Subject area profiles
In Germany, including Rheinland-Pfalz, music is a compulsory subject in primary and secondary schools. There are two lessons a week (except two years) from years five to ten. Students can choose music as a subject in their last three years of study (Abitur).
The curriculum focusses on the competencies described below. In Bertha von Suttner there are two additional music lessons for the BandKlasse music classes in years 5 and 6. From year 7 on, BandKlasse is voluntary for one lesson a week.
Music is one of the main focus subjects at Bertha von Suttner, which means there are several special activities taking place within the school. There are ‘BandKlasse’ music classes, in which all students learn to play an instrument. There is a musical working group, which produces musicals, runs music groups in our school, and manages our collaboration with the local music school – Emmerich Smola Musikschule – to deliver workshops as part of the Project ‘App to music’.
Music lessons focus on four dimensions of the music learning process: individual musical experience, musical expression and actions, musical culture and musical perception. All competencies should be built up through the fields of action.16 There is a need, therefore, to create aesthetic spaces that enable students to experience subjective aesthetic processes.17
English is taught as the first foreign language at different levels. Depending on their final degree, students attend courses of five, six (level B1) or nine years of study (level B2/ C1). They are taught an average number of four lessons per week. At Bertha von Suttner students have the possibility of receiving a Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English.
The language curriculum focuses on language acquisition in the first two years to develop competencies in listening, speaking, reading and writing. In years 7-10 there are more elaborate grammar topics, and reading comprehension is focussed on content (depending on the level). In years 11-13, the content focusses on fictional and non-fictional texts, 19th and 20th century literature and a wider field of culturally-specific topics.
In Hungary the name of the subject is ‘Singing – Music’. Teaching this subject is fundamentally based on the Kodály method. Teaching singing and music lasts until the end of the 10th grade. Students learn music in a period of four-plus-two or two years.
There is no special classroom for teaching music in an average Hungarian school. In KJG a Roland electronic piano, a hi-fi set, CDs, audiofiles, music sheets and a permanent room support the teaching of music.
The aims of the curriculum in years 5-8 (10-14 years’ old) are the improvement of skills: writing and reading tunes, solmisation, rhythmical and listening skills. Students learn to think in system, their logical skills, listening (auditory) and (mother tongue) language competence are developing. In years 9-10 (14-16 years’ old) students learn music history, listen to and recognise music, becoming acquainted with the most important composers, their works and the features of several artistic periods and genres. Students’ work is assessed by writing tasks about music theory, music history, writing tunes, by singing solo or in a group, by listening and recognising music as well as by their activity during the lesson. Students can take part in several events/programmes in the town, participating in an event of any music genre. Teachers also encourage students to play together, sometimes with the teacher’s participation. Teachers organise trips to the Opera House in Budapest. Teachers form students’ taste in music.
In secondary education students can attend courses of four, five or eight years of study. In KJG students study two foreign languages: English is students’ first foreign language, and the second one can be German or French. Based on the programmes students participate in, there are different numbers of lessons per week available. It can vary from three to 12.
Foreign languages are taught in groups of 15-18 students. In KJG there are four special rooms for teaching English. They are equipped with 1 PC, a projector, and a CD player. There are several classrooms equipped with interactive whiteboards.
Students enter secondary education at A2 level of English at the age of 14 and leave school at B2 level in most cases. The aim of the curriculum is to develop the four language skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Teachers prepare students for the final Matura examination and for a language examination, at level B2 or C1 (in years 10-12); students are awarded extra points when they apply to university if they have one.
Extra-curricular activities are also common in KJG. Teachers organise a project day every year when all foreign languages taught in KJG are the focus. Students take part in competitions, games, do quizzes, discuss or do listening tasks. Students participate in competitions via the Internet or organised by another school in our town. An American theatre company performs a play in English in the local theatre, to which we take the students of KJG every year.
Spoken word/performance poetry
Although KJG is not specialised in music and spoken word, it has several extra-curricular activities that provide students with the opportunity of becoming engaged in non-formal and informal art-related activities. These include Kodo Days, Spring Art Festival, Debates, Drama Club, Week of Foreign Languages and is presently working on the method of using a YouTube channel for language-teaching. The Drama Club provides the students with the opprtunity to experiment with poetry in various ways. Through this Erasmus+ project, the leader of the club has taken part in a session of non-formal education led by creative practitioners at the Roundhouse, London, where she learnt techniques and approaches that she has been using in the club since then.
Music is a compulsory subject in the first year of ESO, and an elective in the second, third and fourth years. It is taught for three hours per week, and the main focus is based on learning a basic vocabulary, basic reading and writing music tools, singing and playing together. Orff instruments and recorders are used as school instruments alongside singing a repertoire of songs together.
IES Mossèn Alcover also teaches the Arts & Music Baccalaureate; this means that students focus their learning process on arts subjects: drama, music language & music analysis and image & sound culture. These subjects are taught for four hours per week during two courses. At this level, students learn to deepen their knowledge of music, how to write essays and reports on music, and how to read and analyse music at a pre-university level.
English is the first foreign language in Spain and is a compulsory subject from primary school and through secondary school. The average number of lessons per week is usually three, with lesson length varying between 45 and 55 minutes. There is a general curriculum that involves teaching grammar, vocabulary, writing, speaking and listening skills, and also includes communicative competence.
