Ensure the representation of women on the A-Level Music syllabus

Ensure the representation of women on the A-Level Music syllabus

14 August 2015
Petition to
Mark Anderson (Managing Director, Pearson UK) and
This petition made change with 3,822 supporters!

Why this petition matters

Started by Jessy McCabe

The current 2008 Edexcel A-Level Music syllabus has a total of 63 different set works from a variety of musical genres and eras. Yet not a single one of these set works was composed by a woman.  

I am a 17 year old A Level Music student currently studying the Edexcel syllabus. Earlier this year, I was part of an in-school gender equality and leadership programme for young women (Fearless Futures). Among other things, the programme looked into the way in which we are desensitised from noticing the lack of representation of women across different aspects of society. It was during this programme that I was shocked to realise I had never before noticed that there are no female composers included in my Music A-Level.  So I decided to do something about it.

I first thought this issue could be solved easily by contacting Edexcel directly and drawing their attention to their omission of women from the A-Level, as they advocate that students should "...engage in, and extend the appreciation of the diverse and dynamic heritage of music...”.  

I thought the lack of women was simply a mistake, an oversight, as clearly their aim cannot be fulfilled without the representation of women. However, a series of emails highlighted that Edexcel oppose any possibility of change to ultimately meet their own aims of creating a richer, more diverse musical world.

While it is true that female composers aren’t as well known as their male counterparts (unsurprising as women composers are rarely studied in schools), the assertion by Edexcel's Head of Music that "there would be very few female composers that could be included [in the A-Level syllabus]" simply isn’t true. On 8th March 2015, BBC Radio 3 managed to do a whole day of programming of female composers to honour International Women’s Day. Surely, if BBC Radio 3 can play music composed by women for a whole day, Edexcel could select at least one to be a part of the syllabus alongside the likes of Holborne, Haydn and Howlin' Wolf?

Edexcel’s proposed 2016 syllabus, currently awaiting approval from Ofqual, does not, once again, include even one female composer.

This has got to change. How can we expect girls to aspire to be composers and musicians if they don't have the opportunity to learn of any role models? How can we accept that the UK's largest awarding body doesn't adequately acknowledge the work of female musicians? Why are we limiting diversity in a subject which thrives on its astounding breadth?  

Please sign this petition to urge Edexcel to take seriously their responsibility to create a more equal musical world through their educational material and include at least one female composer in their A Level syllabus.


This petition made change with 3,822 supporters!

Share this petition