This is the story of a remarkable change in approach to musical education which has taken place in Scottish secondary schools during recent years.
Readers will bear in mind that the system of education in Scotland is independent of, and different from, that established in England. It is administered locally by education authorities which, together with head-teachers, are responsible for the curriculum taught within the schools. The Secretary of State for Scotland, nevertheless, retains an overall responsibility for the structure and balance of the school curriculum, which he fulfils by providing education authorities and head-teachers with general advice and guidance on curriculum matters. He is advised on these matters by HM Inspectorate of Schools (Scotland) and by the Consultative Committee on the Curriculum. The Consultative Committee on the Curriculum, in turn, is advised on musical matters by its subcommittee, the Scottish Central Committee on Music. Two external examinations, Ordinary and Higher Grades – taken at ages 16 and 17 respectively – are the responsibility of the Scottish Examination Board.
Scotland has a population of some five and a half million people. It has four professional orchestras – two with international reputations – professional opera and ballet companies, national youth brass and wind bands, and orchestra. There are over four hundred secondary schools. Instruction in music has been a feature of Scottish schools for centuries.