Music Development Plans


What are they and why do you need one?

In this guest blog by Dr Liz Stafford of Music Education Solutions® we discuss the concept of Music Development Plans and how you can use them to supercharge music in your school.
What is a Music Development Plan?
In 2022, The National Plan for Music Education (England) set out the aspiration for all schools to have a music development plan by September 2023. In reality this is not a new requirement, as most schools have always expected their subject leaders for music (and indeed all other subjects) to write some kind of ‘action plan’ detailing how they plan to develop the subject over time.

What is new is that for the first time the DfE are suggesting what information should be included in these plans including:

  • How you will deliver high-quality music provision for all pupils across curriculum, co-curricular, and enrichment and against the key features identified within the plan?
  • How you will staff and fund provision, including supporting staff development?
  • How you will work with your Music Hub to support and build on your provision?
  • How you will monitor success?

Why do you need a Music Development Plan?
Strictly speaking, as the NMPE is a non-statutory document, you don’t need to follow the DfE’s version of a development plan at all. However it is definitely a good idea to have some kind of plan in place that identifies strengths and areas for development in your music provision. Having a development plan should help you:

  • Link music to wider school improvement
  • Open a dialogue with your Music Hub
  • Publicise your offer to pupils and parents

The main benefit of writing a development plan however, is to help you as subject leader keep track of how music is going in your school. This will act as a springboard for ideas on how your music offer might develop over time, and ensure that you are always improving your music provision for your pupils.
What should be in your Music Development Plan?
Your development plan can include anything you like! Some useful information would be an articulation of your vision for music, some information of where you are now, where you would like to be in the future, and how you are going to get there. The NPME suggests that your development plan should provide a blueprint for establishing these ‘common features of excellent provision’ over time:

  • Timetabled curriculum music of at least one hour each week of the school year for key stages 1-3.
  • Access to lessons across a range of instruments, and voice.
  • A school choir and/or vocal ensemble.
  • A school ensemble/band/group.
  • Space for rehearsals and individual practice.
  • A termly school performance.
  • Opportunity to enjoy live performances at least once a year.

Remember that these are just ideas from within the non-statutory NPME, so if some or all of them don’t fit with your vision for music, you can create your own list of what you are trying to achieve instead. One thing to bear in mind however, is that this is the fourth successive policy document (2 from the DfE and 2 from Ofsted) that has highlighted the importance of regular weekly music lessons, so it might be wise to ensure that particular target remains within your plan! 
How do you write a Music Development Plan?
Start by thinking about your vision for music in your school – what would it look like when it is the best that it can be? Once you know what you’re aiming for, audit your current provision to see exactly how far away you are from achieving your overall aim. Then you can begin to plan the detail – the small stepping stones which over time take you from where you are now to where you want to be.

If you need some help, talk to colleagues in other schools or check out the links at the bottom of this blog.
Once your development plan is in place, it’s important not to just file it away and forget all about it! The plan should be a working document that is frequently referred to and evaluated against, to keep you on track with your plans for supercharging music in your school! Put some review dates in your diary to help stay on track.

Dr Liz Stafford is director of global music education consultancy company Music Education Solutions,® Editor of Primary Music Magazine, and author of The Primary Music Leaders’ Handbook (HarperCollins). She has 25 years’ experience as a music teacher working across every age range from EYFS to HE.

Music Education Solutions® offers a self-guided course on Creating a Music Development Plan which can provide further support with this process. Drums for Schools customers can save 20% on the cost of this course with code DRUMS20.
To find out more about Music Education Solutions® visit their website or sign-up to their mailing list.

Dr Elizabeth Stafford

Dr Elizabeth Stafford is an internationally-recognised music education expert with over two decade’s experience as a Primary Music and Vocal Teacher in numerous school and local authority settings. She is director of Music Education Solutions®, editor of Primary Music Magazine, and author of The Primary Music Leader’s Handbook (HarperCollins). Previously on the leadership team for the government’s national CPD programme for music teachers, the KS2 Music CPD Programme, Elizabeth was also for 6 years Senior Lecturer in Music Education at Leeds Conservatoire. She is the writer of Warwick Music’s award-winning pBuzz KS1 music curriculum, and is music specialist for the Kapow Primary music curriculum. Elizabeth writes regularly for Music Teacher Magazine, Teach Primary, and The Headteacher, and is in regular demand as a guest lecturer and presenter at universities, conservatoires, and conferences across the UK.
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