ISM and ISM Trust music certificates 2017: headline findings

Throughout the UK the value of music is something we all know and experience every day.

But music in our schools is being undermined by the Government’s plans to introduce an even more damaging version of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc).

In the face of this threat we need to do everything possible to support music in schools. Even the most committed head teachers are under ever-increasing pressure from central Government to diminish their commitment to music in schools.

A school in Essex has felt under pressure to remove music from the curriculum for Year 7 and 8 is troubling, and is a pattern we are seeing up and down the country

As the professional body for musicians and music educators and a subject association for music education, we campaign vigorously to protect the place of music in school accountability measures. But we are also looking at other ways in which we can support teachers – our members – in schools across the UK.

Background to the project – supporting schools

Last year we launched a new scheme that would allow us to recognise the achievement of schools in England in music without creating a burdensome new system of assessment.

This recognition for their work in an award form can help a music department as it talks to senior leadership about the value of their subject. It also offers a morale boost to struggling departments as they seek to expand or maintain their status within a school.

What we did

The data we needed was readily available from the Department of Education who also publish GCSE results every year this allowed us to instantly rank schools by how many pupils entered for GCSE music achieved high grades in GCSE music. (A*-C)

This however, doesn’t give us the full picture because there could be more pupils in one school when compared to another, so larger schools would benefit. What we wanted to analyse was the proportion of pupils securing a high grade in GCSE music.

Taking this into account we created a measure which looks at attainment and uptake of GCSE music across a school.

We took 1) the number of pupils getting an A*-C grade in GCSE music (attainment) and divided it by 2) the total number of pupils at the end of Key Stage 4 (GCSE age, or age 16) (entries) to get some idea of the place of music in a whole school.

When testing the scheme for the first time last year in England, certificates were awarded to a total of 649 schools, 87 gold, 146 silver and 416 bronze.

This year, we were able to extend the programme across England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The limits of the research

This data is not in any way definitive. It represents just one way of looking at music in schools and has been designed purely to support schools where a strong tradition of music clearly exists. We do not be publish the full dataset, as it could be misunderstood or misused.

Likewise, we do not want this to become about ranking schools, so we will only publish the list of the top 76 as a celebration of achievement, although we will share the data with individual schools and music services and music education hubs on request.

The data does not measure attainment for schools with fewer than 5 pupils taking GCSE music as this data is not made publicly available (for data protection reasons).

How can music education hubs, music services and schools access their data? We will share the detailed data with any music education hub, music service or school that requests it.

2017 ISM and ISM Trust Gold Certificates: Schools of colleges where more than 20% of pupils achieved an A*- C in GCSE music

Headline findings in 2017

  • 76 schools received a gold certificate, with more than 20% of all pupils securing an A*-C in GCSE music, 129 received a silver certificate (more than 15%), and 424 received a bronze certificate (more than 10%)
  • 2,247 schools had no entries at all for GCSE music.
  • Of the 76 schools that secured a gold certificate, 49 (64%) were private schools and 11 (14%) were selective (mostly grammar) schools.
  • Of the 129 securing a silver certificate, 56 (43%) were independent schools and 25 (19%) were selective (leaving 56 comprehensives).
  • Of the 424 securing a bronze certificate, 116 (27%) were independent, 53 (12%) were selective, and 252 (36%) were comprehensive.
  • 35% of the 629 schools that received a certificate were independent schools.
  • Specialist music schools perhaps unsurprisingly outperformed all other schools, with 100% of pupils securing an A*-C in GCSE music
  • Holy Trinity School in Kidderminster was the highest performing comprehensive state school.
  • The best performing local authority by this ranking (with its very small number of pupils) was the City of London, closely followed by Southwark, York, Camden, Westminster and Barnet. Brighton and Hove is the next highest non-London area.
  • In Wales 50 schools in total were awarded certificates. Two schools were awarded gold certificates, 13 schools earned silver certificates with 35 schools awarded bronze certificates.
  • In Northern Ireland 37 schools in total were awarded certificates. Two schools were awarded gold certificates, 6 schools were presented with silver certificates with 29 schools awarded bronze certificates.
  • All the schools that were presented with either a gold or silver certificates in Northern Ireland were grammar schools.

Comments from schools

A head of music who works in a school in Northern Ireland said:

I received this morning the Silver Certificate in Music 2017 on behalf of Dominican College, Portstewart for which I am most grateful and pleasantly surprised.

A headteacher at a school in Northern Ireland said:

We are absolutely delighted with our award. When we consider the percentage of our pupils who come from areas of social deprivation and who deal with its associated consequences it puts our award on an even higher pedestal. Our music teacher a one woman department and she is a force of nature who accepts all pupils into her GCSE music class regardless of ability.

The award will certainly help us champion music in the school:

We have already been tweeting about the award, we could not wait to get the good news out there.