Students usually start secondary education with an A2 standard of English, and finish their upper-secondary education with a B2 level of English (according to the Common European Framework of Languages).
Music lessons in compulsory school often starts as early as in pre-school but that can differ from school-to-school. Students are entitled to a total of 230 hours of music lessons: 70 hours in grades 1-3, 80 hours in grades 4-6 and 80 hours in grades 7-9.
The purpose of the subject of music is to give students knowledge that makes it possible to participate in different musical contexts, either by playing themselves or by listening to music.
Students are supposed to be confident in their ability to sing and play, to become interested in developing their own musical creativity, and to analyse and discuss musical expressions in different social, cultural and historical contexts.
In Sweden, English is taught as the first foreign language from first grade, but the start can vary from school-to-school. The school is obliged to teach the students 60 hours of English during the first three years, then 220 hours during the next three years, and finally 200 hours during the last three years of compulsory school.
The curriculum of English is focussed on developing competencies in listening, speaking reading and writing.
The National Curriculum for England includes Music19 is a statutory entitlement for all children aged from 5 to 14 years’ old. At the age of 14, students can choose to study for the General Certificate in Secondary Education (GCSE) in Music or a vocational equivalent. At age 16 students can study a range of courses – including A Level and vocational equivalents – which can lead to university entrance or a career in the cultural and creative industries.
The Music framework covers the four pillars of performing, composing, listening and appraising. Each school can devise its own curriculum based around these elements. School music curricula therefore are varied and are designed to engage students, while also being used as a tool to diversify and broaden knowledge and musical understanding.
Training to be a music teacher in England involves studying for a degree in Music followed by successful completion of a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at university with school placements; there are a range of other routes into teaching20. On attaining a job as a music teacher, you will complete a two-year Early Career Teacher (ECT) programme21. As a teacher, the saying that you are continually learning is never as true as for a music teacher. To be able to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum, the knowledge of a music teacher has be broad and balanced from music of the world to the classical canon and being able to play the piano and drums, and sing. In order to supplement the skills of the teacher, it is important to draw experience from professional networks, which can include: the local Music Hub, peripatetic teachers, universities and conservatoires.
Access to music and the arts is a socio-economic indicator, and if not supported by schools this divide will be widened. The role of music education is to broaden cultural and social experience.
As an English school, an early distinction must be made between the teaching of English as a first language and English as an additional language. While all students at Regent High School will be taught first language English and its associated literatures, our project has focused on English as an additional language (EAL). The pedagogy of this discipline better matches the teaching of English as a foreign language across the four European schools. The description that follows is for English as an additional language. To find out more about the teaching of English language and literature as a first language, read the National Curriculum for English and visit The National Association for the Teaching of English.
There is no official English as an Additional Language curriculum in England and what is taught varies from school-to-school, largely dictated by the needs of the EAL students in each school. Generally, the EAL curriculum in England involves teaching English grammar, vocabulary, speaking and listening skills, but also differentiation of the mainstream curriculum so that the students can access regular lessons without command of English being a barrier to their participation.
EAL students at Regent High School and in other settings are prepared to take English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) examinations, which assess students’ reading, writing, speaking and listening skills and can be taken at different levels from Entry 1 to Level 2 (GCSE-equivalent).
In common with teachers of English as a Foreign Language, schools in England often use British Council ‘Teach English’ resources to support the planning and delivery of their lessons.
Spoken word/performance poetry
Though not a discrete subject in English schools, the popularity of this form of wordplay among young people means that it is gaining increasing exposure in classrooms across the country. Perhaps most readily heard in the English language classroom, but also in music and drama lessons, spoken word and performance poetry provide a space for young people to explore language, rhythm and ideas. Material for young people to consume is widely available on social media, which gives life and credibility to their nascent creative selves.
Regent High School teaches spoken word in its Key Stage 3 curriculum (ages 11 to 14); it is not currently on the examination syllabi22 for GCSE English Language, GCSE English Literature or A Level English Literature.
16 Representative of this concept is Werner Jank. See Bechtel, D. et al. ‘Aufbauender Musikunterricht’. Wiki Musikpädagogik. Location unknown: Wiki Musikpädagogik, 2015. Visit this website. [Accessed 17 July 2021].
17 Rolle, C. Musikalisch-ästhetische Bildung. Über die Bedeutung ästhetischer Erfahrung für musikalische Bildungsprozesse (dissertation). Hamburg: Universität Hamburg, 1999. Visit this website. [Accessed 17 July 2021].
18 Note that education policy and delivery is the responsibility of the United Kingdom’s four nations. These profiles relate to the subjects as they are planned and taught in England only.
19 Department for Education. Music programmes of study: key stage 3: National curriculum in England. London: Department for Education, September 2013. Visit this website. [Accessed 24 July 2021].
20 Department for Education. ‘Ways to train.’ London: Department for Education, June 2021. Accessed via Visit this website. [Accessed 19 June 2021].
21 Starting from September 2021. Prior to September 2021, new teachers followed a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) programme during their first year of teaching.
22 The examination boards taught at Regent High School.