13 January 2011

Gove dismisses music teachers advice

Advice given to music teachers from the Musician’s Union has come under fire by Education secretary Michael Gove. The training video produced by the MU declared that touching pupils during routine music lessons left individuals open to charges of inappropriate behaviour.

Mr Gove responded by writing a letter to the union’s general secretary saying that this was sending out the wrong message: "It plays to a culture of fear among both adults and children, reinforcing the message that any adult who touches a child is somehow guilty of inappropriate contact," Mr Gove added.

He highlighted a number of occasions when it was "totally appropriate" and right for teachers to be in physical contact with a pupil.

"Whether it's adjusting the position of a violin or demonstrating how to handle drumsticks, showing how a trombone slide should work or introducing new subtleties in oboe playing, teachers should be trusted," the letter continued.

Diane Widdison, the national organiser at the Musicians' Union said the video was made to protect teachers

'When allegations are made against music teachers they are suspended immediately while an investigation is carried out and their careers are damaged or ruined even if they are declared innocent,' she said.
'In one recent case the parents of a child learning the guitar complained that the teacher had touched their child's finger to pluck a guitar string.

'In many cases having to be more creative and find alternatives to touching reinforces the learning process because it ensures that children are thinking for themselves.'

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