- Mark AndersonManaging Director, Pearson UK
- Dr Ian StockfordExecutive Director for General Qualifications, Ofqual
Ensure the representation of women on the A-Level Music syllabus
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.
- Managing Director, Pearson UK
- Executive Director for General Qualifications, Ofqual
Dr Ian Stockford
- Secretary of State for Education
Nicky Morgan MP
I am a 17 year old A Level Music student currently studying the Edexcel syllabus. Earlier this year, I was part of a programme exploring gender inequality in society. It was at this point that I contacted Edexcel directly, enquiring as to why there were no females, out of 63 composers, included in the A-Level Music syllabus.
I thought the matter could be easily solved at first as Edexcel openly and rightfully advocate:
"The aims of the Edexcel Advanced Subsidiary GCE and Advanced Level GCE in Music are to enable students to: ...engage in, and extend the appreciation of the diverse and dynamic heritage of music, promoting spiritual and cultural development...”.
I thought the lack of women was simply a mistake, an oversight, as clearly this aim cannot be fulfilled without the representation of women. However, a series of emails that followed highlighted that Edexcel's Head of Music was reluctant to change the syllabus and ultimately meet their own goals of creating a richer, more diverse music world.
The Edexcel syllabus is wonderfully diverse in the number of musical genres included, yet the breadth is severely limited by not including even one female composer. Why limit diversity in a subject which ultimately thrives on its astounding breadth?
There are a plethora of noteworthy female composers who would add considerably to the new 2016 syllabus, many of whom were included in BBC Radio 3's whole day of programming of women composers to honour International Women's Day earlier this year. Including female composers would enable students to broaden their knowledge of the historical context surrounding the musical works, essential in fully understanding the reasons behind the composition and providing reasons for certain musical aspects of the composition. This is in addition to studying the key musical features of the work as done with all of the current set works.
I urge you to ensure women are included in the 2016 A-Level Music syllabus so that girls are freely able and inspired to become composers, to enrich the A-Level syllabus and to ultimately ensure that women's works are valued, as they should be.
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