Monash University
4264580_Thesis.pdf (167.28 MB)

The effectiveness of music education in Victorian government schools 1995 & 1996

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posted on 2016-11-29, 04:16 authored by Lierse, Rosemary Anne
Although the provision of music education in Victorian state-financed secondary schools appears to have gained some ground over the last years, the literature shows that throughout its history music has continually struggled to justify its existence as a curriculum study in its own right. Despite the fact that the recently developed national and state curriculum frameworks claim to give the Arts equal status with other curriculum ares, evidence points tot he fact that the provision of the generalist music course has in fact declined throughout the 1990's. This has become particularly evident since the restructuring of Victoria's education system under the Schools of the Future reform policies. Instrumental music programs, on the other hand, appear to be gaining ground. Considering there is so much research which shows that a music education significantly benefits the child both intellectually and socially, the fact that music programs appear to be under threat raises questions regarding its perceived value by Principals, schools and society. Up to this time, research in the area of school effectiveness, improvement, and educational change appears to have largely been approached in rational, cognitive terms both in substance and process. Whereas most previous research into school effectiveness has been concerned with the features and characteristics of effective schools, there is relatively little empirical evidence of departmental effectiveness studies within a school system. This study aimed to make a contribution to this new area of research, and to break new ground by broadening the approach to include both quantifiable and qualitative aspects. The dimension of the study was threefold. Firstly, in its investigation of the current provision of music education in all Victorian Secondary Schools, it ascertained the degree of access all students had to both classroom music and instrumental music programs from years 7-10. Secondly, the study looked at the effects if the curriculum and school management reforms under Schools of the Future on music programs. Finally, it identified the characteristics of the music program and their effectiveness taking account of philosophical, cultural and societal issues. The findings from the study raise serious concerns form music educators. Although music education appears to be highly valued in most secondary schools and the community in general, the provision of and the quality of music programs did no reflect this. The study found that due to poor resourcing, particularly in the area of staffing, but also the allocation of time on the timetable for music programs could be considered token. the effectiveness of the programs has further reduced as a result of Schools of the Future reforms which required schools to reduce their staffing numbers and choose which of the Arts Key Learning Areas they would offer their students. Underlying issues relating to these finding include: ongoing changing patterns in educational philosophy with a new emphasis on efficiency, evaluation, assessment and accountability; and a misunderstanding of the role of, or value of the arts in human development and education.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Ros Smith

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre



Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Education