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Govt sets deadline to make SA the nation's leader in music education

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South Australian schools will lead the nation in music education by 2029 under a State Government plan to reverse what teachers say has been as a gradual slipping of SA’s standing.

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Education Minister John Gardner today released a new $7 million music education strategy aimed at strengthening the quality of music education across all South Australian public primary schools, preschools and early childhood services.

From the $7 million package, $500,000 will be invested into a new music education fund which will be used to purchase new music equipment and support “innovative” music education programs in schools.

The strategy also outlines a plan to upskill non-specialist music teachers through yearly professional development placements and to engage “music experts” in schools to support teachers in delivering programs.

In 2017, the then Labor Government pledged $5.12 million across four years towards the delivery of a new music education strategy for state schools, with the strategy’s public consultation facilitated under the Marshall Government.

InDaily reported in May concerns from music educators and industry leaders that South Australia’s national standing in music education had gradually slipped over the past 25 years.

Adelaide Symphony Orchestra managing director Vincent Ciccarello, who lobbied for the State Government to develop the new strategy, told InDaily at the time that the state of music education in South Australia was at “crisis” point, with the orchestra struggling to recruit musicians from SA.

Music teachers from the Australian Society for Music Education also raised concerns that music programs in the state were inadequate, poorly staffed and under-resourced, with many schools unable to provide regular music tuition.

Announcing the strategy at a press conference this morning, Gardner said too many students in South Australia did not have access to expert music tuition.

“What this strategy aims to do is to ensure that across all of our schools across South Australia, all of our public school students have access to an excellent music education curriculum with support for classroom teachers to have confidence in delivering that curriculum,” he said.

“We want our students to have access to the best education system in the nation and investment in excellent music education is critical to this endeavour.

“I am confident that in the years ahead this strategy will be enormously beneficial to South Australian students and to our state.”

Ciccarello, who joined Gardner in releasing the strategy, said the ASO was pleased with the strategy’s promise to deliver universal music education across the state.

He said the strategy would, for the first time, prioritise music in schools and provide the resources and curriculum to enable teachers to deliver a universal music program.

The strategy also received praise from Adelaide University’s Elder Conservatorium director Professor Graeme Koehne, who described the strategy’s goals as “wonderfully progressive and innovative”.

“[It] recognises the growing mountain of scientific and real-world experience that demonstrates the physical, intellectual, cognitive benefits of music, particularly in the early and primary years,” he said.

“The value extends far beyond music into kids’ learning of language, literacy skills, numeracy skills, physical coordination, teamwork – all those sorts of values that are going to become increasingly important in the workforce in future.

“This (the strategy) is far more extensive and it’s starting early-on, really where there is capacity, I think, for kids to devote time into music and really gain benefit from it.”

The Government will undertake a whole-of-strategy review in 2022 to assess its progress.

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