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Music education in the primary classroom - why is it important?

Music is a compulsory and important part of the National Curriculum (DfE, 2013). Whether or not your school is obliged to teach the National Curriculum, it is an Ofsted requirement that music should be part of the broad and balanced offer to all pupils. The Ofsted School Inspection Handbook (2016:41)1 notes that in schools judged outstanding, 'the broad and balanced curriculum inspires pupils to learn. The range of subjects and courses helps pupils acquire knowledge, understanding and skills in all aspects of their education, including the humanities and linguistic, mathematical, scientific, technical, social, physical and artistic learning'. Clearly, this means that music must be included on a regular basis.

But we shouldn’t just think that music education should be there because we are told it ‘has’ to be.


1. Think about the values you place on primary education. Make a list – what do you want pupils to get from it? What behaviours, values and attitudes do you think are important to promote throughout primary education? When asked this, teachers often come up with a long list, including such words and phrases as:

  • enjoy learning and being at school
  • inclusive / feeling like they are part of something
  • creative
  • a chance to explore and try things out
  • to get along with and collaborate with others
  • work at things and try things they didn’t know were possible
  • be brave
  • resilience / not giving up

2. Look carefully at your list and think about how music education can contribute to all of this.