A secondary school in Wales said:

Thank you for your email, sorry for the delay in responding. We have received and are proudly displaying our Silver Certificate.

A headteacher from a secondary school in England said:

I was thrilled to receive the recognition, as was our Head of Music, despite being a relatively small non-selective school we perform beyond expectation in and out of the classroom. I know the award is as a result of GCSE results but we feel it is symbolic of all the hard work that goes into music and drama in putting on performance and concerts. The confidence and joy that our students get from performing definitely transfers into other aspects of their school performance.

Local Authority School nameSchool Type
HertfordshirePurcell SchoolIndependent
ManchesterChetham's School of MusicIndependent
SurreyYehudi Menuhin SchoolIndependent
HounslowArts Educational SchoolIndependent
SomersetWells Cathedral SchoolIndependent
West SussexThe Towers Convent SchoolIndependent
WorcestershireHoly Trinity SchoolComprehensive
HertfordshireTring Park School for the Performing ArtsIndependent
Richmond upon ThamesThe Royal Ballet SchoolIndependent
Cheshire West and ChesterThe HammondIndependent
HertfordshireSt Christopher SchoolIndependent
BarnetThe Henrietta Barnett SchoolGrammar
HertfordshireSherrardswood SchoolIndependent
SufffolkFinborough SchoolIndependent
SurreyFrensham Heights SchoolIndependent
HertfordshireThe King's SchoolIndependent
SeftonSt Mary's SchoolIndependent
HampshireThe King's SchoolIndependent
SomersetBruton School for GirlsIndependent
Hammersmith and FulhamWest London Free SchoolComprehensive
ReadingSt Joseph's CollegeIndependent
WestminsterThe Sylvia Young Theatre SchoolIndependent
Herefordshire, County ofThe Steiner Academy HerefordComprehensive
DevonShebbear CollegeIndependent
WorcestershireThe River SchoolIndependent
LiverpoolThe Blue Coat SchoolGrammar
HounslowKew HouseIndependent
County DurhamDurham High School for GirlsIndependent
KirkleesHuddersfield Grammar SchoolIndependent
Cheshire West and ChesterThe Queen's SchoolIndependent
KentRadnor House SevenoaksIndependent
Bristol, City ofBristol Cathedral Choir SchoolComprehensive
HertfordshireAbbot's Hill SchoolIndependent
HertfordshireSt Albans High School for GirlsIndependent
Richmond upon ThamesWaldegrave SchoolComprehensive
KentBeechwood Sacred Heart SchoolIndependent
Kingston upon ThamesTiffin SchoolGrammar
BuckinghamshireSir William Borlase's Grammar SchoolGrammar
WarwickshireStratford Girls' Grammar SchoolGrammar
Newcastle upon TyneNewcastle School for BoysIndependent
HertfordshireHitchin Girls' SchoolComprehensive
Blackburn with DarwenWestholme SchoolIndependent
CambridgeshireThe Perse SchoolIndependent
Windsor and MaidenheadMarist Senior SchoolIndependent
GreenwichBlackheath High SchoolIndependent
OxfordshireOxford High School GDSTIndependent
Southend-on-SeaWestcliff High School for GirlsGrammar
EalingSt Benedict's SchoolIndependent
Bath and North East SomersetRoyal High School GDSTIndependent
CroydonColoma Convent Girls' SchoolComprehensive
Bristol, City of The Red Maids' SchoolIndependent
KentHighworth Grammar SchoolGrammar
PeterboroughThe King's (The Cathedral) SchoolComprehensive
HertfordshireDame Alice Owen's SchoolComprehensive
SurreyPrior's Field SchoolIndependent
CroydonOld Palace of John Whitgift SchoolIndependent
WolverhamptonWolverhampton Grammar SchoolIndependent
WandsworthSouthfields AcademyComprehensive
NottinghamNottingham High SchoolIndependent
CalderdaleRishworth School Independent
SurreyGordon's SchoolComprehensive
GloucestershireSir Thomas Rich's SchoolGrammar
BromleyEltham CollegeIndependent
SouthwarkKingsdale Foundation SchoolComprehensive
WarwickshireAlcester Grammar SchoolGrammar
Birmingham The Arthur Terry SchoolComprehensive
KentSimon Langton Girls' Grammar SchoolGrammar
WiganHindley High SchoolComprehensive
North YorkshireSt Augustine's Roman Catholic School, ScarboroughComprehensive
WestminsterFrancis Holland SchoolIndependent
Bath and North East SomersetKingswood SchoolIndependent
ReadingQueen Anne's SchoolIndependent
CornwallSir James Smith's Community SchoolComprehensive
HampshireWinchester CollegeIndependent
Kent Dartford Grammar School for GirlsGrammar
LeicestershireDixie Grammar SchoolIndependent

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