There are now also three new diplomas, the DipABRSM, the LRSM and the FRSM. These are benchmark diplomas to assess the teacher's ability and skills. One potential problem with taking the LRSM rests on teachers having to find someone to help them through: there is no one for teachers to judge themselves against. On the CT Course, by allowing them to discuss and share what they are doing, we find that teachers gain much more valuable insights into their own teaching styles and techniques. Before taking the LRSM exam I would recommend anyone to take the CT course, either in full or in part; if they have done the full course, then they are also exempt from taking part of the LRSM exam.
We were conscious that a significant number of teachers felt they needed something to work towards on completing the LRSM qualification. This led us to develop the fellowship examination (FRSM). We were also aware that there was a gap between Grade 8 and the LRSM that needed filling. As a result, the DipABRSM was developed to allow people who needed to go on from Grade 8 to have access to a first diploma in performing, teaching or directing.
Although the CT ABRSM is not recognised in terms of qualified teacher status, many of the tasks undertaken are similar to the activities many students experience on DfEE-recognised teacher-training courses. Are there any plans to try to develop the course so that it is given further recognition as an acceptable qualification?
We would very much like it to become the major component of a PGCE course since it provides specialist-subject mentoring and lesson observation, which mirrors typical PGCE requirements. At the moment, we are in negotiation with two institutions which we hope might enable that to happen, and since it seems likely that both Further and Higher Education qualifications are the next to be looked at in terms of the National Framework of Qualifications, we would certainly want the CT to be included into that framework.
We feel that the course would also be a very useful part of the 'Art of Teaching' courses provided to music college students, perhaps making it part of third- or fourth-year courses that can be finished a year or so after leaving when they have done some real teaching.
How do you think the CT course is going to develop over the next few years?
We are looking in several directions. Firstly, we are looking to countries where the Board has large numbers of examinations candidates, such as Malaysia and New Zealand, but where we haven't started the course yet. Secondly, we are looking to countries where there are no Board examinations, starting professional development in those countries, with a view to exams perhaps being taken up afterwards. We are also looking at building on the modularity of the CT ABRSM course for people who would like to have some form of professional development, maybe leading directly to one of the new diplomas. They could take certain CT modules and then go straight on towards the DipABRSM or LRSM exams and although not everyone will want to complete the full CT course, I am sure that once people start it, a vast proportion will choose to go right through.
It seems that the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music is moving well ahead of the times, anticipating a continuing need in the market for the personal development of instrumental teachers, as well as providing support for a large quantity of classroom teachers throughout the United Kingdom. Future issues will take this article further by examining the CT ABRSM in more detail through interviews with course mentors and members. Further details concerning CT courses can be found on the ABRSM's website, which also contains addresses and telephone numbers for information.
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