer responses. The structured submission will include questions such as:


  • What do you think about the quality of school music opportunities presently taught in schools?
  • What sorts of music and music activities are provided for students?
  • What is the role of extracurricular music opportunities? How should schools provide them?
  • What factors do you think negatively affect the status school music?
  • Does school music provide opportunities for special needs students?

For more information visit the Review’s website at www.schoolmusicreview.edu.au or contact the Review team on (08) 9360 7263.


Relevant Links

All Internet locations are correct as of 11 February 2005. 

Department of Education, Science and Training, Nelson, B.J. and Kemp, R. (2004) Joint Media Release, Music Education takes centre stage.

Department of Education, Science and Training, Nelson, B.J. (2004) Media Release, National Review Of School Music Education Underway.

Stevens, R. et al (2003) Trends in School Music Provision in Australia

Department of Education, Science and Training, Nelson, B.J. (2004) Media Release, Call For Submissions- National Review Of School Music Education.


Key Learning Areas

The Arts

Subject Headings

Educational planning
Educational evaluation