The introduction of 'Musical Futures' in Wales: what is the impact of learner co-construction on the musical learning of year 9 pupils in a South Wales school?.
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff.
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The following case study analyses the nature and impact of learner co-construction within an informal learning environment in music and specifically evaluates the effectiveness of Musical Futures, a music education pedagogy that puts learner voice and choice at its core. Funding has been secured for a Musical Futures pilot in Wales so the findings of this study should prove useful for those involved. The study took place within the music department of a secondary school in Newport and two classes of Year 9 learners and their two class music teachers participated. Implementing structured and semi-structured observations, a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews, it examined the impact that learner-co-construction of the curriculum and pedagogy had on the quality of pupils' learning and the extent to which it allowed them to access the National Curriculum (NC) requirements for music at Key Stage 3. The research reported many benefits. Giving learners a voice in the repertoire they played afforded them a better starting point and motivated them to work more productively as it made connections with music they liked outside school. Freedom in choosing instruments facilitated development of a broader range of instrumental and ensemble skills. Learners were more readily prepared to work collaboratively and reciprocally when being given freedom to choose with whom they worked. Their chosen methods of learning achieved varied success. More mature learners were able to thrive when given the freedom to self-direct their learning, whilst others who found this approach challenging often needed to seek teacher intervention in order to make progress. It provided access to nearly all areas of the NC for music; however, the performing and composing Programmes of Study were more easily accessible than appraising and this put into question the musical validity of this area of the National Curriculum. The impact on attainment was positive with larger percentage of learners obtainíng level 5, and both the musically able and lower abilíty achieving higher levels overall.
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